Photo: Illustrative image for the 'OUR NEWHAVEN' page

The present

By Graham Huntley

Looking through the website, entranced by the pictures of Newhaven as it was, I was struck by a sudden thought. These don't often happen with me so it was a bit of a surprise but, after a lie down, I'm now back to expand further.......It's all very well documenting our past but today's present is tomorrow's history and it got me thinking about present-day Newhaven.

Although involved in Newhaven for many years, I've only lived here for 4 and, during that time, I have heard many grandiose schemes to get Newhaven "on the map". Words aplenty, plans aplenty and even some tangible results but Newhaven, to most outsiders, is merely an inconvenient traffic hold-up en route to somewhere else. Much is being done to provide economic development in the area and housing projects, both completed and projected, are there but what about the heart of the town? We live in an age where one-stop shopping is the great god and this, of course, has sounded the death-knell of the small shopkeeper.

It was those small shops that kept Newhaven's heart beating and were, effectively, the central hub of the community. Nowadays, the High Street is far from being a place that attracts but merely a place for the odd purchase for those without a need to travel further afield.  I remember North Laine in Brighton some time back: nothing special and certainly no place to make the walk from the town centre. Now, of course, it has evolved into something far more. An area buzzing with people, a myriad interesting shops, plenty of places to sit, have a drink and people-watch and a whole new community.

The problem in Newhaven is where does one start? We have a town centre invisible from outside, (from what I've been told) business rates which strangle most independent shops, larger retailers who are aiming their products at the cheaper end of the market and competition from absolutely everywhere else. Is it small wonder that Newhaven is dormant?

Having said that, imagine a Newhaven with fresh life breathed into it. We have a tremendous catchment area around us yet those people prefer to travel to other towns. More importantly, how many of us support the local shops rather than just using them for the things we forget when we've done "proper" shopping elsewhere? Picture a town centre full of people. Picture the streets as they could be; vibrant, alive and buzzing with anticipation. Pie in the sky? Well, maybe it is at the present but, let's face it, in a couple of generations time what will our families be looking at on such a website as this?

We have a town steeped in local history and we have a population who are able to help keep that history alive. I sincerely hope that people care enough to not only document all the memories but also to help create the history of the future by creating a real community of the present.

Here seems as good a vehicle as any for people to put forward their views, comments, ideas or maybe, dreams for the future of OUR town. I, for one, appreciate the chance.

This page was added by Graham Huntley on 24/09/2007.
Comments about this page

I do agree with what Graham has to say. I live outside the area but am involved in Newhaven so my perception is different. I know that the volunteers and editors on this website work hard and do a good job but it would be refreshing to see more focus on the present and future.

Newhaven may well be a bit down at the moment but future generations will not thank us for being obsessed with the past and failing to feature and promote the present and the future of the town.

Unfortunately, current businesses are not very well represented and perhaps more could be done to promote the shops, workshops, services and the people who work in them. After all, these are the lifeblood of the town and such information would be valuable to visitors.

You might think that community websites should not get involved with businesses. However other, villages/towns do this succesfully. An example of this would be a village website local to me www.grayshott.com

P.S. I previously posted a similar comment on the town council website. Unfortunately, nothing has changed. Perhaps that's Newhaven.

Keith Kinsbrook

By Keith Kinsbrook
On 26/01/2009

Unfortunately, (in my opinion anyway) Graham & Keith have misunderstood the idea behind this particular web site. On the home page, it clearly states "People can share their memories, photos, maps and thoughts about Newhaven, past & present and ...record and become a part of a living history of your town"

NB : (i) memories (ii) past and present (iii) history

Memories whether they are written words or photos can only be Past & Present, you cannot have memories or photos of the future.

I am sure when it was set up, it was the intention that this site should contain mainly the past, there are already several other web sites concerning Newhaven where Trade, Industry and ideas about the future can (and have been) aired, such as the Newhaven Town Council website already quoted by Keith.

Pages on the OurNewhaven site are just that, the present & the past, the future is not the past or the present, it is the future. Richard

By Richard Beckett
On 28/01/2009

Richard. Having read carefully your comments, I don't think I have misunderstood the concept of the website at all although I do appreciate you putting them so simply for me.

Each memory, each photograph, each event which is celebrated here took place in what was, at the time, the present. If contemporaneous records were not kept then a website such as this would have nothing to publish for generations to come. In other words, by the website existing in the present, it is providiing collated data for the future. An example of the present becoming part of a future history. My comment which was made regarding the (then) current situation in Newhaven is therefore, by definition, now history and is thus valid as a snapshot in time.

Times change very quickly - one only has to look at the photographs of Newhaven in the 70s and 80s to appreciate that. Who is to say that, in 20 years time, Newhaven will have changed dramatically once more? My article (as an historical document) was a fervent hope that any such change will be positive and maybe people will read it in the future and say just how right or how wrong I was.

By Graham Huntley
On 28/02/2009

Maybe sarcasm and disagreements are the very reasons so many ideas to rejuvenate Newhaven have failed.

I was born and raised in Newhaven until my parents moved me to the Midlands, and on the occassions that I have visited Newhaven I have been shocked by the way the town seems to have died. Surely, being the only sand beach for miles around, with land to spare and a contained town centre, there must be ways of raising money to breathe life back into the area. Is there no local community group who could approach the lottery for example?

My comments on the Graham and Richard's before is that they are both right and could maybe pool their energy!

By Bett Hill
On 25/08/2009

I moved to Hastings in 1971 and thought " I have moved from a lovely vibrant town to this!". I have to say I think the opposite now. I will always love Newhaven, but Hastings is alive and a wonderful place to live.

By Terry Howard
On 22/02/2010

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