Contemporary Collecting and Covid 19

Crawley Museum shut its doors to the public in March this year due to Covid-19. The staff have been working behind the scenes, creating new website and exhibition content.

We particularly like sharing memories of Crawley from local residents and would love to hear from anyone who would like their memories to feature on our  website or in the museum.

We’ve also been looking at our collections. We know that they don’t fully reflect the diversity of Crawley’s  communities and want to change this. If you have anything you’d like to donate to the museum to help give a fuller picture of life in Crawley please contact Holly, our curator, for a chat.

We’re hoping to be able to open to the public again in the next few months. It won’t be until August at the earliest.  Shortly after opening we will be seeking people’s memories, photographs and objects to help create a  collection about life in Crawley during lockdown. So do please hang onto anything that you think may be of interest.

Stay safe and we hope to see you soon!

Rubbish – a poem


Rubbish under bushes, rubbish everywhere
Should I ring the council, do you think they’ll care?
Kentucky and McDonalds the take away meal treat
Don’t they know their wrappers are littering our streets?
‘Keep Britain Tidy’ was the slogan of the day
The old road sweeper with his brush to sweep the mess away
This sight is a hazy vision of how things used to be
The clean and well kept neighbourhoods once bright and friendly
Come on Crawley look around you must plainly see
That litter on our streets are not how things are meant to be
Just take a minute before you act discarding that old fag pack
Always do what you were shown, pick up your rubbish and take it home

By Maureen

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Sepia photograph of horse and cart, with two workmen wearing caps and long aprons.
Horse and workmen from Crawley and Ifield Parochial Company. Date unknown. From Crawley Museum’s collection.

Woodall-Duckham House – A short story

Woodall-Duckham House

At 11 The Boulevard in Crawley the “Platform_” building is a modern condominium of flats which opened in 2016.
Mia lives together with her parents Sonya and Allan on the second floor in the West Wing in a nice two-bedroom apartment overlooking the shops on the opposite side of the Boulevard.
Mia, 6 years old, was drawing and colouring on her new Ipad when something in the corner of the room attracted her attention. First, it seemed like something small caught fire and a thin cloud of smoke was raising from near the ornamental plant in the corner of her room. As she was watching the cloud became brighter and Mia started to think she should alert her mother when suddenly the air popped slightly and to her amazement a desk with an old computer materialised in the corner of her room !…and that was not all, a man was concentrating on the computer screen , typing now and then on his keyboard and apparently unaware of Mia’s presence.
Mia could hear the loud clicks on the keyboard when the man stopped typing, looked up from the screen and with mild surprise fixed his eyes on Mia.
– Hello, said the man, I’m John…who are you?
– My name is Mia and I live here with my Mum and Dad and this is my room…said Mia in one go…
The man seemed to Mia both surprised and humoured by the whole situation, he smiled at her and asked again:
– Who brought you here today? …must be one of my colleagues, he thought, some did bring kids to work just to show them around although it did not happen very often.
Mia did not understand how anyone could have “brought her” to her own room so she addressed John with superiority:
– This is My room. Who brought You here?
– I work here, said John. I’m an Engineer and I have been working at this desk for many years, even after 1989 when this desk was moved, together with our company, from Great Dover Street in London to Crawley.
Mia thought about it.
– What’s a company?
John thought about it for a bit, how to explain “a company of engineers” to little Mia?
– Well, it’s a place where many people work together to design things …they draw them first then they get made …we here design big furnaces in which coal gets burned to make hot water and steam, the steam then turns big wheels called turbines and all this turning makes electricity so that your Ipad can be charged when it’s running low on power.
John seemed very pleased with his explanations but to his dismay he noticed Mia frowning towards the end.
– OK, said Mia, I’ll just tell Mum…and with a quick turn she opened the door and ran along the corridor to the living room where Sonya was working today from home.
Sonya looked up Mia and extended her arms to Mia.
– How are you little bear?
– Mum, Mum, there’s a man in my room with a big desk and a computer…he makes electricity!
Sonya laughed with incredulity:
– I see…is he still there?
– Yes, said Mia, please Mum, come, come…
– OK, let’s see him…said Sonya lifting herself from her comfortable study chair and grabbing Mia’s little hand they both started walking towards Mia’s bedroom.
Sonya opened the door.
– There, in the corner, said Mia, pointing to the ornamental pant.
– That’s just the pot with a plant ?! Sonya pretended to be disappointed whilst smiling at Mia.
– But it’s true…said Mia, now a little upset, he Was here, he said things like “company” and “furnace” and “coal”….

Mia was right, she did see something. The quantum universe making up space and time has strange properties that scientists have just started to unravel. Mia has witnessed a quantum superposition maybe enhanced by the inherent quantum entanglement of past, present and future.
An engineer from Babcock Woodall Duckham Ltd working on his designs sometime between 1970 and 1980 appeared in her room in 2019 and for a short while the two realities became one.

The building now called “Platform_” was built in 1964 and its name at the time was Woodall Duckham House.

