It used to be like this by George R Haynes – this is a new, expanded, edition which now includes more than 40 additional photographs of Niton in the last century.
George Roland Haynes was born in 1906 in Castle Haven, Niton Undercliff, and in old age he wrote down his memories of life there when he was young, saying: Already the lifestyle of my childhood is beyond the grasp of the young people of today. I have written all that I thought should be recorded before it is completely forgotten, about things that are now totally gone.
He depicts a community where most employment came from the big houses of the Undercliff, and describes in detail the craft and skills involved in fishing and farming – almost unchanged since the 1800s. With quiet good humour he remembers the ordinary events as well as the excitements: home life with the weekly drudgery of washday, a childhood spent roaming the Undercliff, the stories of shipwrecks off that dangerous coast, along with the efforts to save lives – St Catherine’s lighthouse, the coastguard teams, and the lifeboat crews.