Standing at the beginning of Beach Way, looking to the right down Brockhollands Road and beyond the stone walls we see a stone-built church. The inscribed tablet high above the door tells us that it was a Wesleyan Chapel in 1860. This is one of three non-conformist chapels in Bream that were built within nine years of each other. Currently this one is named Bream Victory Church.
Another is in Whitechapel Road, this time with a stone that reads “Mount Sion Primitive Methodist Chapel 1858”. Before moving here the congregation met at a house in “The Row” at Whitecroft. The chapel-goers were often nicknamed the “Prims” but sometimes the less respectful term “Ranters” was used. The adjoining Green (now built over) became known as Ranter’s Green.
Children were usually sent to Sunday School at the chapels. Once a year a Sunday school treat was arranged. This took place in the summer and usually saw several coaches of children and their parents travelling in convoy to Porthcawl or Barry Island. The Barry Island trips were of special interest to young boys as the coach park was next to an engine graveyard for retired steam engines. Another event on the calendar was the Anniversary Day when Sunday school children would sing and recite, watched by proud parents.
The third chapel, at the top of Whitecroft Road, had a reputation in later years for colourful Christmas pantomimes. It was built in 1851 as the Bible Christian Chapel. For many years the outside was lit up at night by a large red neon cross. During one service a loud bang and the sound of breaking glass interrupted the offertory. A bullet was found embedded in the wall behind the pulpit. The steward ran outside to confront the distressed gunman who had, it turned out, aimed his gun at a squirrel. These days private residents have moved in and the illuminated cross has gone. Bream Methodists now worship at the West Dean Centre.
Looking back along Beach Way, the first house on the left was formerly the Kings Head pub. Like many pubs in the Forest this one had a nickname – Dapper’s. The nickname refers to a former landlord, Dapper James. In Bream, the Rising Sun was once known as Aunt Annie’s. The long closed Two Swans was humorously know as the Double Ducks. The Double Ducks did not have beer pumps, a trip down the steps to the cellar was required for every pint. A busy evening was quite taxing and could make Jimmy Price, the final landlord, a little grumpy at times.
The Kings Head eventually became a private home but the residents had a surprise one day when a visiting pair of ex-Breamers walked un-announced into their front room thinking that it was still a public bar!.
Forest families also had nicknames to clarify which branch you were referring to. For example, the James family had branches with such nicknames as Tucker, Twister, Nubbins, Poony and Punch. Locals who might be talking about a particular member of the James family would then add “Im’s a Tucker James”
In the wall here, next to the Post Office gates, you’ll see the remains of a petrol pump in the wall. It remains from the time when the current Post Office building was a hardware store, run for many years by a Mr Stan Miles. The end part of the hardware store was used by the local Voluntary Fire Service during World War 2.