Performance of a new score + screening of 1916 film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ – Hastings

20161108_110128.jpgHastings Sinfonia is proud to be part of Somme100 FILM, an international project bringing together 100 live orchestral performances of the IWM film The Battle of the Somme to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle.

The original restored 1916 film, by Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell, with our live performance of Laura Rossi’s new score, lasts approximately 74 minutes. It is not recommended for children under 12.

We are delighted that our performance will be introduced by two special guest speakers: Dr Toby Haggith from The Imperial War Museums, and the composer Laura Rossi.

For more information about the project go to

Venue and booking: St. Mary in the Castle, Hastings, England

Brighton WWI film showing – 2nd May

5 children and itYou are warmly invited to a special free film screening for primary school groups to explore the subject of WWI and Brighton’s local history.
Tuesday 2 May 2017
10am – 12.15pm
Space are limited, booking essential. Please contact to make a booking or for any enquiries. 
You are very welcome to stay for the film or head off once it starts. We aim to finish the whole event by 12.15pm.
Refreshments and popcorn will be provided free.
Presented as part of The Orange Lilies project
This event takes place at Fabrica art gallery, 40 Duke Street, Brighton, BN1 1AG

As part of The Orange Lilies – Brighton & Hove in the Somme project, we’ll be involving children and teachers of local primary school Middle Street Primary School in our explorations of the city during the Somme in 1916.

We’re inviting WWI historian Dr Chris Kempshall to speak to the pupils about this period of history in an engaging and lively way.
We’ll follow this with a film showing of the First World War linked Five Children and It, and make popcorn too!
When Britain entered the First World War it did not fully realise that the conflict would soon touch upon the lives of everyone; even children.
Dr Chris Kempshall will discuss how the people of East Sussex lived under the shadow of the First World War, and how local children became involved in the war effort.
The screening is for 32 x year 5 children and 3-4 teachers.
Thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund for helping with this event, and to Fabrica gallery for organising it on behalf of Strike a Light – Arts & Heritage.

Brighton & Hove in WWI – Free Event day: 30th June 2017

TOL logoThe Orange Lilies – Brighton & Hove in the Somme

Brighton & Hove in WWI –  Free Event Day

Free WWI Community history event marking the end of both The Orange Lilies project, and The Boys on the Plaque project marking the Somme centenary, and exploring Brighton & Hove in WWI.

 Venue: Jubilee Library, Brighton, 11am – 4pm – 30th June 2017 


Introductions by Nicola Benge, The Orange Lilies Project Manager and Clare Hankinson, The Boys on the Plaque Project Manager

Dr Frank Gray, Director of Screen Archive South East shows vintage film clips & discusses Brighton during WWI

Brighton & Hove in WWI Q & A session: chaired by Dr Sam Carroll + Speakers: Dr Chris Kempshall, Dr Alison Fell & Dr Frank Gray

Dr Alison Fell – First World War women workers and strikes

Dr Chris Kempshall of East Sussex in WWI – Talk on Brighton and The Battle of Boars Head

and speakers still TBC


Battle of Boar’s Head exhibition courtesy of Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove; WWI exhibitions and resources from Brighton & Hove Libraries, Gateways to the First World War, and The Royal British Legion.

Venue –Jubilee Library, Jubilee St, Brighton BN1 1GE

Queries to:

textiles workshop

The Orange Lilies project is delivered by Strike a Light – Arts & Heritage

In Partnership with Fabrica gallery, Brighton and Hove Libraries and Information Services, and Gateways to the First World War.

and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund



Issac Rayner – Portslade to Peronne


Issac Rayner in Portslade as a young man

The Orange Lilies project aims to highlight the city’s experience of living through The Somme. Through the project, we are gathering and contextualising material and information for city residents, school teachers, researchers and those interested in WWI.

It comprise interviews, newspaper reports & other printed items, photographs, objects and documents held at public libraries, museums and the The Keep archive. Part of the project entails finding relatives and family members with photos and memories of people from the city who served during the Somme, or lived in Brighton and Hove at the time of the batyle between 30th June 1916 and 18th November 1916.

