We were delighted to receive an email from a visitor to our website that included a photograph of a can of cycle oil that he had recently acquired with the label “James Farren & Son, Station Road, Cowfold”.
We were pleased to provide him with the following background information on the find:
James Farren originally came to the village as a journeyman blacksmith working in a village forge. He and his son gradually developed a business that repaired bicycles. The business was attached to Sussex House where they lived. James’s son, Frederick, fought in the First War War as an engine fitter and, when he returned home, the business expanded to encompass cars. This led them to acquire a new premises, White Lined House, in the early 1920’s and where they had petrol pumps on the roadside.
As the address on your can is Station Road, we would imagine that it could date from the first quarter of the 20th century.
Rather sadly, Bob Farren (James Farren’s grandson) passed away this year aged 91; he would have loved to see your photo.
A larger version of the photograph is here.
Marjorie Baker was a well renowned local photographer who had worked in the Henfield area since before the Second World War. When she died in 2004, she bequeathed her entire archive to Henfield Museum.
The collection of 30,000 negatives spans 60 years and is a fascinating record of country life throughout the twentieth century. It includes a number of photographs of buildings and events held in Cowfold and the Society is pleased to have obtained copies of these from Henfield Museum. These can be viewed here.
The Robert Farren Shield
On Wednesday 11 October children, teachers and members of the Cowfold Village History Society gathered together to present the Robert Farren Shield to the school. Bob Farren was the instigator of the Cowfold Village History Society and it’s first Chairman. History and its importance in understanding the past and the present was the central theme of Assembly at St Peter’s School, Cowfold .
Mike Burt, current Chairman of CVHS told the children about Bob Farren and his family and their significant contribution to the village. Bob’s family came to the village around 1888, nearly 130 years ago. His grandfather worked initially as a journeyman blacksmith but after some years he and Bob’s father established and operated the only garage in the village up to the 1930s when the Bridge Garage was built by Fowlers. Bob was born in April 1926 and went to St Peter’s school in 1931 when he was five. He was a pupil there until 1940 before going to Collyer’s in Horsham and then enlisting in the RAF in 1944. Bob had fond memories of the school and did well, becoming Senior Prefect in 1940. After the war Bob ran a TV rental business in the village as well as helping to run the garage owned by his father. The TV shop closed in the early 1970s and Bob then ran the garage until its closure in 1988. But Bob continued to make a significant contribution to village life, including serving on the Parish Council and making a major contribution to the local British Legion branch, ultimately becoming their President and receiving the Legion’s Gold Medal for extended distinguished service. His children grew up in the village and went to St Peter’s school in the 1950s. In 2009 Bob was one of the founding members of the Cowfold Village History Society, becoming its first chairman until 2015 and then its Honorary President. Bob died at Homelands Nursing Home in February this year, aged 90.
Mike explained that the shield was to be awarded each year to the pupil who had shown “enthusiasm for history and advanced enquiry skills”. In addition that pupil would receive a £20 book token from the History Society
The shield was then presented to Mrs Rhoda Wilson, senior teacher Year 6, in the absence of the head teacher, Giles Kolter.
We have recently received a number of photographs from Horsham Museum that are believed to have been taken in Cowfold and have been asked to help identify them.
We have added captions to those that we recognise. If you can identify any of the other photographs, or can supply any additional background information, we would be pleased to hear from you. Check them out here.
Thanks to the sterling work of Mike Burt and Neil Williams, as part of our WW2 research you can now peruse a map on our website which shows where aircraft crashes and bombing occurred in Cowfold and the surrounding areas.
The Junior History Page is a new page to showcase the work that pupils at St Peter’s School Cowfold do as part of their History Syllabus. The CVHS work closely with the school promoting an enjoyment of, and interest in, local history and the Head Master is extremely supportive of these links. This page shows what very valuable contributions are already being made by the next generation in continuing to document and preserve our history for future generations.
Want to test your knowledge? How much can you remember?
We have a fun quiz for you to have a go at. You will find it under ‘Quiz Corner”.
Can you score enough to earn a certificate? Have a go and if you enjoy it let us know. Then we can happily create more quizzes in the future!
Michael Burt was unanimously elected as the new Chairman of the Society at the Annual General Meeting held in the Village Hall on 7 April 2017. Stella Bianco and Sue Crofts will continue in their roles as Honorary Secretary and Membership Secretary, respectively.
Following his election, Mike outlined some of the current initiatives and new ones that would be considered by the committee at its next meeting on 19 June 2017. In addition to the ongoing projects on World War I and World War II, recording the memories of longstanding residents of Cowfold and research based on the 1911 Census (which will be the theme for the Society’s display at the Summer Festival) and the Godman Book, the Society is considering with St Peter’s School, an annual award in memory of Bob Farren, given to the pupil contributing most to learning history. Mike also highlighted the new Society website and urged members to make as much use of it as possible.
Mike and the rest of the committee have many other potential projects in the pipeline, so please contact the Society if you would like to get involved in the research. (You can use the contact form on the “Contact Us” page.)
After the AGM, Jan Case gave an excellent talk based on her research of the Godman Book. This includes many charming memories of the village written by Colonel C B Godman, a major figure in, and contributor to, the village in the early 1900s. (It also features as one of the Cowfold Ten Objects listed on the website.) Much of the material presented by Jan will be included on the website shortly.
Dig On For Victory poster
This project aims to capture the memories of some residents who lived in or around the village as children during World War II.
So far, seven residents have been interviewed and their memories provide a fascinating picture of life at that time. In addition, the WWII period has been transcribed from the St Peter’s School log book and the admission register for that time has also been examined.
Background research and contextual material about WWII is being obtained and further specific research is being undertaken, for example, into the air force squadrons that were based in the area and on sites where German and Italian prisoners of war worked.
The hope is that there will be enough material and interest to write a book about this. However, the committee would be pleased to hear from anyone not already approached who would like to share their memories of the village and who may have photographs taken at that time.
Please contact: Mike Burt by telephone on 01403 710182 or by email at email@example.com.
Troops passing through village
We’d very much like to hear from anyone who might be a relative of people who lived in Cowfold at the time of World War One and would love to see any photos or memorabilia from the village at that time.