Family’s delight as blue plaque to commemorate great great grandfather unveiled in Haywards Heath

A blue plaque to celebrate the life of railway contractor Joseph Flesher was unveiled in Haywards Heath on Wednesday (January 2).

Councillor Sandy Ellis and members of Mr Flesher’s family unveiled the plaque on the Natwest building at Muster Green.

The unveiling was attended by great granddaughter Gwynneth Busfield, his great great granddaughter Susan Parsons and his great great grandson Keith Busfield. Picture: Haywards Heath Town Council

The unveiling was attended by great granddaughter Gwynneth Busfield, his great great granddaughter Susan Parsons and his great great grandson Keith Busfield. Picture: Haywards Heath Town Council

Mr Flesher (1809-1856) was the railway contractor responsible for the area’s section of the London and Brighton Railway in 1841, playing a pivotal role in the construction of the Folly Hill Railway Tunnel, and was one of the first citizens of Haywards Heath, whose house – Clevelands – occupied the grounds on the site over the tunnel.

The NatWest building was chosen for the plaque as it now occupies the land that was the former home and grounds of Clevelands and is located by the Folly Hill Tunnel where Mr Flesher was an engineer.

Cllr Sandy Ellis said: “It was inspiring to help with this project on behalf of Mr Flesher’s relatives at the NatWest building close to the Folly Hill Tunnel.

“Haywards Heath Town Council endorsed the adoption of blue plaques to show its support for commemorating buildings, famous people or events that have contributed to the history and heritage of this town.

The blue plaque was unveiled in Haywards Heath on Wednesday (January 2). Picture: Haywards Heath Town Council

The blue plaque was unveiled in Haywards Heath on Wednesday (January 2). Picture: Haywards Heath Town Council

“This iconic landmark is seen daily by thousands of passengers who travel on the London to Brighton line and it is an honour to be able to leave such a wonderful tribute to a local resident and an outstanding engineer of his day.

“The Haywards Heath Historical Society and Cuckfield Museum have also given their support and shared local knowledge which has helped with the installation of this Blue Plaque and it has been generously financed by local ward councillors and NatWest bank.

“Mr Fisher’s relatives are delighted that town councillors and Natwest are recognising the great achievements of their great great grandfather in the form of a blue plaque.”

Gwynneth Busfield, great granddaughter of Mr Flesher, added: “I am so pleased that Joseph’s life has been commemorated by this plaque. Without the coming of the railway to Haywards Heath, we wouldn’t be here today! Thank you so much to everyone for helping with the research and making this happen.”

Blue plaques memorialise the connection between the building or location and a famous person or event.

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