Welcome to Clive Bennett’s web site

    1939                  1952                 1962

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 2000                   2011                    2019

I was born in 1934 in the small village of Barley - recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book - a long established north Hertfordshire farming community set on a hillside at the edge of the East Anglian Heights. My father and grandfather were gardeners and one of my great grandfathers a shepherd, but records show most of my fathers family had worked on the land in that area for at least 250 years.  My mother’s family however were originally from Shoreditch but had moved to Hertford early in the 19th century where they owned a harness and saddle making business. Her father was educated at Christ Hospital and then served in India with the army.

Village life had changed little for a hundred years, there was a small shop, a Post Office, a blacksmith - where I used to go after school and pump the bellows while he was shoeing horses - a wheelwright and five pubs. Home was basic with two rooms downstairs and three bedrooms upstairs with the primitive toilet at the rear in an outhouse. There was electricity for light but not for power so hot meals were prepared using a coal fired kitchen range in the main room with a kettle for boiling water. There was no running water instead it was collected in a bucket from a stand pipe in the road that served eight houses.

Family life simple. No telephone, no television, so music was an important part of everyday activities. My mother played the piano and my father not only played the violin but also sang in the choir at the local chapel where my paternal grandmother was the organist. Evenings and weekends were often spent round the piano singing popular songs of the period.

These inconveniences and war time rationing of food were off set by living in the country as we had a large garden to grow all the vegetables needed and space to keep chickens for eggs and an occasional roast. During, and for some years after the war, rationing meant not just minimum allocation of meat each week but also few luxuries such as sweets. A single Mars Bar, if you could get one, would be cut into five or six thin slices with one slice a day given as a treat. Fortunately my grandmother had a large orchard and apart from learning to climb trees I also ate a lot of fruit, particularly apples.

The National Health Service was not introduced until 1947 so you had to pay to see the doctor and the cost varied according to individual financial ability. Payment could be cash or goods and I remember my father going to see the doctor with six eggs as payment

I have many memories from the war period starting with hearing Neville Chamberlain’s radio broadcast saying ‘we are now at war with Germany’.  A number of airfields, notably Duxford, were close and decoy lights were installed in local fields so we were bombed several times and for safety I slept on the floor UNDER my bed and my father like all local men joined the ‘Dad’s Army’ Home Guard. At night we could stand looking south towards London some 35 miles away and see the flickering red glow in the sky as the Eastend and docks were bombed and burned.

Gardening was not an essential trade so my father was drafted to work on a local farm for 6 years and I remember, when I was about 11 years old joining him after school and leading a team of horses to and fro across a field as he trudged behind guiding a heavy plough.

We had a basic bus service into the Royston, nearest town some 3½ miles away, three times a day on Wednesdays [market day] and Saturdays, at other times the choice was simple - cycle or walk.

During the sever winter of 1947 the village was completely cut off by snowdrifts and all the men gathered each day to dig out and clear the road to Royston which took almost a week to complete.

My education started at the village school a week before the outbreak of war but with my mother’s prompting my parents somehow found enough money to broaden that and send me to King Alfred School - www.kingalfred.org.uk - [based in Royston] for four years : 1942-46 where my desire to travel the world developed, then at  the end of the war and following success in the 11 plus on to Letchworth Grammar School [1946-50] followed by Cambridge Art School [now the Anglia Ruskin University].  Moving to Sussex in 1952 I then spent two years National Service in the Royal Air Force stationed in the Suez Canal zone of Egypt.

A keen footballer in my younger days, I made my debut in senior football in 1949 at the age of 14 playing in a league match for Barley village team, having been captain of the boys side for the previous two years. After moving to Sussex I played first for Ferring and then Worthing NALGO.  When not playing I was an avid supporter of Tottenham Hotspur but have now, for over 40 years, been a season ticket holder at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Virtually all of my working life was spent with the South Eastern Electricity Board first in Worthing [1955-64], then Folkestone [1964-68] back to Worthing [1968-70] as a member of the newly created Computer Section and finally moving to Hove in 1970  where, for much of the next 22 years, I was employed as a Contracts and Procurement Officer. In 1977 I was admitted to the now Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply [MCIPS] and in 1992 gained a Bachelor of Arts Degree [BA] in Social Science from the Open University.

