12 January 2016

Hove Plaques Index W

Listed below:- Waterloo Street Arch, Charlie Webb, Admiral Sir George Westphal, James Williamson.

Waterloo Street Arch
Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton

Although the Old Market is situated on an island site between Lower Market Street and Upper Market Street, it was always listed in Directories under Waterloo Street.

The Market House was not a success as a market and was only in operation for a few years. It was soon put to use as a Riding Academy. When Alfred Dupont took over the premises, he decided to emphasize the connection to Waterloo Street by erecting a handsome arch. The structure is tall with a keystone and pediment and it is topped off with a segmental decoration while a large diamond shape embellished the pier on either side.

The arch was erected in 1877 and it became a Grade II listed building on 10 September 1971.

copyright © J.Middleton
Waterloo Arch, Waterloo Street

By 1980 Hove Council had plans to restore the arch to its former glory. But it was not such a simple matter because there was a temporary structure attached to it made of steel and asbestos and it was still in use. Howard and Sheila Kent ran their removal business from the premises and moreover they employed a dozen people. When they purchased the building in 1979 they had no idea Hove Council would develop an interest in it, or rather its adjacent arch. The Kents had spent some £20,000 on their building but Hove Council only offered them £15,000. Then there was a dispute about whether or not the couple actually did know about the council’s plans.

Eventually, by 1985 Hove Council owned the arch and the problematic building but had run out of money for restoration. Residents were horrified because the site rapidly became an eyesore and 150 people signed a petition calling for immediate action.

By February 1986, funding was in place and restoration work began. Local architect Christopher Dodd worked on the scheme and Dixon Hurst & Partners were appointed structural engineers. Contributions towards the cost of restoration came from English Heritage, Hove Council and a private trust – the Montpelier and Clifton Association.

The pathway underneath the arch was laid with York stone while the restored arch was painted in Regency Cream and floodlit at night. In June 1986 the Mayor of Hove, Edward Cruickshank-Robb, and his wife, the Mayoress, formally opened Waterloo Arch.

In recent years a delightful garden has been created on the west side of the arch, further enhancing the elegant ambience.

copyright © J.Middleton
Waterloo Arch Garden

Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014

Charlie Webb (1886-1973)
Judy Middleton (2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
Charlie Webb lived in this house 15 Frith Road. Somewhere under the foliage there is a plaque. 

Charlie Webb was a truly international figure because he was Scottish by ancestry, born in Ireland, but chose to put down roots in England, well Hove actually. The reason he was born in Ireland was because his father was serving in the Black Watch (as did his grandfather) and the family was based at The Curragh, near Dublin. But young Webb was brought up in Edinburgh. In 1904 he followed family tradition by joining the Army and history repeated itself in a small way because he too was despatched to the Emerald Isle, albeit with the Essex Regiment. When he was off-duty, he enjoyed playing football with local clubs and in 1908 he secured an Irish amateur cap. Later on he upset the Army authorities by playing football with a professional side. Realising he would not be able to square his love of football with the demands of duty, he chose to buy his release.

His long association with Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club is legendary. It spanned a period of 40 years (with an interval for the war) during which he was a player and then a manager. The club was also proud of the fact that while he was with them in the early days, he was chosen by Irish selectors to play against Scotland and Wales. Webb also became top scorer for Albion in the Southern League with 64 goals to his credit. Although he was a supremely fit athlete, he was as susceptible to injury as the next player and received a bad leg injury in 1914.

Webb rejoined the Army in the Great War, having had the pleasure of instructing his fellow players in the mysteries of rifle drill at the Goldstone Ground. Not that the keen souls were a danger to anyone because their rifles were nothing more than pieces of wood. As Webb had already seen Army service, he was commissioned into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps as a Second Lieutenant and was later promoted to Captain.

In March 1918 whilst serving in France, the Germans captured Captain Webb and he became a prisoner of war. He spent the closing months of the conflict in a camp at Mainz. But while still behind barbed wire, he was much cheered to receive a communication from Henry Miles, Albion Chairman, offering him the post of manager.

