assing Through is a book about a town called Peacehaven. Part family album, part archive cabinet, part diary; it is an explorative journey of discovery. By delving through collections of photographs, postcards, newspapers, town plans & maps, letters & articles, taped interviews, adverts & promotional materials whilst gathering new records this work re-represents the archive and consequently the town of Peacehaven by embedding itself within a larger history. It presents a rich, diverse and multi layered narrative where no single part is larger than the whole. Passing Through reflects upon the ways in which subjects are included within their own representation. It examines the role of photographs and visual information in the construction of history and memory in considering how this information is collected and used in re-representing those histories and memories, both personal and public. In 1914 Peacehaven was just a vision. It was one man’s dream to create a seaside resort to rival that of nearby neighbouring Brighton. The then undeveloped site where Peacehaven now stands represented a rare opportunity to secure a stunning and unique coastal estate. With its orderly avenues and grid based planning it’s expansion followed a style familiar to North American developers. It is quite unlike the ‘urban-sprawl’ developments, which reflect the growth of most East Sussex seaside towns. Peacehaven’s scattering of cheap ‘homes for heroes’ expanded during the two World Wars. At the time it was something completely new and heavy national and international press meant that it attracted settlers from far and wide. Alternating between personal and public memories Passing Through is a metaphoric journey mirroring the photographer’s own exploration of discovery. As the narratives build, they help construct a sense of place; suggesting the thought processes involved in the town-founder’s own plans and objectives. This temporal interplay alludes to the blurred boundaries existing between historical fact and personal memory. Its extension into the arrangement of the visual materials before us on the page is a reminder that the textures of real life are all the more tangible when presented to us through a personal and curated approach. Passing Through ‘rethinks’ the archive. Within the creation of this new, re-worked collection, grounded in the reality of existing materials, we are presented with a unique collection of anthologies, each benefiting from each another’s existence. In the process of conveying one man’s vision of a ‘Garden City by the Sea’ Passing Through unearths a rich and unique catalogue of visual evidence. With the benefit of hindsight Peacehaven acts as an idiosyncratic case study exploring and rethinking how a place is documented and represented. Looking back, perhaps Peacehaven never fulfilled its founder’s visions and dreams. But lives were lived and those that settled there created history and so it will go on with those there now and by those who will follow.
“...Peacehaven, which was an area of almost waste land three years ago, is now on the way to becoming a garden city by the sea...” Daily Telegraph
“ The amazing growth of Peacehaven, the pleasure resort established where the South Downs slope towards the sea...” Reading Observer
“...Brighton and Newhaven will soon have a competitor at their doors...” Northampton Evening Telegraph
“...Some of the pleasantest bungalows possible have been erected...” Kent Messenger
“...As a piece of town planning, Peacehaven is an achievement...”
The South Coast Land & Resort Co.
The first time
â€œ I saw the land forming Peacehaven was 1914. On a fine summer day early in 1914, my wife and I motored along the coast road to Brighton. In those days the roads were not what they are today. It did not take long to visualise this site as ideal for development as a seaside resort.â€?
In 1914, Mr Charles Neville bought land at Piddinghoe, now part of Peacehaven, for ÂŁ16,200 freehold
â€œ possession was obtained of the land I had bought.What later became Peacehaven was a lonely and difficult place to get at, hours would go by without a vehicle appearing on the road and then only a farm or wagon. I slept in that office for a good many months. There are very few people now in the neighbourhood who can recollect the happenings of 1916-1918.â€?
from London by train on free tickets or a special train and there was a line up of every kind of vehicle outside of Newhaven Station who took passengers to the Estate for 6d. and 1/-.â€?
In 1922 to promote Peacehaven, the Estate company put on a special Pullman train from London Victoria to Brighton known as the â€˜Peacehaven Expressâ€™.
“The original name for Peacehaven
was New Anzac on Sea, a name chosen by judges from more than 80,000 names submitted in a countrywide competition of a name for the new seaside resort.The advertisement appeared in all the national daily newspapers published at that time. The competition offered a first prize of £100 cash and 50 of our regular size building plots priced at £50. It will however interest you to know that more than 200 people put forward the name ‘Peacehaven’ so that no one had monopoly on it. .We still receive letters from people, and had one in 1959, from a person who sent in the name asserting they were entitle to the first prize.”
