How far to go back to find the ‘real’ Horsham?

By Simon Clare

I grew up near the northern tip of Horsham, or at least what was its northern tip at the time. When my friends and I were feeling particularly adventurous and disobedient, we would walk northwards into the adjacent countryside, which was a stone’s throw away across Chennell’s Brook.

We trekked across an entire field to a fantastic conker tree surrounded, as I remember, by gigantic, dry cow pats. Cook Road represented the most northerly outpost of Horsham’s suburbs at that time, beyond which lay nothing but trees, grass and cows.

Children who attended Holbrook Primary school over the last 20 years will have benefited from the destruction of the very fields I sneaked around on as a child. I am sure that generations before me felt the same about Amundsen Road when it was built.

Going further back in time, perhaps every generation resented the developments of the next. How far back do we have to go to find the real Horsham? All the way back to the start?

When Mr and Mrs Horse first built their horse-farm on those virginal Mid-Sussex fields, there was nobody there to object. They built their house and lived happily in it. Horsham was big enough, or so they believed.

They probably objected when someone went and built another house right next door because they coveted the Horsham lifestyle. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the first Horsham resident to complain about new houses being built was Mr Horse himself.

The custom that he began has been lovingly preserved by successive generations of residents as they engage in the traditional objections to houses being built nearby.

The difference between today’s complainers and those of yesteryear is that today developers are compelled to design estates that have minimal impact on the environment.

Many of the people that bemoan these new houses probably live in homes that are less energy efficient than the new ones. Modern developers spend tens – even hundreds – of thousands of pounds to try to prevent rainwater flowing to rivers any more quickly than when it was all fields.

We all want the countryside preserved but we also like being able to live in Horsham. Rather than just moan, let’s keep pressure on our legislators to ensure that developments are sustainable, so that future generations can live happy lives on the cowpat strewn fields of my childhood, just like you do.

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