Nostalgia: Town in mourning over Mother Goose

Anne Scicluna, pictured in 1983 after becoming mayor of Chichester for the first time
Anne Scicluna, pictured in 1983 after becoming mayor of Chichester for the first time

HUNSTON was in mourning ten years ago this week, as the canal’s renowned ‘Mother Goose’ was attacked by swans and died of her injuries.

In the May 15, 2003, edition of the Chichester Observer, the paper reported: “Hunston’s famous Mother Goose – a familiar sight on the Chichester canal for more than ten years – is dead.

“Remarkably, she became an unofficial ‘au pair’ for two swans living on the canal several years ago, and helped to look after several generations of their 
offspring, mothering the cygnets when the parents were away from them.

“The swans and the goose got on well together, even though swans are normally territorial and aggressive towards outsiders.

“But trouble started after the cob – the male swan – died early last year. The female swan eventually found a new, younger mate, who did not take too kindly to the attentions of Mother Goose, and was far less tolerant. Like all swans, he was fiercely protective of his young, when they were born this year, and launched an attack on the goose. Coots in the area, who also had young, then attacked her as well, and the injuries were so severe, including damage to one eye and a wing, that the goose had to be put down by the RSPCA at a local animal rescue centre.”

The paper also quoted John Herniman, secretary of the Chichester Ship Canal Trust, who said of the goose: “This is not only ornithologically most unusual, if not unique, but has also provided regular amusement if not affectionate interest for thousands of canal visitors.”

“We were amazed at the reaction to her death, “ said one resident. “Everyone felt as if they had lost a dear friend, as in many ways the goose was.”

In the same week’s paper, students at Chichester College were opposing plans for 
a new £3m nightclub in Terminus Road.

Student Union president Lisa French wrote to the district council to register her objection to the plans.

She made it clear students in the city did want a nightclub, however they objected to it being placed on the Terminus Road estate.

“The people living in this area should not have the worry and stress that this large development will cause,” she said.

Fifteen years previously, on May 12, 1983, the Chichester Observer also wrote of the new mayor-elect Anne Scicluna, who was following in her father’s footsteps by becoming mayor.

The paper reported it was the first time in the 744-year history of Chichester mayorality that a daughter had taken on the role previously held by her father.

Mrs Scicluna has since held the role many times over the years, most recently for the last mayoral year – overseeing the city’s Jubilee celebrations.