Lost East Grinstead
- Dorothy Hatswell
15th September 2023
East Grinstead in West Sussex has a fascinating history. It flourished as a market town and staging post by virtue of its position, midway between London and the South Coast. Well-known for its many points of interest, including the historic High Street and St Swithun's church, it has become a vibrant community and tourist destination.
In ‘Lost East Grinstead’, local author Dorothy Hatswell has brought together a collection of more than 150 archive colour, black-and-white and sepia images to show how the town and its daily life have changed across the last century. Different chapters focus on subjects including transport, entertainment, commerce, customs and buildings.The most rapid changes occurred after the Second World War. Returning servicemen did not always wish to pick up where they had left off, pre-war. Women, although their emancipation had started earlier, were now able to do a wider range of occupations and most did not want to return to being just housewives.
The large houses, built when the railway reached East Grinstead in 1855, employed many people as gardeners, grooms, housemaids and cooks, but found that they could no longer attract staff. One by one they were sold and demolished or converted into offices. Developers built estates of houses for the less affluent. Life was different for children too. The 1944 Education Act meant they could go to Grammar School, if they passed the eleven-plus. These changes gave many people the chance of upward mobility.
‘Lost East Grinstead’ is a superb visual chronicle of the town offering a fascinating glimpse into the past.