In June 1919 Webb returned to Hove and moved into 15 Frith Road, not far from the Goldstone, and became manager of Brighton & Hove Albion. He was a first-class manager, seeking out old favourites, while at the same time being a good judge of budding football talent and he secured new players for the team. He earned the admiration and respect of colleagues and players and retired in 1948. Webb also served as an officer in the Home Guard during the Second World War. This was similar to the experience of famous cricketer Sir Jack Hobbs who moved to Hove in 1946 and had also been in the Home Guard in the Second World War and served in the Royal Flying Corps in the Great War.

copyright © J.Middleton
Brighton & Hove Albion Football Team for 1919-1920, photographed by G.A. Wiles. Charlie Webb is the handsome
man in smart suit, white shirt and tie, standing in the middle of his players in the third row (and inset right) 

Charlie Webb died in 1973 aged 86. A slate plaque was placed at his house 15 Frith Road, Hove. The lettering ran ‘Charlie Webb 1886-1973 Player and Manager Brighton & Hove Albion for 40 years, Lived Here 1919-1973.’ It was sponsored by Brighton & Hove Albion Collectors’ and Historian’s Society.

copyright © J.Middleton
This nostalgic photograph of a typical crowd at the Goldstone was taken in 1922.
copyright © J.Middleton
In 1925 there was an impressive number of staff employed at the Goldstone. 
Behind the gentleman in the bowler hat and sporting a walrus moustache, stands the trainer Mr Nealms wearing a knitted waistcoat.

Carder, Tim & Harris, Roger Albion A-Z. A Who’s Who Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. (1997)     
Middleton, J A History of Hove (1979)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014

Admiral Sir George Augustus Westphal (1785-1875)
Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque – 2 Brunswick Square

The Westphal family originated from Germany and their forebears were the ancient Counts of Westphal. But George Augustus Westphal was born in Nova Scotia. He had a useful relative in his great-uncle who was also Preceptor to the Duke of Kent. The Duke became patrons of young Augustus and his brother Philip and thus ensured they had a good start on the career ladder. It is interesting to note both boys climbed to the top of the tree and finished their naval career as admirals.

Augustus was thirteen years old when he joined the Royal Navy. Seven years later when he was a midshipman he sailed aboard the frigate Amphion to the Mediterranean in the company of Lord Nelson. On arrival at their destination, Westphal transferred with his chief to HMS Victory.

It was at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805 that Westphal, was wounded and carried down to the cockpit where the mortally wounded Nelson had also been taken. Both the Dictionary of National Biography and the writer O’Byrne state Westphal was badly wounded. But Clarke and MacArthur’s Life of Nelson (1809) included a list of the wounded extracted from the Victory’s Log and Westphal’s name appears under the heading ‘Slightly Wounded’. It seems probable that Westphal suffered a flesh wound to the head that bled copiously, as head wounds tend to do.

While Westphal was lying in the cockpit awaiting the attention of the surgeon Mr Beatty, Nelson’s coat was thrust under his head to act as a pillow. There has been considerable interest in the precise identity of this garment; was it a boat cloak or Nelson’s undress uniform coat? The story handed down in Westphal’s family was that it was a cloak but the cloak that survives in Greenwich to this day (and incidentally it is a rare example of a boat cloak of that period) is undamaged whereas the garment put under Westphal’s head was cut. The reason being that the bullion fringe of the epaulette became, in Westphal’s own words, ‘so firmly glued, unto my hair, by the coagulated blood from my wound that the bullions, four or five of them, were cut off and left in my hair, one of which I still have in my possession.’ This piece of bullion became a treasured heirloom of the Westphal family and was exhibited at the Chelsea Royal Naval Exhibition in 1891, item 3343. Mrs A. Loftus-Tottenham lent the relic to the exhibition and she lived at 2 Brunswick Square in the same house for so long occupied by the Westphals. 

Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, donated Nelson’s coat from which the bullions had been cut to Greenwich Hospital (later the National Maritime Museum). The coat was also marked by a musket-shot hole in the shoulder. It is claimed that Westphal was able to authenticate the garment as belonging to Nelson.

