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Stories From Local Voices
The Oral History Project: Geoffrey Chalcraft

Geoffrey Chalcraft was born in 1935. He has lived and worked in Steyning all his life and has some interesting memories of the school, and local trades and businesses. In this extract he describes his first job.

Christopher Passmore

When I left school, I didn't take any exams because my father wasn't particularly well-off, and he wanted me to go out to work. I didn't begrudge him that at all. I didn't want to stay at school anyway, so I started at C.F. Wood & Son which is where Truffles now is in the High Street. That was down the road where the little factory building is towards the Health Centre.

They used to have a big garage there – they used to do all their car maintenance there. And he had all those buildings at the back as well. And Wests printing works were there, and I started there as a TV engineer, apprenticeship.

And I was there for five years, and I didn't get called up to do my National Service until I was twenty-one. Because National Service was at eighteen, but if you did an apprenticeship it was delayed, so I didn't go up until I had finished my apprenticeship, City & Guilds and that at the Technical Institute in Brighton.

I worked for Lewis Wood, C.F. Wood, Charles Frederick Wood [. . .] Lewis Wood was the only son, I think, and he was running the business. His father must have died by then. His mother was still alive. They had one of the early televisions in Steyning. I always remember when we went to Sunday School, we used to come home on a Sunday afternoon and we were allowed to go up to Mrs Wood's to watch a bit of telly.

Charles Frederick Wood started off as a motor engineer and he also had the garage up in Jarvis Lane. Just past where St Andrews Hall used to be. There was a big garage there and that's where he had coaches as well. Coaches and taxis. He had a big coach station there and he had a couple of petrol pumps outside.

In the High Street, in Truffles, the doors are still in the middle now, aren't they? Well, on the left-hand side they used to put a car in the window and on the right was the televisions and radios. And the TV workshop was out the back where the printing works is now. It was a little building on the left as you go down Elm Grove Lane.

One of my jobs was to charge. They used to take the batteries off the cars if they were being serviced in the garage, and bring them up, and we used to put them on charge and charge them up. That was one of my jobs when I first started working in the morning. I was about sixteen or seventeen.

See more local voices


Tony Holmes
During WWII, Tony worked with
horses for the coal merchants
E. Holmes & Sons.

Christopher Passmore
Just after WWII, Christopher drove
sheep from Applesham Farm
across the Downs to Findon Fair.

Geoffrey Chalcraft
Geoffrey delayed his National
Service because he had an
apprenticeship as a TV engineer.

Tony Holmes
Tony was at school when a bomb
dropped on Church Street. He saw
the scene shortly afterwards.


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