Southwick’s Miraculous Escape –
The day a Valiant jet crashed
Saturday mornings 10.30 to 12.30 from May 28th to July 9th
66 years ago, at lunch time on 11 May 1956, Southwick suffered a tragedy of the Cold War when an RAF Valiant bomber crashed on the railway line just south of Croft Avenue. Tragic though it was, the crash could have been a major catastrophe. If the aircraft had crashed a little to the north it could have obliterated Manor Hall Road Junior Boys School and adjacent houses. A little to the east or west it would have crashed on to houses and just to the south there were more houses and the busy harbour where the new Brighton B power station and major port installations were under construction; many people could have been killed or injured. Southwick had had a miraculous escape. Sadly of the crew, the pilot, navigator and a civilian engineer were killed. Only the co-pilot was able to eject, he landed near the railway station and survived.
What was a Valiant bomber doing over Southwick and why did it crash? The Southwick Society are holding a major new exhibition in the Manor Cottage Heritage Centre, Southwick Street, about the crash. Using the official accident investigation reports, newspaper articles and eyewitness accounts they have put together a record of what happened to an almost new Valiant bomber on Friday 11th May 1956 and how it affected the local people and community.
The exhibition is accompanied by two books about the incident, Southwick’s Miraculous Escape by Mary Candy and Those Valiant Men by John Young.
Southwick’s Royal Connections
Saturday mornings 10.30 to 12.30 from May 28th to August 27th
From King Charles’ escape in 1651 to the Duke of Gloucester’s visit in 2019 this exhibition looks at Royal visitors and how Southwick has celebrated past coronations and jubilees. The Manor Cottage kitchen will be decorated as it might have been on Coronation Day.
Ted Heasman’s Legacy –
A Celebration of Southwick’s well-loved local historian
Saturday mornings 10.30 to 12.30 July 16th to August 27th
Ted spent his life talking to locals and picking up bits of information. He also spent hours at the West Sussex Records Office trawling through historical documents. He was always willing to share his knowledge and his vast collection of photographs. This exhibition looks at Ted’s legacy to Southwick’s history. It includes various documents and artefacts given to the Society by Ted and videos of him chatting about Southwick.