Blackham clamours for electricity
The first reference I can find making electricity available to the village is from a report of the parish council from 11 July 1941. It reported that there had been no objection to the idea of extending Withyham’s electricity supply to Tophill Farm and added: “For a certain length the cable would be underground and the Clerk explained that the voltage would be such that it would be possible to extend the main to Blackham after the war.” Fast forward eight years and on 29 July 1949 we find that promise is unfulfilled and the parish council are still discussing the topic. “Withyham Parish Council agreed on Wednesday to remind the South Eastern Electricity Board of the need for supplying electric light to the village of Blackham – which at present is forced to rely on oil lamps and candles. “After Mr T H Rayward had
been told by the Clerk that nothing further had been heard from the board since the council last wrote he commented, ‘Blackham people need it badly – especially the farmers.’ “Mr F J Spendlove thought the greatest difficulty was the supply of transformers but Mr Rayward replied, ‘They said that when Ashurst got their light quickly.’ “New council houses which had been built, he reminded the council, were lit by oil lamps and candles and people were ‘clamouring for electricity.’ “His proposal that the council should write to the board was carried unanimously. Clearly the letter had no effect because on 27 February 1950 Mr Harty put an advert in the Courier which read: “Tractor Driver Wanted: used to hops; modern cottage but no
electricity – Harty, Hobbs Hill Farm, Blackham, Tun Wells (Phone Fordcombe 44).” The Courier took up the story again that September under the headline VILLAGES MINUS ELECTRICITY “A thousand people in the area between Holtye and Blackham in Sussex are without electricity although there is a supply 200 yards away over the border in Kent. “Mr H M Lund, who is championing their cause, put these people’s case before Tuesday’s meeting of Hartfield Parish Council. “The Electricity authority in Kent, said Mr Lund, would not come over the border even though the undertaking was nationalised. “He took the matter up with Col R B Clarke, the local MP, and the reason given was that the Kent authority’s lines were too fully occupied to bring electricity over to the Sussex side. “ ‘There are 176 prospective consumers in this area,’ said Mr Lund. ‘If we multiply that by five pre house, we get over a thousand people and yet they
tell us that it is a sparsely populated area.’ “He added that farmers were clamouring for electric milking machines. Many of them were turning over to T.T. milk. “Capital cost of bringing electricity to the area, Mr Lund had been informed, would be in the region of £20,000. To this Mr J R Owen replied that even if such a large scheme as initiated, which was very unlikely owing to financial restrictions, it would be some considerable time before it was completed. “At Mr Owen’s suggestion, Mr Lund will take his case to the S E Regional Officer at the Electricity Board in Tunbridge Wells.” Mr Owen was right, it would be another five years before Blackham got electricity.
A paraffin lamp which would have been a common sight in Blackham up to the mid 1950s
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