Round About with Bill Grayson

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by Bill Grayson

I imagine many of you reading this have done web searches for "Chicksands" out of curiousity, as I have many times in the last few years. It is amazing how the available search engines (really "Wright Brothers’ Flyers" compared to what will be available in the near future) instantly turn up occurrences of "Chicksands" in articles, message-board postings, and even individual resumes of people, who served a USAF tour there and mention the base once. In 1998, when I was putting together the new last chapter of the history book, I found a link to the e-edition of the Daily Telegraph, which had a 1997 article about plans for the new UK DISC at Chicksands and, in the article, another link to a page in 1996 about the DISC’s training mission. This happy little find started me on a daily habit of reading what always had been my favourite UK paper.

The e-Telegraph’s archives are searchable, using a box at the bottom of the first page, and my daily lunchtime habit grew to include Monday searches for "Chicksands" to see if I might have missed anything on the weekend. Sorry to report only one hit in August 1999 (about library resources) and then nothing. Nothing, that is, till my 2-fingered typing obviously but mistakenly dropped the last "s," resulting in a search for "Chicksand." Now serious students of Chix history (meaning those who have read the history book) know that, over the centuries including very recent times, the old estate and MOD base have often been rendered as "Chicksand" in the singular.

So my errant fat-fingering asked the e-Telegraph to search its archives for "Chicksands" without the ‘s’ and up popped an April 1999 article about an incident on Chicksand Street in London. The incident had nothing to do with the base but the street name couldn’t possibly have any other connection. Could it? When I located Chicksand Street on a London map, found that it intersects Commercial Road, where my Grandfather worked in the 1880s.

So – searching for Chicksand-the-singular on, which tasks ten other search engines, revealed that there is a "Chicksand House" on Chicksand Street. The house has been included in walking tours of the surrounding area.



Then, there is – in the East End – a Chicksand Estate which sounds like a neighbourhood. There was recently a Young People’s Photo Project for children apparently living on the estate.

Also found a link to Chapter 20 of the book, Dracula, by Bram Stoker:

      He remembered all about the incident of the boxes, and from a wonderful dog-eared notebook, which he produced from some mysterious receptacle about the seat of his trousers,and which had hieroglyphical entries in thick, half-obliterated pencil, he gave me the destinations of the boxes. There were, he said, six in the cartload, which he took from Carfax and left at 197 Chicksand Street.

And found one Stanley Chicksand, who has a business in London on Putney Bridge Road with a web address ( and a lady, who must be a relative: Lorna Chicksand on the Business School faculty at the University of Birmingham. Although full of curiosity, I haven’t molested the privacy of either. Interesting that a Yahoo (UK) White Pages search for that surname only turns up those 2.

Finally, the search for "Chicksand" led to the page of a fast-food chain that either deliberately or inadvertently uses the term as the short form of "chicken sandwich."

Congratulations to those of you who read all the way through to this point in pursuit of higher education! I shall now leave the continuation of this important research to others.

Cheers, Bill