When Westphal had recovered from his head wound, he spent two years serving aboard the sloop Demerara in the West Indies. His next adventure occurred when he was being invalided home aboard the merchant ship Highlander. This ship had a crew of 35 and it must have seemed a hopeless outlook when a French privateer with a crew of 140 attacked them. Westphal forgot about his illness and at once took command. The resistance of the Highlander’s crew was so spirited that the conflict lasted three hours before the French finally managed to board their ship. Westphal was badly injured and had the indignity of being placed in a hospital ship in Guadeloupe. But he soon managed to escape.

In 1809 Westphal became associated with Commodore Sir George Cockburn who wrote the following in his official report on events in North America.

‘Of Lieutenant George Augustus Westphal whose exemplary and gallant conduct it has been necessary for me to already notice in detailing to you the operations of the day, I shall now only add that from a thorough knowledge of his merits I always, on similar occasions expect much from him, but this day he even outstripped those expectations.’

During his service in America, Westphal commanded a successful boat expedition up the Elk River against French Town in 1813 and not long afterwards a similar expedition against Havre-le-Grace on the Susquehanna River. In the latter engagement he was shot through the hand.

In 1813 he was given command of the large American brig Anaconda, which he had captured and the following year he took part in an expedition against New Orleans.

In 1824 Westphal had a peaceful commission for once when he conveyed Lord Amherst to India aboard the Jupiter to take up the post of Governor General. On his return Westphal was given a knighthood. Sir Robert Peel pointed out waspishly the honour was not for taking Lord Amherst off to India, but for Westphal’s distinguished services.

In 1834 Westphal left active service and took up residence at 2 Brunswick Square, which he occupied for almost 40 years. He was one of the first Brunswick Square Commissioners and he was also a magistrate. He was twice married. His first wife was Alicia, whom he married on 8th January 1847. She was the widow of William Chambers and there were no children from his first marriage. His second wife was also a widow. She was Mary Ann and her late husband was Lieutenant Adenbroke Gore RN. In 1850 she gave birth to Westphal’s only child Mary Augusta while the doting father was 65 years old. But the Royal Navy had not forgotten about him and in 1851 he was promoted to Read Admiral, followed by becoming Vice Admiral in 1857 and finally a full Admiral in 1863.

The 1861 census recorded the Westphal family at home. He was by then aged 76 but was still a magistrate, his wife was 48 years old and their daughter Mary Augusta was eleven years old. The household included her governess, three female servants, one male servant, plus William Pollard, coachman, his wife, their son 15-year-old Edwin who assisted his father in his duties, two other sons and a daughter.

Westphal could never have expected his daughter to predecease him and it was a great tragedy for the family when she died in her 20th year on 20 April 1870. Mary Augusta was married to Stopford De Vere Beauclerk and they all lived at 2 Brunswick Square. It seems she must have died in childbirth because in the next census Westphal’s grandson was noted as living at the house.

copyright © J.Middleton
St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove.
The Westphals were a family accustomed to longevity. Augustus survived until his 90th year, which is remarkable considering his long period of active service and his injuries, while his brother Admiral Philip Westphal died at the age of 98. Admiral Sir George Augustus Westphal died on 12 January 1875 and he made it known that he wished for an unostentatious funeral; even so there were four mourning coaches and eleven carriages to follow the hearse. The carriages mostly belonged to residents of the square who wished to pay their respects while the first three coaches contained family members and the fourth was filled with servants. His coffin was laid to rest in a vault under the nave of St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove. His brother-in-law laid a wreath of laurels on his coffin while his son-in-law laid a wreath of snow-white camellias on Mary Augusta’s coffin assisted by Mrs Stubbs, an old and respected servant of the family.

There is a simple memorial stone to Westphal on the wall of the north aisle to ‘the last surviving officer of the glorious Battle of Trafalgar’. Outside, to the west of the church, stands a large memorial surmounted by a cross with inscriptions to Westphal, his second wife and their daughter. His widow Mary Ann, described as Victorian convention dictated, a ‘relict’, died on 3rd May 1881 aged 68. At the base of the monument there is a stone scroll bearing inscriptions to four members of the Tottenham family. There was a family connection and in 1891 Mrs A. Loftus-Tottenham lent the precious bullion from Nelson’s coat to an exhibition, as noted earlier in this article.

copyright © J.Middleton
Westphal’s Memorial, St Andrew’s churchyard, Hove.