June is a lovely Hove based lady in her early 90s involved with an older people’s group called Memories Past, who married into the Rayner family in the 1940s. Meeting June Rayner not so long ago, we got talking about her husband who was in Burma in World War II, and then his father a Portslade born man called Issac Rayner who served in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 with the Royal Sussex Regiment.

img_3799Issac was born in the 1890s and lived in 35 South Street, Portslade village, part of Brighton and Hove in a house that no longer exists. The photo (to the left and right), whilst not dated, was taken in Portland Road (the road joining Portslade to Hove) by H.W Tubb, a well known photographer at the time with an established business in the area.

Henry William Tubb’s home in Portland Road also served as his studio and business premises. Henry Tubb was keen to point out in his advertisements that his Portland Road Studio was located opposite Portslade Railway Station.

Henry Tubb set up a photographic studio in Portland Road, Hove, around 1899. Describing himself as an “Artist Photographer”, Henry Tubb took studio portraits at his Portland Road Studio, but he was also an “outdoor photographer”, offering to bring his camera along  to “Garden Parties, Wedding groups, etc., appointment”. Henry Tubb was also keen to advertise his expertise in making photographic enlargements.

Tubb’s advertisements proclaimed “Photographs in all Styles – Enlargements of all Description” and the publicity on the reverse of his cabinet and carte-de-visite portraits, under the heading “ENLARGEMENTS TO ALL STYLES”, assured his customers that “the negative of this photograph is preserved from which enlargements or further copies can always be obtained.”  To supplement his photography business, Henry Tubb also made picture frames at his Portland Road premises. (Taken from


An advertisement for H. W. Tubb’s Portland Road Studio which appeared in the Hove Gazette on 16th September 1899.


[ABOVE] The trade plate of photographer H. W. Tubb of Portland Road, Hove, taken from the reverse of a carte-de-visite portrait (c1900)

Issacissac-rayner-with-moustache-wwi (also known as Ike) joined up with the Royal Sussex Regiment at a date unknown during the Somme and became a machine  gunner in the trenches there.  He suffered inordinately in this time and was buried alive whilst tunnelling, being rescued by army colleagues digging him out. Once recovered from this ordeal, he was sent back to the front, where he was then gassed.

From the British Legion website ‘the Battle of the Somme also saw several different weapons being used including mines, poisonous gas and machine guns. Some of the larger machine guns needed 12 men to operate them. The best known innovation of 1916 was the tank, first used in battle at Flers on 15 September 1916. Armoured, tracked vehicles were designed to cross trenches, crush barbed wire and give direct fire support’.

Issac Rayner remained in the army until at least the end of 1919. We can’t be sure, but from the photos seen of him in colonial army wear, posed with other Royal Sussex Regimental soldiers also in shorts, and another portrait shot of Issac with a pith helmet, it seems possible that he was part of a Battalion transferred to India in 1917. Pith Helmets were widely used by the British Army in the Middle East, India and Africa to protect delicate British complexions from the fierce sun.


Issac Rayner

In this postcard sent home to his parents, dated 1st August 1919, Issac is pictured second row from the top, third from the left, clearly identified by his large moustache, something he hadn’t had before enlisting or later when he returned home.

The back of the card reads ‘To mother and Dad, from your affectionate and loving son. I.Rayner xxx Sent to Mrs Rayner, 35 South Street, Portslade, Sussex , England




Issac Rayner 1st Aug 1919

We don’t know anything further of his time with the Royal Sussex Regiment, only that he did survive the war and his injuries. Many soldiers who survived being gassed in the tranches died very young, so Ike was fortunate in this aspect.

6-crown-road-issac-raynerflorence-jane-packer-married-to-issac-rayner-6-crown-rd-garden-portsladeReturning to Portslade, Issac met and married Florence Jane Packer in the early 1920s who at the time lived at 6 Crown Road (see right), Portslade, pictured here in the back garden of the house at a date unknown.