Image of Woodall-Duckham House

Woodall Duckham Construction Ltd., the engineering company covering a large range of engineering projects from chemical to oil, energy and construction moved from London to Crawley in their new house in 1965.

Advert for qualified chemical engineers

From 1965 to 2016 Woodall Duckham House has seen many engineering companies coming and going, being renamed or just being dissolved.
In 1989 Babcock Power, a spin off Babcock International, moved to Woodall Duckham House from their historical headquarters in Great Dover Street in London.
I joined them in 1992 and remained employed by them until 2017.
Soon Woodall Duckham Ltd. disappeared, Babcock International took over the building and Babcock Power remained the only company in Woodall Duckham House. Babcock Power was later acquired by Mitsui Shipbuilding ( Japan) and renamed Mitsui Babcock. Much later Mitsui sold the business to Doosan Heavy Industries ( South Korea) and the company was again renamed Doosan Babcock which is its name to this day.
In 2010 Doosan Babcock moved out of Woodall Duckham House to new premises in Manor Royal. Work started later on converting the now empty Woodall Duckham House into flats.
The result is “Platform_”, the building which has been given a new lease of life and in which many families live happily to this day.

Whether Mia will choose to become an engineer and work for a “company” it’s unlikely that she will become involved with designs for “coal furnaces” which seem to have been beaten at the moment by green alternatives such as wind turbines, “biomass furnaces” and nuclear power.

Woodall-Duckham House 2010


Woodall-Duckam House 2020


By: Adrian Bruder

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Crabbet Park Memories

My memories of growing up on a private estate, Crabbet Park, in the village of Worth.

As children, my brother, sister and I, had the most wonderful life. Freedom to play, in woodland, streams, forest and fields of the lands owned by Lady Wentworth.

Our lives at Crabbet Park were regulated by the needs of the Arab horses and the farming calendar, and we were most fortunate to be included in these activities.

My father, Burges Stace was head stallion man up at Caxtons Stables, and we lived in a pair of cottages built in the Sussex style in 1938, later demolished for the M23 motorway.

My first memories of the horses are being held up to stroke Oran, a quiet stallion and breathe in the lovely, nutty smell of a clean horse! My father took me to work with him most days before I started school, and then in the school holidays.

The quiet of the barn, where the young colts spent their first year, was a wonderful playground, this stood next to Caxtons Farm House, a very old house, lived in by a lovely lady, Peggy Leppard and her husband, Harry. Peggy was a firm favourite of mine and my sisters, as she would call for us on her way home from the Big House where she was Lady Wentworth`s housekeeper, over to the delights of Caxtons House, sweets in the old syrup tin, mystery doors and huge fireplaces, we loved to stay there with her, and `help` her with the `house` sewing.

My father, Burges Stace, was a stallion man for Lady Wentworth, and worked from 15 years of age to when Cecil Covey gave up the Arab Horses Stud, which was in 1973, when my dad was 63, a total of 48 years man and boy.

In the afternoons on the estate, the men carried out maintenance work along side the farm workers, but my dad also had other tasks. To me the most enjoyable, was mole catching. Whole afternoons spent in my dad’s company, wandering round the fields of Crabbet and Frogshole, rain or shine. Spotting which traps had been sprung,I would feel so very sorry for the moles, who were after all only doing what moles do.

Men leading stallions through brick archway

Coronation Stables Parade Ground – Fred Branch, Fred Rice, Peter Hardwood. (photograph from Stella Berrisford)

In the autumn we spent many hours hedging and ditching, laying new hedges, replacing fences, this was an added bonus as the men on the estate always received a wagon load of wood for their fires, and fence rails to me and my sister were so easily stackable when sawn.

Dad’s other duties were chaff cutting, a horrible, dusty job, which contributes to `farmers lung’ caused by heavy dust particles., which eventually in his retirement caused his death. Another chore down at the `bottom` feed house, was the boiling of the linseed, and then dad had to carry two heavy steaming buckets on a neck yoke, up Caxtons Hill to the stallion stables, as a child, I disliked this so much, I thought that my dear dad was used without consideration when I knew there were tractors available.

Harvesting at Crabbet, Wakemans Green and Frogshole took up a great deal of the men’s working hours, working until dusk, arriving home filthy dirty, and no running hot water! Our hot water was heated in a copper outside, my mother was a hero, backwards and forwards with the buckets to wash and bathe in. In those days , all the men took to the harvest fields were bottles of cold tea to keep up their fluids.

Lady Wentworth was very much against cutting down any trees, so any emergency limbing or cutting had to be done when she was not around, my dad and Peter Harwood did most of the estates tree work, and subsequent bonfires, another children’s joy, smelly hair and clothes but lots of fun.

All the maintenance work on the buildings at Crabbet were carried out by Mannings & Co from Crawley Down, including the interiors of the cottages, they also creosoted the fences around the stables, still an aroma to bring back memories of hot sunny days.