Dictionary of National Biography
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Census Returns
Dale, Antony Fashionable Brighton (1947)
HMS Victory. Official Guide
Information from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Internet searches
Local newspapers of the time
Middleton, Judy A History of Hove (1979)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
James Williamson (1855-1933)
Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2017)

 copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque - Cambridge Grove

James Williamson was born on 8thNovember 1855 in Kirkaldy, Fife but he was brought up in Edinburgh. By 1868 he was to be found in London and in 1877 he moved to Kent. While he was in Kent he completed his apprenticeship to a pharmacist, married Betsy Heaysman and became the father of three children.

Move to Hove

In 1886 the family moved to Hove where four more children were born. Williamson purchased a chemist’s shop at 144 Church Road, Hove, and Hove Library has in its collection two photographs of how the window was dressed during his tenure. One of them shows three traditional carboys at the top of the east window above a sign stating ‘Every requisite for the Sick Room and Nursery’ while the west window contains a variety of objects plus the message ‘Every Kind of Photographic Work Done for Amateurs.’ In 1897 Williamson put frequent advertisements in the Hove Echo about the photographic services he provided and the camera on sale for a guinea (£1-1s).

 copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
J. Williamson Chemist, 144 Church Road, Hove

This shop has since been renumbered and is now 156 Church Road. Recently it was occupied by Leighton’s Opticians and is now the Eye Care Centre.

Williamson’s great interest was in photography and he delighted in doing his own developing, printing, enlarging, mounting and re-touching while he undertook much of his research at the back of his shop. He was also fascinated by X-rays (called Rontgen Rays in those days) and had his own equipment; he would happily X-ray patients with broken bones. He was also liked to give public demonstrations and in November 1897 took his equipment along to Hove Town Hall where Hove Camera Club was holding an exhibition. He and George Albert Smith were both members of Hove Camera Club. It seems likely that Williamson was the inspiration behind Smith’s early film entitled The X-Ray or The X-Ray Fiend.

 copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
James Williamson Hove film pioneer (1855-1933)
(photograph form The Royal Pavilion, Libraries and Museum Review October 2003)

Into Film-making

Williamson acquired his first film projector in 1896 and made his first films the following year. Such was the interest locally that a reporter from the Hove Echo interviewed him in 1897; the article appeared under the heading ‘Animated Photographs’. It was stated that Williamson had devoted considerable time and patience to this as well as giving ‘a good number of very interesting and amusing displays at various local …entertainments’. Williamson told the reporter films were cheaper to buy in 1897 than they had been in the previous year and it was possible to purchase a very good film for £2-10s whereas it cost £4 in 1896.

Some of Williamson’s most popular films were Ring-a-Ring of Roses and Fox and Geese, which featured his own children. Audiences enjoyed these films so much that they generally asked for it to be shown a second time.

Another hit was a film showing Hove Coastguards going through their cutlass drill. Williamson said ‘Many and many a night I have been working into the small hours of the morning developing the films.’ He explained to the reporter that each film was 75 feet in length and he found it most difficult to handle because he had been so used to developing a single photograph in a small dish. He also showed him a new machine he had recently purchased, which took ten photographs with each turn of the handle. However, the slight jerk between photographs was a problem that had not yet been resolved.

A Move to Western Road

In 1898 Williamson decided to devote all his energies to film production and moved from Church Road to larger premises at 55 Western Road (later re-numbered to 83). In 1898 he made 39 films and to take just one example – in July 1898 nine British films were produced of which eight were by James Williamson and one was by George Albert Smith. This fact demonstrated the unique and important place that Hove holds in the history of early film production. It is only in comparatively recent times that Hove’s claim to fame in this respect has been officially acknowledged. It is not without a touch of irony that in 1989 an exhibition was held in Hove Museum entitled From Hove to Hollywood.  It turned out to be the first milestone in the long road to recognition.