It isn’t known if they knew each other before the war, however Florence was also from a local Portslade family and had grown up in the house in Crown Road along with her parents (see right – Great Grandad Packer) and siblings. florence-packers-father-issacs-fil

Returning to Portslade, Issac lived until 77,  dying at the home inherited by him and Florence from the Packer side of the family at Crown Road, Portslade on  14th November 1962.

Florence it is believed was a strict woman, who wasn’t given to smiling too often. She did lose two of her young nephews (Michael and Donald Packer) in WWII. Both sailors, as were many in the Packer family during the second world war. The two men were on separate naval ships which were torpedoed by German boats, so this may be connected. She died much before her husband Issac but it is unsure when.

Issac and Florence had two sons, Cyril born in 1922, followed by the younger son Dennis, who was born on 6th of September 1926, and a (possibly illegitimate) niece brought up as a daughter of the Rayner family, named Iris.

The photograph below was taken by Stacy Ward, a portrait photographer who took over the business and premises from HW Tubb (and premises moved to 39 Station Road) who earlier took Issac Rayner’s photo in the mid 1900s.


Iris Rayner, Keith her husband and baby Graham in 1942


Photo taken by Stacy Ward Portraits, Station Road, Portslade on 13th Sept 1942

The children all married local Portslade people. Issac and Florence lived in the house at Crown Road (near Fishersgate) until the 1960s.

Dennis was posted to India during World War II age only 19. Below is a snap of him as a private in Poona (now Pune) south of Mumbai, India.


Dennis Rayner in Poona, India age 19 in 1945


Dennis Rayner with friend in the 1940s


Back of photo of Dennis in India

June met and married Dennis Rayner (Issac’s younger son) in the 1940s and they had four sons who all still live in the area. Here she is as a young girl with toy pram, and later, aged around 15 in a portrait photographic shot around the time of meeting Dennis Rayner.



June and Dennis were married a long time until Dennis sadly passed away.


Here you can see Dennis with two friends at his retirement party in 1991.


Alice Bamber – Munitionette

We were pleased to meet with local Brighton resident Mary Funnell recently through The Orange Lilies – Brighton & Hove in the Somme project, and through her discovered a treasure trove of Brighton and Hove in WWI memories.

Mary’s paternal family had the surname Bamber and moved to first Portslade and then Brighton in around 1905 from London, when Alice Bamber (Mary’s paternal aunt) was five.

Mary remembers many of this side of her family and knew them well, many of them living to a ripe old age in the 1980s and 1990s, with Mary’s father being the youngest of the Bamber children.

Alice Bamber was born in 1900 in Clapton (Hackney), London to William Eccleston Bamber and Emma Bamber (nee Robinson).


william-bamber-photoWhen the family moved to Brighton to be closer to other members of the family, Mary remembers that her grandmother Emma ran a little shop on the Elm Grove and the family lived nearby. Two further Bamber children were born in Portslade in 1905 (Evelyn) and Ralph in Brighton in 1907 (Mary’s father).

William (Mary’s grandfather) worked as an orderly at the Royal Pavilion when it operated as a hospital for Indian Soldiers in 1915 and later on until the end of WWI, and used to take son Ralph Bamber as a small boy, who remembered meeting Indian men for the first time and talking to them.



The Bamber children attended Elm Grove School in Brighton. These school images were taken in 1910 and 1915.

From the private collection of Dennis Parrett

In 1916 when the Somme was starting, Alice Bamber turned 16, she found a job in one of the four munitions factories in the city (although we’re not certain which) and helped to support the war effort as a result. alice-bamber-munitions-uniformHere’s a photo of her at the time in her munitions uniform.

Although we don’t know which factory she was based in, the closest one at the time to Elm Grove where she lived, was the Light & Co Munition Works based at Circus Street, Brighton so perhaps she worked there.

