by Jem Croucher


Something that I love to do
whenever I get the chance
is go rummaging in a charity shop
by design or happenstance
Some days I’ll just have a browse
as it’s a good way to unwind
but most times I’ll make a purchase
when a treasure I will find

It could be an ageing postcard
or a record or a book
or just a little trinket
that’s worth a second look
But it’s always therapeutic
as what some folk give away
passes pleasure on to someone else
to brighten up their day


Photo – Jempics. A postcard of Shoreham Beach, Sussex purchase in a Shoreham flea market for £3,50 on Saturday 4 February 2017. Postmarked ‘Shoreham S.O. 17 August 1909’. Message on rear to a Miss Maud Peacock of St James Road, London says ‘…Dear Maud. We are at Shoreham, Weather is lovely. From Will…’

This ‘Shoreham Beach’ (aka ‘Bungalow Town’) no longer exists per se. It began back in the 1870’s when, on a deserted shingle spit shielding the mouth of the Adur river from the sea, a fisherman decided to make a home for himself from disused railway carriages. Others copied him, including Marie Loftus, a music-hall star, who invited her show business friends to see the ingenious home she’d made. Her railway carriage homestead was decked out with wooden cladding to make it look like a traditional bungalow. Others followed including another music-hall star, Will Evans, who, with Francis Lyndhurst, a stage designer) formed the ‘Sunny Side Film Company’ to make short comedy films at the old fort at the eastern end of the beach.

As the film industry boomed, the settlement grew and became known as ‘Bungalow Town’. Many were formed from old railway carriages but most were transformed to include gables, wings and balconies. And, as you can see from this postcard, many were very close to the sea itself. More and more joined the community and, even though the film industry died with a disastrous fire at the main studios in the 1920’s, Bungalow Town established itself as a permanent settlement.

Then, in 1940 with the threat of invasion, the War Department gave the bungalow-owners 48 hours to leave, and went on to blast away the majority of their homes. Soon much of the territory, overgrown and deserted, was back to where it had been before Marie Loftus discovered it. Only a few ex-railway carriage homesteads and the parish church remained.

All was not lost though as, after the war, drawn (as the first music-hall people had been) to the light and air of the beach, new brick-built bungalows began to spring up. Bungalow Town was reborn and, although the ‘aka’ name remains, is now differentiated from the neighbouring Shoreham-by-Sea by the name ‘Shoreham Beach’. The most seaward plots are further back from the sea itself these days but a few of the original ‘railway carriage’ homes still remain, hidden beneath unassuming exteriors.


8 Comments to “Rummaging”

  1. I love “Rummaging” both the word and the activity! Very nice description of the process and the inner feelings!! I find myself “rummaging” through the memories in my mind an enjoyable experience from time to time. Don’t you? Come see me?

  2. Great history. Thanks for sharing this.

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