Sedlescombe Village Green looking south
Changes in Sedlescombe in last 50 years of 20th century
  
Village Green

1. POPULATION & HOUSEHOLDS
The population of the parish of Sedlescombe almost doubled in the fifty years between 1951 and 2001.
Census data

1951 758
1961 991
1971 1175
1981 1300
1991 1307
2001 1372
Sedlescombe's population increased steadily in the last 50 years of the 20th century

The number of households in Sedlescombe in the ten years between 1991 and 2001 increased from 517 to 647, giving an average of just over two people/household.

Age Groups

The age groups of households in the parish of Sedlescombe as recorded in 2001 census were as follows: 

Ages

Number of people

Percent

0-4

56

4.1

5-15

184

13.4

16-24

132

9.6

25-44

286

20.8

45-64

383

27.9

65+

331

24.1

 Total

1372

 

 From the above figures, it can be seen that nearly a quarter of Sedlescombe’s population was over retirement age in 2001.  Many are encouraged to move to Sedlescombe when newly-retired and still active because of small, attractive bungalows with pleasant surroundings.  However, if they continue to live here for 20 years after retirement, many will have become less able to move about and can become isolated in their homes. 

Reason for Increase

New houses were built in the following locations in Sedlescombe:East View Terrace - Eaton Walk - Gammons Way - Gorselands - Gregory Walk - Orchard Way - Park Shaw - Roselands - Streetlands
Park Shaw towards Pestalozzi International Village

2. CHANGES IN AVAILABLE SERVICES
Food
In the first ten years or so of the 1951-2001 period, most people bought their groceries in the Village.  There were two general grocery stores, a bakery with baker’s shop, and a butcher’s shop.  For several years, the grocery stores undertook deliveries in and around the parish.  Over the years there have also been deliveries of milk, bread and fish available.  Milk is still being delivered.  One store was converted to a house and the other is used as a beauty salon. The demise of the grocery stores can be attributed to a large extent to the growth of supermarkets together with the increase in car ownership giving people a wide choice of goods at reasonable prices.  Tesco Stores was built in Hollington, later followed by Sainsburys just 3 miles from the Village and the small shops could not compete. There have been tea shops in the Village at the Tithe Barn (now Kester House), Bulmer House, Powdermills and Forge House which are all closed.  The Holmes House Restaurant was popular for many years but has now closed.  The Clockhouse Bistro was popular for ten years.  Meals are still available at The Brickwall Hotel (accommodation also) and the Queen’s Head.

Petrol stations

Bridge Garage Antiques

 

 

 

 

There were three petrol stations in Sedlescombe and they have gradually disappeared.  First to go was the one on the A21 replaced by Blackbrooks Garden Centre.  Then followed Sedlescombe Service Station replaced by Eaton Walk housing estate and in 2000 the Bridge Garage closed, although car sales, car repair and spraying businesses continue.   The Bridge Garage showroom is now used for sale of antiques and collectables.

School
Up to 1980, the primary school was at the bottom of Church Hill.  There was no school hall and no inside toilets.  After a campaign by parents, a new school was built in Brede Lane with all modern facilities and, in 1980, the school was opened with 80 on the school roll.  Within twenty years the school roll increased dramatically and in the early years of the twenty-first century reached 160.  The last years of the twentieth century saw a change in where children attending the school lived.  Around 1950, almost all would have lived in the Village but, with the increase in cars and a change in government policy, children began to attend who lived in other villages and nearby towns.   Some children who live in Sedlescombe attend nearby private schools such as Vinehall and Claremont.

Industry and other employment
Charcoal burning was one of Sedlescombe’s oldest industries and, until the latter part of the 20th century, it was still being produced at the edge of the parish in Marley Lane.   However, expansion would have required the construction of a high chimney, which was unlikely to have been approved and, consequently, charcoal production ceased.  Charcoal, however, continued to form the basis of the Swift-Lite Charcoal business on the same site making compressed charcoal tablets and, on the other side of the road, Amtrak opened their distribution depot for their big delivery company.

Breakdown of industries in Sedlescombe,
2001 census
 
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 4.3%
Energy and water, Extractive industries 0.5%
Manufacturing 10.9%
Construction 11.9%
Wholesale/retail distribution, repair of motor vehicles 16%
Hotels and catering 6.4%
Transport, storage and communication 3.9%
Financial and business services 14.8%
Public admin, education and health 27.2%
Other 4.1%

The growth in all manner of small businesses soon became evident with more than fifty identified at the beginning of the twenty first century.   

Farming
The availability of manual work had decreased dramatically by the end of the century with only 4.3% of Sedlescombe’s population employed in agriculture.  Hop gardens and fruit-growing had been important in the parish at this  period.  These activities provided part-time seasonal employment especially for women.  All have disappeared.  There were several milking herds on farms around the Village which have all gone.  Farmland has been divided into smaller units and some has been purchased by hobby farmers.  Horses have been popular from time to time although the lack of bridleways restricts where they can be ridden.  Several farmers now keep sheep.  Some farm buildings have been converted to dwellings or holiday homes in order that they are retained. 

High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
In the 1980s, the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was designated.  Sedlescombe is within this area and any development is carefully controlled. 

Conservation Area
In the early years of the twenty-first century (2004), Rother District Council designated a Conservation Area in the centre of Sedlescombe giving additional protection to this area. 

Pestalozzi Children’s Village
The Pestalozzi Children’s Village flourished during the period with children being brought from countries such as India, Nepal and Thailand to live with houseparents in national houses for about ten years.  They attended local schools, going on to college and university before some returned to home to help their own people. 

In 1997, Pestalozzi changed its work to focus on students aged 16-19 years. The unique two year scholarship programme in the UK offers academically bright, but economically disadvantaged students from developing countries the chance to develop their potential using the Pestalozzi principles of educating the head, heart and hands. The estate is used to generate income to support the charity through uses such as educational and agricultural workshops and activities.

Village Hall
The old village hall was built in 1921 and, by the end of the twentieth century, was not big enough to cope with the growing Village population.  It also had the disadvantage of no parking area.  The new village hall replaced the old one in 2001.  It provides a large modern hall with stage and two smaller rooms, a modern kitchen and plenty of parking.  The area at the rear of the hall is being managed as an informal nature reserve. 

Sports
People can play cricket, football and tennis in Sedlescombe and both the Sportsfield (1985) and the tennis courts (1955) were provided during the period.  Since the new hall was opened, it has been used for badminton sessions on a Tuesday evening.

Village clubs and organisations
Throughout the period the Village has been well served by clubs and organisations.    However, by the end of the century, although youngsters were welcome to join, most clubs and organisations were attended by the older generation. 

Updated October 2011

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