Southwick’s greats feature in exhibition

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DID you know the man who invented the division sign in maths came from Southwick?

John Pell, son of a 17th-century curate, is just one of the notable people from the town celebrated in a new exhibition at Manor Cottage Heritage Centre.

Southwick Personalities opens the new season at the Southwick Street heritage centre, telling the story of people born in the town and those who have lived and worked there.

Nigel Divers, secretary of the Southwick Society, which runs the centre, said: “The range of characters and their achievements is huge.”

Mr Pell was not only a notable mathematician, but a diplomat and Cromwell’s ambassador to the Swiss cantons.

Also featured is Clara Butt, who became a world-famous contralto singer in the first part of the 20th century.

“She was the first person to sing Land of Hope and Glory, now so famous at the Last Night of the Proms,” said 
Mr Divers.

John Reith, a Scottish soldier and engineer, came to Southwick in 1918 to build the Mystery Towers for the Navy. He married a local girl, Muriel Odhams, who was his driver, and later became famous as the first director general of the BBC.

Film links come from George Albert Smith, a showman at the end of the 19th century.

“He pioneered film-making, inventing techniques still used today and in a laboratory in Roman Crescent made some of the very first colour films before the first world war,” explained Mr Divers.

The new exhibition runs on Saturdays until July 6, open from 10.30am-12.30pm, with extended opening to 4pm on June 8 and 15.

Visitors to the cottage will also be able to see two new attractions, which will run throughout the season.

In the recreated wartime kitchen, they will find the atmosphere of the 1940s in a room furnished in period style with kitchen utensils and equipment, washing drying by the copper, dinner being prepared at the table, a radio in the background and in case of air raid, a steel helmet and gas mask hanging on the hook.

“It is just as if the occupiers have just stepped outside for a moment,” said Mr Divers.

Upstairs, visitors will find the schoolroom showing the history of Southwick schools from the 1840s with pictures, desks and other paraphernalia, bringing back the atmosphere of schooling in earlier years.

Entry is free, but donations are welcomed.