There are no photos to be found of this factory, but what has materialised is a song written by ‘the girls’ who worked at the factory called ‘Never Mind’  (See left) and the song sheet sales were used to helped raise funds to support wounded British soldiers in local Brighton hospitals.

It is likely that the song was a re-working of a popular classic during the war called “Never Mind”. The munition girls may have been inspired by the original. Music hall resources say that the chorus was sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands”. It fits quite nicely!


Another related factory was an ‘aircraft factory’ on St. James’s Street where workers used to make the ‘dope’ as they called it to treat the fabric of the wings and body of planes.


Brighton Aircraft Factory in WWI: From the family collection of Dave Cresdee


It was a dangerous job in these factories albeit well paid, and better work with more freedom than working in domestic service, but many women worked with trinitrotoluene (TNT), and suffered prolonged exposure to the nitric acid that turned the women’s skin a yellow colour. The women whose skin was turned yellow were popularly called canary girls.

first-world-war-women.jpgMunitions workers handled highly flammable and explosive materials and, despite regulations banning matches and hair pins from factories, there were accidents. Like soldiers, factory workers wore tags, so that their bodies could be identified after an explosion.

Another local munitions factory Allen West was a big employer for young women too. Another young Brighton lady worked there:

“My mother, Amy Lee, who later became Amy Jones … had many jobs including being a cook at Divalls, Smiths in Lewes Road, a greengrocer in Lewes Road and Cooks the Jam Factory. When war broke out she went to Allen West to work on munitions and said that while she was there one of the floors collapsed. It was said that the weight of the munitions was too great.” 

Alice had 8 siblings. One sister – Evelyn May who was a school teacher in London but who was tragically killed during a bombing raid in London when the house he lived in suffered a direct hit in 1944.


Ralph, Mary’s father was too young to serve in WWI lived until 1993.

During WWII, Ralph drove buses in Brighton and on the day of the bombing on Rock Street and Chesham Place on 14th September 1940, he was driving a bus going along Eastern Road towards the gas containers, with a conductor on board and an empty bus.

Approaching Chesham Place one bomb dropped in front of the bus and another behind it somewhere.  Both he and the conductor were knocked out for a little while and came to uninjured.  They carried on driving to the terminus and back to Pool Valley, where they were reprimanded by the inspector for being a half hour late.


At one time he lived with Mary his daughter (Funnell born in 1953) and family on Springfield Road, Brighton from 1953 to 1964. Ralph used to go to the Springfield pub, was in the local darts team and played Old Father Time at New Year.

fedf86cb8e681ea4a4261a181ad2ecf56cded4ba_354_255Alice Bamber married in 1922 to George Woolf Jepson, a blind piano tuner. They lived for a long time in Brading Road, Brighton.

They went on to have a daughter (and possibly other children. Her daughter (Doris) Marie became a long serving midwife in the city.

Alice died in 1990, at the ripe old age of 90, living at the time in 14 Gordon Road, Brighton.


Her great niece Mary still lies in the city and has many happy memories of her family and the historyimage42 of Brighton & Hove. Mary was born in the workhouse, which later became Brighton General Hospital and educated in the Industrial School for waifs and strays, as it used to be known originally by the locals.

The official title for this was the Warren Farm Industrial School, Woodingdean, which was designed by the Brighton Board of Guardians as an industrial school for poor children whom it was not considered appropriate to keep in the workhouse with adults. This later changed its name to the Fitzherbert R.C. School in Woodingdean, (now the Nuffield hospital) in the early 1960s.


The Orange Lilies at Brighton event – 25th June

LITA Palace Pier.jpgOur new project The Orange Lilies will be taking part at Brighton’s Armed Forces Day this year on. It’s a free day and will see exhibitions, performance, music and drop in activities taking place at the Dome Studio and on New Road too.

Why not come along and say hello  and share your family history about Brighton and Hove in the Somme!

To find out more about this day, you can get in touch with the organiser

Images used with kind permission of the Letter in the Attic project from QueenSpark Books