Mares, foals and grooms in stable yard

Coronation Stables yard – mares and foals – Fred Branch, Rod Stace, Cecil Covey. Photograph from Stella Berrisford.

On afternoons in spring when the mares and foals were being brought in, my sister, Daphne and I would like to go down the hill to The Coronation Stables yard to watch our Uncle Rod and the other men, round up the foals and sort them into the right stables, our parents were told that it was really too dangerous for us, so we had to forego the excitement of watching the men shout and the whole place like a wild west show, and console ourselves with feeding our favourite stallions with as much grass as we could carry in our outstretched skirts.

Village life centred around the church, and Sunday School. We attended both, my brother and I achieving 100% attendance most years. We had wonderful Christmas parties, sports days and an outing to the seaside every year. The Worth Horticultural Society had their annual show at the Worth School, we always went along in the hope that our dad would win the pig, the nearest we got to this, was our next door neighbour won a goose, named by us as Gracie, and she lived for 15years. She was a wonderful guard goose, in her dislike of men and boys she would honk, hiss and flap her wings, much to our delight.

Crabbet Park and the way of life changed dramatically after Lady Wentworth died in 1957. Cecil Covey inherited Caxtons Stables and Frogshole Farm, the stallions stayed at Caxtons, and the brood mares went down to newly built stables at Frogshole Farm where Cecil Covey lived. The estate at Crabbet Park changed forever with a wood merchant buying and taking down all the commercially viable trees. The land changed hands many times, before the intervention of the M23 motorway.

A Racing Yard was run from the Coronation Stables and the threshing barn was renovated into a dwelling house. After this it was a nationally acclaimed riding school, it changed hands again and is still to this day a riding school.

When the M23 motorway was planned, a parcel of Caxtons land was required and my family’s home was demolished to make way for the motorway. Then Cecil Covey decided to give up his Arab Horses altogether, so new homes were built for my parents and their neighbours further along the Turners Hill Road.

Frogshole Farm was also wanted by the Crawley Town planners, so that was also sold and became Maidenbower a new neighbourhood of Crawley.

four men leading horses along a country lane

Caxtons Drive – 4 horses with Fred Rice, Rod Stace, unknown, Cecil Covey – photograph from Stella Berrisford

To find out more about Crabbet Park, read Liz Archer”s articles

And more memories from Stella Berrisford

Memories of Crabbet Park

My brother, sister and I were the third generation of my family to live at Crabbet Park.
We lived in a Sussex style cottage at Caxtons on the estate, where my father was Stallion Man for Lady Wentworth.

House, with horses in the field in front

Caxtons Cottages

Our lives were ordered by the changing seasons and the care of the Arab stallions. In spring we would pick snowdrops which flowered in Caxtons House garden. In the woods and paddocks we would pick bunches of lent lilies, primroses, bluebells and cowslips, always taking bunches for our granny and great aunts.
In autumn we would pick blackberries, hazelnuts and chestnuts from the woods, always accompanied in the paddocks by curious mares and foals as to what we were doing, we had no fear of them or them of us.

I can remember one early morning, going to see the yearling colts in a meadow near our cottage, they looked to me so comfortably asleep on the ground, I could not resist climbing the fence and walking over to them and laying down amongst them with my arms around a colts neck. This very pleasant time was interrupted by the Stud Manager shouting at me, to come out of the field and I had brisk telling off about the dangers of frisky colts. My parents were duly warned that I was forbidden to enter the colts’ paddocks.

Another time when my parents were not at home my sister and I were called urgently by our Uncle Rodney that a gate had been left open in the paddocks and Indian Magic was on his way into the next paddock where Indian Gold was already becoming agitated and would fight, we must catch Indian Magic and lead him away and shut the offending gate.

I was aged nine years and my sister was six at the time, I had up to then, never put a head collar on a stallion on my own, luckily for us Indian Magic was a quiet and steady horse and knew me and my sister very well. He stopped when I called him and stood for me to pull his head down far enough to slip on the head collar and buckle it up. In the meantime the other stallion who was very excitable and fiery was racing up and down his side of the fence roaring challenges. My uncle waited away from the paddocks as he feared that the horses would take against him as he was a stranger to them both but he could still see us.
We led Indian Magic away to safety, shut the gate and left him to munch grass. I shook like a leaf afterwards when telling my mum and dad.

We went with my dad and mum to all the major Horse Shows, where our Crabbet Arabian horses won first prizes and the breed championships, very proud we were too of them and our dad`s hard work in preparing the horses for the shows and the appreciation of Lady Wentworth.

(Stella Berrisford, nee Stace)

Find out more about Crabbet Park in Liz Archer’s articles

four men leading horses along a country lane
Caxtons Drive – 4 horses with Fred Rice, Rod Stace, unknown, Cecil Covey – photograph from Stella Berrisford
White stallion
Silver Vanity with Burge Stace
Grey stallion
Chestnut stallion

Thanks to Stella Berrisford for the use of the photographs.

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