A village history in West Sussex


Westbourne History Group

Bygone Series

No1. Trades People 1845-1938

No2. Village Schools 1819-1984

No4. Westbourne Then & Now

No5. Westbourne Union Life

No6. Westbourne Church Guide

No7. Cleaning up Westbourne        

No8. Westbourne Worthies

No9. The Bastards of  Westbourne

No10. Westbourne’s War 1939-1945

No11. A Millenium in Tandem

No12. Sindles Farm

No13. Westbourne Memorials

No14. Cottage Economy

No15. The Village Schools 1810-2011

No16. Westbourne and the Great War

No17. Tradespeople of Westbourne

Bourne in the Past

Other Publications

Sindles Farm

The River Ems

The Westbourne Story

Any Comments?

Numbers 1 to 5 inclusive out of print, further information on details and costs visit:


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Call them what you will, rivers, streams, brooks, beks or bournes, they are the very life-lines of nature, rippling with energy, bubbling with interest, self-willed and capricious in their determination to get somewhere and often evincing an evasive rascality. Each one is a poem of nature to those who have the time and sensitivity to appreciate the Book of Nature. To Shakespeare’s Duke banished from the pleasures of his rightful court to the Arden Forest, untouched and unspoilt, nature has its treasures to offer as compensation for the loss of material possessions; “and this our life exempt from public haunts finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything.” It is my pleasure and I hope yours too, to open one of the books in the running brooks and explore its treasures.

Our Brook, the River Ems, wending its irregular way down the Ems Valley adds to the delight of countryside and village and flows with all the cadences of music from allegro to largo and alas, at times, tacet. It has a personality which as you study it impresses itself upon you. It is capricious, whimsical and evasive, doing its best to conceal its identity, its origins and, in places, its way down to the sea. Its whimsicality is such that up to 1940 if after a wet season a matchstick were dropped in at its source, after a journey of about six miles and a drop of about two-hundred feet, it could have made its entry into the sea at any one of five different places. Much too insignificant to appear in our atlases, yet within my lifetime it provided the motive power for three corn mills and two pumping-engines. Its past industrial potential will become apparent as the book progresses.

A study of the Ems compels right at the outset the question “which is the River Ems? An uncertainty raised at the very start. Local maps and official maps can be confusing and certainly local opinion varies. In the final analysis there must be one identifiable River Ems, but in a broader sense the name could be regarded as a comprehensive one to include all the related water courses. Which really is the River Ems will become self-evident as the story unfolds, so please read on.

Published 1984