From 1902 to 1912 Williamson’s company produced an average of 50 films a year

Hove Town Hall as a Cinema

In those early days, there were no purpose-built cinemas in which to show films and consequently Hove Town Hall was a popular venue. In January 1900 Williamson wrote to Hove Council suggesting that wires should be installed and terminals fixed in the balcony of the Great Hall for the purpose of giving magic lantern shows. The Council agreed as long as the total cost did not exceed £6 and there was to be a charge of 3/6d each time there was a show.

Ivy Lodge as a Film Location

In 1900 Williamson made Attack on a China Mission. It was a topical theme because there was great interest in the Boxer rebellion in China. The location he used was Ivy Lodge, which had a large bay window and a graceful balustrade above. The Vallance family owned Ivy Lodge and Williamson hired it more than once. Ivy Lodge stood in its own grounds in the area now covered by Vallance Road and Vallance Gardens. The film was the first to show two storylines shown alternately. Williamson hired his old friends the Hove Coastguards who appeared as ‘Blue Jackets’ coming to the rescue of the hapless residents. They were filmed advancing four abreast whilst firing their guns at the same time. Another of Williamson’s films was Hove Coastguards at Flag Drill.

In 1901 Williamson produced Fire! He again utilised Ivy Lodge as a location. But this time the Hove Volunteer Fire Brigade filled the starring part. Williamson shows the fire engine emerging from the Fire Station in George Street, and the horses being harnessed. A later shot reveals a one-horse vehicle, followed by the fire engine pulled at dashing speed by two white horses. The firemen are ranged along the sides of the vehicle, their brass helmets gleaming, as the fire engine races south along St Aubyns. Then the scene switches to the burning house with a rescue being effected by a ladder and later an occupant throws himself from the first floor onto a jumping sheet. To add to the dramatic effect, the film was tinted red. There is a touching moment when a father sees his daughter rescued from the fire.

A Classic Chase

Also in 1901 Williamson was responsible for inventing that classic film device – the chase in more than one shot. In Williamson’s case it was three shots. But the film Stop Thief! started a trend that continues to this day. It was way ahead of American films of that date where the Edison Company were still showing films of more than one shot in a row of peep-hole machines and would continue to do so until around 1906.

Comic Films

Williamson made comedy films too. Amongst this number is The Big Swallow made in 1901 in which a close-up of a man’s mouth appears to swallow both camera and photographer. It is possible the film was made in the back of 55 Western Road. Other humorous sketches are Jealous Painter in which the hero pours whitewash over his rival; Eccentric Dances featuring Norah Mayer (the quick change dancer) and An Interesting Story in which a man is flattened by a steam-roller before being restored to normal size by being inflated by bicycle pumps.   


The Volunteer is a drama rather than a comedy. It features a soldier who in the opening shot is shown happy at home with his family in comfortable surroundings. Later on, he returns from war to find the baby is sick and the family practically destitute. He goes out to steal a loaf of bread from a Forfar’s baker’s van with ‘established in 1852’ on the side. The soldier’s desperate act is witnessed but when a policeman turns up at his home and sees the sad circumstances, he does not arrest him but gives him money instead.

In The Chorister an old man returns to his boyhood village and the film has the earliest known use of fading out at the end of scenes. It is also interesting to note that Williamson’s work also foreshadowed the little man in the bowler hat, some five years before Mr Sennett appears on the scene and ten years before the arrival of Charlie Chaplin.

In 1909 Williamson produced the film ‘The Boy and the Convict’. This 12 minute length silent drama film was a very condensed version of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. The scene with the boy at his Mother’s grave and his meeting with the escaped convict was filmed in St Helen’s Hangleton churchyard by the west wall.

Family as Extras

In 1903 Williamson made use of his family in his films again. In this case it was his sons Stuart and Tom. The title was Home for the Holidays and according to Butcher’s Catalogue it depicts the ‘pranks of the dear boys home from school’. It was rather expensive to buy because it cost £7.

