LITTLEHAMPTON historian and campaigner Jeannie Millington, who succeeded in saving a small but important Victorian building from demolition, has died, aged 71.
She continued a long family line of taking a keen interest in the town’s affairs and working to put right things she felt needed changing, or indeed, preserving.
That was the case in 2001, when Jeannie discovered an ostler’s room at Terminus Place, part of an old coaching inn. The ostler took charge of the horses when coaches arrived.
The disused building, at the rear of the Railway Club, in Terminus Road, was in poor condition, but Jeannie’s efforts paid off three years later, when a partnership of the Sussex Heritage Trust, Arun District Council, Littlehampton Town Council and the Lavinia Norfolk Family Charitable Trust funded repairs.
The renovation of what was thought to be one of few surviving ostler’s rooms in the country was not completed, and a couple of years later there was a new threat, from developers wanting to demolish the club and build flats on the site.
Jeannie renewed her campaign and the proposals were turned down. Revised plans were approved in 2011, however, and although a full restoration was not carried out, the shell of the ostler’s room was retained and it was converted to a bin store.
Her grandfather, Solomon ‘Tom’ Griffin, was a Littlehampton councillor, as was her aunt, Rosina ‘May’ Griffin. Both were great union supporters and champions of the working community.
Jeannie followed suit and, after retiring from teaching, volunteered in the Save the Children shop in Surrey Street, hosted talks as a local historian, or marched around town citing rubbish clearance and issues that needed to be addressed by the local councils, as well as raising these through the Gazette’s letters pages.
She grew up in Findon and then Worthing, the daughter of a policeman, and after leaving Worthing High School for Girls in 1959, at 16, was awarded a year’s scholarship to Parkland High School in Pennsylvania, USA. She lived with a member of the school board and his family for a year. The two families remain lifelong friends.
The year confirmed Jeannie’s’ passion and interest in social history and literature. She described her time there as ‘exhilarating, fun and magical’.
A year later, she was employed by an antiques firm and in 1965, met and married a Littlehampton man, Andrew Millington. They had a son, Rupert and a daughter, Ailsa. Jeannie interspersed her time as a mother with entrepreneurial pursuits, from writing to her own antiques firm and a party plan make-up venture.
Separated from Andrew, who has since died, and while living with her partner Jim Tanfield, she returned to her true passion, education, gaining a BA (Hons) degree in English and History from West Sussex Institute of Higher Education in 1992.
She worked for a fine arts company and then moved into teaching special needs adult students in Ferring, and English as an access course at Chichester College, Brinsbury campus.
She moved to River Road, Littlehampton in 1995, attracted by the sense of a ‘real working port and town’.
Jeannie leaves Rupert, Ailsa, and grandsons Oliver and Crispin.