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15 October 2014
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African Artifacts

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Norman Foord
Location of story: 
Brighton, East Sussex
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
03 August 2005

The dump, we called it The Tip, was in Sheepcote Valley — it’s still there actually — but in those days it was a very deep valley, nowadays it’s about level with the tops of the hills. But at the beginning of the war, the decision was made to clear out the basement of Brighton Museum and hence we had lorry loads of all sorts of things coming, many of which were of great interest to schoolchildren. We had guns and swords and spears, you name it, we had all the things that kids were interested in and the one thing I do remember was this shield: there was a Zulu leather shield which one of the lads collected. But he was most upset later on because his father, in fact, had cut it up to sole his shoes. It had these great footprints cut out of the leather.

They were interested in making somewhere for the people to be safe. They had a civilian population in Brighton shopping, what have you… I can remember going into the factory that I worked in later on, they had a basement and they cleared out and made it into air-raid shelters. It was simply underground areas — anywhere they could find — to herd people from the streets into a fairly safe area, and the Museum was one of them. So there wasn’t a thought about what was in there. Let’s face it, it would probably have lain there for years and done absolutely nothing, because I used to go to Brighton Museum and the displays never changed, they were the same year in and year out. They just cleared anything they could to make air-raid shelters. There wasn’t time to build them, although lots of air-raid shelters were built here.

I remember my father building an air-raid shelter when we lived in Whitehawk, before the war started all the fathers were asked to dig trenches in parks. So they did all the digging, brick-laying etc and made an air-raid shelter and all the fathers came into it. In fact the guy next door, he was an expert because he was a Welsh miner and they’d come to Brighton before the war to re-face the cliffs because there was so much unemployment in South Wales, he was then the next-door neighbour. So that trench was built.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by volunteer Sue Craig on behalf of Norman Foord, and has been added to the site with her permission. Norman fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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