Giving Private Film Shows

Williamson often appeared in his films and was responsible for the stories too. When he gave a show, he used some of his films, others made by Smith and yet others created by other people. Williamson also sold his films to distributing companies such as Butcher, Gaumont and Urban.

Quite often he would be asked to give a show in a private house as an after dinner entertainment. Such an invitation involved engaging two men to take the equipment, including projector, screen and gas cylinders, to the appropriate address beforehand. He would give the men enough money to enable them to hire a cab but as often as not they preferred to pocket the cash and borrow a hand-cart. One of the men was Stanley Mumford who went to work for Williamson in 1906 and later shot films at Shoreham.

Cambridge Grove

 copyright © J.Middleton
Williamson’s film studio was located 
in this house at Cambridge Grove.
In 1902 Williamson embarked on an ambitious plan to create a ‘Photographic Study Atelier’ plus cottage. W.B. Sheppard drew up the plans and Hove Council turned them down on 20 March 1902 but after minor adjustments passed them on 17 April the same year. The location was the north side of Cambridge Grove, off Wilbury Villas.
In 1904 Williamson made Our New Errand Boy in which he used Wilbury Villas and Lorna Road as locations and that were of course practically next door to his studio. The street name ‘Wilbury Villas, Hove’ is clearly seen in the background of one scene where an unsuspecting passer-by is covered with flour. In the scene featuring Lorna Road, Hodder’s Store at number 2 is clearly visible while a further scene provides a portrait of one of the water-carts used to water the streets in summer to keep down the dust; the water-cart has ‘Corporation of Hove’ in large letters on the back. The naughty errand boy alters the direction of the hose attached to the hydrant and the jet soaks the workman.

Selling the Chemist Shop

In around 1904 Williamson sold the chemist’s shop in Western Road to Sanders & Crowhurst who advertised it as being late Williamson’s & Co. They followed in Williamson’s tradition by describing themselves as photographic dealers and X-ray specialists.

The Problem of Sound

Also in 1904 Williamson produced his own camera, which enabled special effects to be created because it could go forwards or backwards. He also experimented with Vivaphone where he tried to synchronize phonograph recordings with his own films. The system was tried out at the Empire Picture Theatre in Hove but it proved to be too problematic and he did not develop it further

Expanding the Studio

Over the years Williamson submitted other plans relating to his film studio; in 1905 for a motor shed and scenery stores and in 1908 for an addition to the studio to be built against the railway bridge by Parsons & Sons. In 1910 Williamson sold the Cambridge Grove work to Charles Urban and George Albert Smith.

A Move to London

After the sale Williamson moved to London. He then called a halt to his film productions because the British Film Industry was going through a difficult time. In the USA a protectionist group led by Edison called the Motion Picture Patents Trust ensured that only films made by Trust members could be shown, which cut out all British films. This was a double whammy because British cinema managers found it cheaper to show American films than the more expensive British ones.

However, Williamson and his sons still thrived because they created a very successful business manufacturing film apparatus and developing film. Williamson died at his home in Richmond on 18 August 1933.

In May 1990 a plaque was unveiled at Cambridge Grove, which read ‘James Williamson 1855-1933 cinema pioneer worked in these premises.’

In 1996 there were celebrations to mark the centenary of cinema and on 3rd May 1996 Frank Gray, curator of the South East Film and Video Archive, unveiled a ‘Cinema 100’ plaque at 156 Church Road, which read ‘1896-1898 site of the First Film Studio and Laboratory created by James Williamson.’

 copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque - 156 Church Road
Early Film-makers of the South Coast booklet
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade  
Gray, Frank & Cushan, Ewan, Hove to Hollywood (ND)
Gray, Frank, editorThe Hove Pioneers and the Arrival of Cinema (1996)
Hove Echo (October 1897)
Internet searches

The early films of James Williamson can be viewed at Hove Museum where there are specialist rooms devoted to Hove’s early film-makers. As well as some of the films being played on a continuous loop, there is also a tiny cinema where longer ones can be viewed. The exhibition includes a display of old camera equipment.

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
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