An active trade unionist I spent many years as a NALGO, and its successor UNISON, Branch Officer and was the South Eastern Electricity Branch Chairperson from 1985 until my retirement in 1993 and Branch President from 1994 until 2007

From my early teens I developed an appreciation of classical music and in my 20’s a love of traditional jazz and country blues. This led. during the skiffle era of the late 50's and early 60's to an interest in folk music and I bought my first guitar in 1958   I was co-founder of Brighton's first Ballads and Blues Club in 1961 and similar clubs in Worthing 1962 and Shoreham by Sea in 1963  During the mid 60's whilst working in Kent I founded Folkestone's first folk song club and then the acclaimed Pilgrims Way Folk Club in Canterbury. After returning to Sussex in 1967 I was involved with running a number of folk song clubs in Worthing, Brighton, Eastbourne [Merrie England] and more recently Seaford. In 1965 I was a founder member of the British Federation of Folk Clubs and served on its National Executive for 10 years including Vice Chair 1967-70 and Chairperson 1971-75  I served on the English Folk Dance and Song Society's National Executive from 1973 to 1979 and as a member of the Production Committee that organised the Folk Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in 1975, 76 and 77 I also served on both Sussex [1963/4 and 1969/73] and Kent [1965/6] District Committees of the Society. From 1966 until 1969 I was the first Song Director at Broadstairs Folk Show, returning in the same capacity to Broadstairs Folk Festival for two years in 1976 and 77  In 1974 I was a founder member of Merrie England Mummers a Ritual Drama group and was bagman [Secretary/Treasurer] for 36 years until the group ceased performing in 2011

In March 2000 "HAT RECORDS" released "The Roving Journeyman" : HAT CD 021  featuring me singing and talking about 24 of my favourite traditional folk songs then, in 2002, Country Books published "Sussex Folk" a book written by me covering the evolution of folk song clubs in and around Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne and Lewes from 1961 to 2001 with over 200 illustrations and   foreword by the acclaimed folk singer Shirley Collins  [For further details on contents and availability follow the Navigation Bar Link : Folk Music or http://www.hatmusic.co.uk

My Hobbies, in addition to music and particularly folk song and ritual drama [Mumming] already mentioned, are a life long fascination with world travel, photography, philately and sport, particularly lawn bowling where I joined Hangleton, my local club in 1998 There I served two years as Captain [2004-5], seven years as Secretary [2006-8; 2014 and 2017-19] and three years as President [2018-20] while also enjoying a highly successful career playing over 2,160 games and reaching 29 competition finals, 19 of which were won, www.hangletonbowls.co.uk  including a record seven times Two Wood Champion. In addition to my club activities I served three years as President [2007-09] and six years as Secretary [2003-08] of the Brighton, Hove and District Bowling League. www.brightonandhoveleague.co.uk In May 2008 I made my County debut playing for Sussex against Surrey followed by a game against Berkshire in 2009 and another against Surrey in June 2010 when I was awarded my County Badge. From 2011 to 2018 I played for Sussex every season and have now made 25 appearances for the County. In 2009 I was elected Assistant Secretary of Sussex County Bowling Association in addition to being a Divisional Controller of the County’s Vice Presidents [2007 to 2015] and County Selector [1916-20]. At the end of 2016, on my retirement from the post of Assistant Secretary, I was Awarded Honorary Member of Sussex County Bowls.

In 1992 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes but have controlled that with diet and tablets for 28 years then at the end of 2010, on medical advice, I had a quadruple coronary by-pass at Brighton Cardiac Unit from which I made a full recovery.

PHOTO ALBUM 1942 - 2019 :

Barley, Hertfordshire 1942,       Royal Air Force, Manchester 1952,   R.A.F. 107 MU Kasfareet, Egypt 1954,   Football, Worthing 1958 &    At home - Sussex 1962

‘The Beachcombers’ - Horsham folk festival 1962,        Worthing Folk Club 1973,                  Hove, Sussex 1983                            &   OU Degree Ceremony 1992

  President: UNISON SE Electricity 1994-2007,     Folk Club, Seaford 2000,    President: Brighton, Hove Bowling League 2007,    with his ‘mate’ the late EP Atticus Kanati 2012  
                                     . .                              . .

[1] Club Captain 2004 & 2005    [2] Awarded County Badge 2010     [3] Club President 2018
[4] Triple Champion 2014 : Singles Championship; 2 wood Championship & Handicap winner

[5]                                                              [6]                                                          [7].  .     [8]  

Club Competitions:  [5] George Dew Singles Champion 2012 & 2014             [6] Viv Hibberd '2 wood' Champion 2005; 2009; 2010, 2014, 2015, 2017 & 2019
[7] Gosling Memorial 'Fixed Jack' Cup Winner  2004; 2010,  2012, 2017  & 2018  [8]  Challenge Cup Handicap  Winner  2014

                                                                        2018 Playing for Sussex

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