OUR FEATURED MEMBER – GRAHAM ALLEN
Thanks to Pat Graysmark for putting together this ‘life story’. Our subject this time is Graham Allen.
If, as I am sure that you have all seen John Constable’s Hay Wain, then you would appreciate my great feeling of disbelief that, as I drove up to Graham and Sheila Allen’s home that there is another place as pretty and welcoming as the great artist’s painting. Long Road leading to 15th century cottage, large duck pond being used by coots, geese, ducks and many other birds just dropping in. Not forgetting different species of fish in the pond, then surrounded by farm land.
As I started this interview I felt that Graham had an overwhelming passion for his job of old, his beautiful cottage, and restoration of vintage and classic cars.
He was born in 1938 in Horsham. Lived there for four years, moved to Bournemouth, where his mother ran a guest house. While there his father contracted TB and passed away when Graham was 5. Moving back to Horsham 4 years later and passing his 11+ went on to Collyer’s Grammar School. Applied to become a police cadet – was accepted but advised to stay at school and take 0 levels.
ITV was just starting and Graham started work as an aerial fitter as fill in job and finally joined police cadets in 1956. Working as a cadet in Littlehampton in 1957, he became a constable and attended a 10 week training course in Folkestone. There after based at Horsham, then on to Littlehampton and transferred straight away to Rustington.
In-between all the toing and froing, Graham met Sheila and got married on a day off and was due back at work the next day. His Sergeant said he could start work 3 hours late as he had just got married. That was in 1961 at Horsham Registry Office for the grand sum of 71’p. Graham was 23, Sheila was 24.
Even though the police took up a lot of his time, Graham managed to give some of his time to sport including cross country running , swimming and tennis, all for the police and football for Horsham Trinity.
Showing his aptitude and ability was offered a choice of traffic, CID or village bobby – CID was for Graham. Moved to Worthing in 1963, to Crawley in 1967 and served on Regional Crime Squad for 3 years. Graham served on CID at Petworth from 1971 to his retirement in 1986.
From 1971 – 1974 they lived in Police house in Petworth, hoping that police insurance was going to pay for their dream house when Graham retired. Reality kicked in and in Sheila?s words “we could just afford the chimney”. Those of you who know Sheila and Graham; doom and gloom do not exist and the opportunity of their present abode became available through the estate that Sheila worked for. This now beautiful cottage was in need of tlc, but with hard graft is near authentic as the 15th century it was built in, still retaining 15th century oak beams. One small area is kept of original lath plaster with oak slats and horse hair.
One word of warning when visiting, alcohol is normally involved. When going to toilet, up the top of the stairs there is an 8″ fall in the floor from stairs to the toilet. If inebriated, you will end up in spare bedroom.
Graham’s first car was a 1928 Morris, nothing to do with his passion for restoring vintage cars, at the time it was cheap to buy, cheap to run. Vintage Cars: Graham has restored four Austin 7’s, one Lanchester which he kept and drove for 40 years. Graham collects old bicycle and car lamps, even had a farm wagon which he restored to its former glory.
Sheila and Graham have one daughter, Susan, and 2 grandchildren.
Graham’s bowling career started by joining the Police team at Worthing from 1963 to 1967 then moved to Petworth in 1971 where he remained until joining Graffham BC in 2010.
30 years in the police, restored 15th century cottage, restored vintage cars, collect old farm tools, lamps and many other things.
Graham, please slow down, you have worn me out. Great Interview. Thank you.