Before you can make sense of this page [and its title] you will need to know that sometime in the early 1960's and immediately outside the main gates of HMS Ganges, an entrepreneur modified buildings and started a village restaurant.  It is called just that, the Shotley Gate Restaurant. The entrepreneurs were a Mr and Mrs F.C. GOOD.

Many of my readers will not be aware of this, either because they had left Ganges before this time, or were training at Shotley when the use of the restaurant was discouraged but never specifically placed out of bounds. To rectify that, I have produced the following diagram of the Village layout of Shotley Gate.


Below is a silhouette view of the restaurant building as viewed from the windows of the Ganges School


Restaurant side elevation facing the Ganges School [rear entrance off  road shown in green above {in PICTURE A}- note rear garden not shown to your left] to footpath running alongside School Road - with front garden turfed and separated from the turfed area at the front right hand side belonging to the Ganges School by a fence, to your right. That distance is 80 feet in all. The gates to HMS Ganges are further to the right and could easily be viewed from the fence. You will remember that the Ganges School was accessed via iron gates [on School Road]  followed by a flight of quite steep steps, leading down to the quadrant [small parade ground] in front of the School proper. As the steps formed a steep 'bank' in the front of the School, then to the left and right of the School [and to some extent at the rear of the School] there were very steep lawned areas. All other buildings in the village [civilian private houses] were built on the original ground height/level, eight foot six inches higher than the School, and this can been seen in the next picture which is a cross section showing [from ground level to roof] the right hand fabric wall of the School, and thirty foot six inches away, the ground to roof level of the restaurant at lowest height i.e., the section on the left with three windows in it. The "new window" is the third window in from the left in the low section [flat roof] of the restaurant building, but as you will see, retrospective action was taken to include all four windows you can see, the other three installed at differing earlier times.


In this picture, you can see the height of the raised lawned bank rising to a height of eight foot six inches from the ground level of the School, starting at a distance of six foot six inches from the fabric wall. You can also see that a window [a 'new' window] has been built into the restaurant the bottom of which is four foot seven inches from the ground level of the restaurant. Notice the height of the School up to roof level is twentyfive feet.  Also note that the School has two very tall windows with two bricked areas, and that if a line were to be drawn from the middle of the 'new window' in the restaurant to the School, it would run through brickwork and not through a window. Moreover, given the height of the lawned bank and the height of the low end [flat roof] of the restaurant, the School building still towers above a substantial part of the restaurant, and the distance from the School to the restaurant would not restrict the light coming into the building, although the roof of the restaurant would be visible to those using the top floor of the School.



This picture shows a PLAN of the School and the restaurant. Note the long and well established School heads which were original to the School build. The entrance to HMS Ganges is along School Road to the right of the picture and to the left of the picture, Battery Lane which was out of bounds to boys and the entrance gates leading to the rear of the Wardroom, the rose garden, the Signal School and the steps faith, hope and charity inter alia. The fabric wall of the restaurant formed the boundary between naval property and civilian property.  At this stage in the story, take no notice of the proposed site for a MOD oil storage tank.

The parameters for the story are now set and we are ready for the off!

Many of you will be house owners and as a part of your DEEDS there will be easements which protect your rights to certain privileges/service/elements etc. One of these is the RIGHT OF LIGHT and one to be protected at all costs.

The purport comes from the Ancient Light Law of 1832 which simply says that a long standing owner [after twenty years] of a building with windows, has a right to maintain the level of illumination/light through the windows. The rights do NOT APPLY to added new windows unless before you add the new window[s] you seek legal professional advice and planning permission. Whereas the law stops a neighbour from erecting a building which does deny light/illumination to your property, it work in favour of an owner building an obstructing building which will obstruct the light to a "new window" in an adjoining property, the owner of which cannot of course claim the protection of the Ancient Light Law. NOTE that 'Ancient Lights' does NOT applying to buildings belonging to the Crown i.e., they cannot be acquired against the Crown.

Now this story is about a man called Mr F.C. Good, who, along with his wife Mrs Good, decided that they would add a new window to their restaurant property, probably to get rid of cooking smells in the kitchen area but also to add more light into his premises. Technically they were in the wrong, and after twenty years, the owner could have claimed a right of light for that window, so now was the time to act by the MOD to make sure that that would never be the case and that the MOD could build whatever they wanted in the grounds of the Ganges School and not risk the accusation of 'denying light' .  As it turned out, twenty years on would have been 1984, and by that time Ganges would have gone and the School turned over to new users.  Additionally, I cannot find any mention of the restaurant trading after 1973, so I assume that it too was also sold off or the building used for other purposes.

It takes some believing, but from start to finish there were upwards of thirty two letters written by MOD authorities with a handful written by Mr Good.  Together, they form a file which should frighten off any property owner hell-bent on blocking light or adding feature to gain light.  In 1964 it involved a small army of MOD civilian employees to sort the problem out.

I will show you a small part of this correspondence simply because it once affected our old alma mater.




Jumping ahead a little but coming back to this page in its correct order in the sequence, have a look at this letter which more than any other shows you just how hacked-off Mr Good was at receiving so many letters about his "new window"


So, to the start of the story. The first letter on the subject.



I can't figure out what the handwriting says and I doubt whether you will be able to do so.  Nevertheless, have a bash.













....................................and so ended SOME of the letters of 1964.  The letters went on into 1966.

Remember earlier on I showed you a letter from Mr Good to the MOD out of sequence?  Well I now return to that letter, PICTURE C reprinted here for your convenience

Mr Good, thinking himself to be clever decided to take on the Navy.  WRONG! He took on the wrong people and in the meanwhile, opened up a can-of-worms for people to see into his private affairs.  I am not going to show you the many 1965 letters written/received before this one dated the 4th October, but I will show you the letters from the MOD in response to the letter above.



Mr Good, arrogant to the end even though he was guilty of breaking the law. The outcome could have been negotiated with a satisfactory ruling for all sides, but in the end, the Royal Navy won game, set and match. Good had to pay a small amount yearly for having the windows {10s pa for a licence to include all four windows in the restaurant overlooking  the Ganges School}; lost his right for 'right of light and air', which, were he to have sold the property, would have affected the easements; had to tolerate the oil tank outside some of the windows in an area originally planned for that purpose, and had his mortgage documents [Deeds], the Titles, endorsed to reflect the limitations on his building .  He was also exposed to ridicule for telling several important porky-pies on points concerning his house - was it registered, who owned it, was it mortgaged, freehold or leasehold  etc, to which, by and large he gave the wrong answers.  The correct answers were found by the Treasury Solicitors which involved the undoing on much work, all to be re-done with the correct information. He could well have been prosecuted!

This letter [august 1965]  is just one example, and still he maintained  his rights were in God's hands and not in the 'laws of the land' and/or in the hands of the adjoining land owner, who, you will remember , being Crown property, is excused this Law, as well as several others on the statute books.


I trust and hope that you found the contents of the file of interest.