"Salt-caked coaster" from Seaham

By Roger Morley

My wife Janette and I lived in Seaford from July, 1965, when we were married, until late 1966, when we moved to Denton, where we lived until we moved back to North London in 1970 (mistake!). I used to play the "organ" at Tarring Neville Church, on the occasions when they held services there. My wife worked at Vacco then Ranalah Gates (where she met Charlie Watts!), until the birth of our first son in December, 1968, and I worked in the laboratories of Ferguson's on Denton Island, all the time we there, until our return to London.

Every couple of weeks, we witnessed the arrival of an ancient coaster from Seaham, which unloaded directly opposite Ferguson's laboratories, on the man-made cut, which had created the quay for the purpose, and Denton Island itself. I have tried everywhere to find the name of that coaster, without succcess. Can anyone help, please? I remember its last trip, before being scrapped. The bridge opened to let this coal-fired, filthy, sooty, yet brightly bunting-bedecked coaster through for its final unloading!

I have numerous (mostly happy) memories of dear old Newhaven, like the time it was actually cut off for 24 hours by heavy snow in the winter of 1967/1968. I think I've got the year right, but I know I'm correct in remembering that a large number the workers at Ferguson's who were brought in every day by coaches from Brighton, Lewes and Eastbourne had to spend that Friday night in the canteen, unless they had friends to stay with!

I will try to dig out some pictures to add. I know I have some to support the snow story. Also some of happy days at the Flying Fish in Denton, where I used to play the piano now and then, and where I could sometimes be persuaded to play Rugby Songs, for community singing!

This page was added by Roger Morley on 22/05/2008.
Comments about this page

Well, I never played at the Flying Fish, but I have played the organ at St Mary's, Tarring Neville.

As for the coaster, the only regular 'steam' coaster I can recall would be the collier 'Keynes'. She was black, and had a black funnel with a broad silver band. Does this sound like the right one? I'm sure we can come up with a photo if it is.


By Andy Gilbert
On 23/05/2008

Yes Andy, I noted you had played at St. Mary's (please see my notes added to that page). "Keynes" rings a vague bell with me, but I thought the name would have more readily re-activated the old grey matter than that. Maybe the picture would help, but I am starting to think that you could well be right.
Thanks, and I hope you enjoy my comments on your St. Mary's page.

By Roger Morley
On 23/05/2008

Hi Roger. As you are aware I also work at 'Fergusons' (among other names) on the Island for 24 years from 1964 to 1988 and I remember watching the 'Keynes' dock at the North Quay on many ocassions so I am sure that Andy, with his expert knowledge, is spot on. Strange you should mention the heavy snowfall because that brings back a lot of memories. I can't remember if it was 1967 or 1968, but our factory canteen floor was littered with bodies on the Friday night, as most of them had spent the entire evening in either the 'Bridge' or 'Ship'. I lived with my Mum and Dad in Brighton Road at the time and remember my Mum accommodating at least 5 people and making all of us a big supper when we got home at about 11pm, after consuming copius amounts of alcohol in the aformentioned establishments. Shame it all melted next day !! What about this website eh, Fantastic.

By Paul Blackman
On 21/07/2008

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