Above: Display cabinet in Peacehaven Library of Peacehaven artefacts donated by the Peacehaven Historical society, 2010. Top Right: Article from the Sussex Archaeological Society, 1924. Far Right:View downwards onto Peacehaven beach, 2010. Bottom Right: Postcard of Peacehaven beach, undated. Right: Letter from Peacehaven Historical Society informing of its closure, 2008.
Ordnance Survey, 1948, Peacehaven Library Local Studies Department
Miscellaneous photos of Peacehaven, Peacehaven Library Local Studies Department
Envelope, Peacehaven Library Local Studies Department
Untitled photo album, Peacehaven Library Local Studies Department
John Sheridan Jnr (the eldest
one of five siblings) moved to Peacehaven from the Republic of Ireland as a baby, with his parents John Snr and Elma Sheridan. They were amongst Peacehavenâ€™s earliest settlers.
John Sheridan Jnr, Peacehaven, 1920â€™s
My father was a bit pro -British.
John Sheridan Snr, Peacehaven, about 1925
John Sheridan Jnr & brother Harry
“It was Uncle Joe, he seduced them to come over and make their pile. So they took me and came over and bought a bungalow. Peacehaven was very wild in those days, muddy roads and everything, full of chalk and gauze bushes...”
John Snr & Elma Sheridan
Uncle Joe & John Sheridan Snr
“At the time it felt that Peacehaven was full of outlandish funny people who seemed to come from the four corners of the world and settle there and they were all a bit eccentric... And I wasn’t conscious at all at the time that I was an Irish person living in England. I guess you could say I was a bit wild. I didn’t like school. I remember running away from home once and getting a mile out of Peacehaven before my father came and found me.”
Elizabeth (Elma) Sheridan and John Sheridan Snr
“So my father
started a business. Him and his brother Uncle Joe bought a garage and the family began to grow. It was me and my brother Harry and sisters May and Dingle who spent some of our childhoods in Peacehaven. My 2 youngest brothers Leo and Kevin were born back in Ireland once my parents had left Peacehaven and resettled back in Ireland. Later on in my early twenties I came back to the UK. I had some years in service with the RAF and I married an English woman.”
Harry Sheridan, Peacehaven 1929
Brothers Harry, Leo and Uncle Joe at John Sheridan Snr’s funeral in Galway, 1950
Siblings (Front from left) May, John Jnr & Dingle (Back from left) Leo, Kevin & Harry Sheridan at their mother’s funeral (Elma Sheridan) 1985
John Sheridan Jnr, Lubeck Germany, 1948
Grave of John Snr & Elma Sheridan in Galway, Ireland
John Sheridan Jnr (Centre) & brother Kevin Sheridan (far right) Galway, Ireland, 1978
Edie Sheridan, Uncle Joe’s wife outside Sheridan’s Garage in the 1920’s
Sheridan’s Garage in the 1920’s
Plot containing industrial units where Sheridan’s Garage stood, 1970’s
Commercial building in the plot where Sheridanâ€™s Garage stood, 2010
The Sunlight League, published in 1934 showing daily average reading of Ultra-Violet Light received by the Sunlight League. Peacehaven is second place to St Ives, Cornwall.
View from where Sheridanâ€™s Garage stood, 2010
“ ow I suppose it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, first impressions are that I was a little disappointed with it. It was a cold day anyway and I felt the cliffs were a little off-putting and imposing...”
“But I did have thoughts and
feelings about my parents and my four brothers and sisters.That they had been there, swam there and walked about. So I still carry with part of my memories of them, memories of Peacehaven even though I myself never lived there.”
Kevin Sheridan, 2009 Susan & Kevin Sheridan with son Damian Sheridan, 1978
â€œMy parents were kind of outgoing,
gregarious people, particularly my father. I think they had good memories of their time in Peacehaven. My mother talked a lot about the musical concerts, she was a pianist and had a great soprano voice. She was friends with Gracie Fields and used to sing her songs to me all time when I was a child growing up in Ireland.â€?
Kevin & wife Susan Sheridan, 1977
Susan & Kevin Sheridan with children Damian & Sarah, 1985