Joe Mitchell - Cuckfield's first Mayor

By Kate Fleming

Joe Mitchell was elected the first Mayor of the Independent State of Cuckfield in 1966. He set the mayoral standards for this amazing local charity and subsequent mayors, of which there have been forty seven. This charity continues to thrive because of the likes of Joe Mitchell. Mayors were, and still are, elected in a totally unfair, eccentric, penny orientated election which is proud to raise important funds for Cuckfield organisations and charities. This year £20,000 has been distributed.

Joe Mitchell provided a valuable template for the Independent State of Cuckfield Mayors. He continued to support the charity throughout his life. The bell ringing character in a smock that he invented still leads the procession through the village on election weekend.

He was a great mechanic and worked for the Fire Brigade mending the fire engines for many years, but took over the White Hart Public House with his wife Olive in 1962. It was, therefore, as a publican not a sinner that he stood for election. He is remembered with great affection as landlord of the White Hart, presiding over a ‘proper’ pub in ‘the good old days’ when ‘men were men and women were women’, and it appears publicans were real publicans. The first of the modern day Sports Bars devoted to football, cricket, darts and all aspects of male dominated sport. The walls smothered in photographs of teams and racing scenes but without the overwhelming massive television screens of today all playing at full volume. Only occasionally football matches were watched by ‘the chosen few’ in the back room on an insignificant black and white snowy television screen.

Read the full story in the Feb/Mar issue of Cuckfield Life on page 20.