It was either fated, or the most incredible set of coincidences, that brought the Generating Station's savoir together. For sure, without him, the proud new owner in 1981, had it in mind to demolish what they saw as a liability. That was until he was running short of change, and wanted to secure the skills of his best decorator & handyman.




How is it that an Austrian and a Russian, came to the rescue of Herstmonceux Generating Works In East Sussex?


Well, first of all it was not one Russian and an Austrian, it was a combination of Rosemarie and Igor Askaroff, escaped to England from Austria, then relocating to Eastbourne, to evade the Gestapo, where they raised six boys. Of those six children, three boys would grow up to become well acquainted with Victor. These were Alex, Nikolai and Maximilian Askaroff. This in turn introduced Victor to Rosemarie, Igor Askaroff, and very briefly, Stuart John Twentyman-Turnbull, known as John.


This was a true rags-to-riches story that began in World War Two in Nazi occupied Austria. You can imagine the relief of being accepted in the UK. Although together many years, Igor and Rosemarie separated while in Eastbourne, Igor moving to Pevensey Bay, where Victor visited on a couple of occasions. Rosemarie remained in number seven Ashburnham Gardens with her boys, where the figs and winter radishes were amazing. While living here, 'Mrs A' (or Mumsie) purchased a white Rolls Royce, that was claimed, once belonged to Freddie Laker; a petrol guzzler that leaked a lot of oil.


Rosemarie invented such things as the 'Raincape' that simply pulled over a pushchair to keep a baby dry in the rain. Other things like the 'Top‘n’Tail,' a plastic changing-mat that baby could not roll off, with pouches at the bottom for such as talc and nappy-rash cream. These were items that were in daily use around Britain and then the world. There were few babies that did not have one of these products. The family business became one of the largest manufacturers of baby goods in Europe. Supplying every baby shop in the country, later changing their brand name to: Premiere Baby.


For a time, Victor, worked for Rosemarie Askaroff, at her nursery supply business in Willowfield Road, Eastbourne. He was friends with Alexander Askaroff, Nick's younger brother, where Alex and Vic both attended Ratton Secondary School, and later the Eastbourne College of Further Education, studying engineering. Rosemarie took a shine to Victor, calling him her 7th son at times.


In reality, Rosemarie had eloped, without her mother's blessing with French speaking, Igor Askaroff, a Russian asylum seeker, after they met in Austria when she was just thirteen years of age. They were confusing and desperate times. Moving from London to Eastbourne, Igor at first made ends meet working as a dustman to support his family, while Rosemarie was an industrious seamstress, stitching clothes for her six children. Igor and Rosemarie founded Simplantex in Eastbourne with business and financial support from Stuart John Twentyman-Turnbull, to make her shower-proof buggy capes from polymerized, treated material. These coveralls proved to be popular among the mothers Rosemarie met during school runs, also very useful for mobility carriages. And that is how it started. There was a demand.


Victor had a falling out with Rosemarie of sorts, when commissioned to build a cupboard and shelves, to her design. Unfortunately, the original design was not as she'd envisaged, and Victor had to change it at her request, to make it more pleasing. But, Mumsie would not pay for the extra time this took. Being used to a daily rate, as opposed to quotes. The disagreement went as far as the County Court, before they kissed and made up with help from Nick, and Mrs A agreed to pay the difference. Later, Victor worked on another house for Rosemarie, just off Summerdown Road, installing a hatch from kitchen to dining room.


According to The Times, 3rd July issue 1986, in the Marriages section: Mr Stuart John Twentyman Turnbull and Mrs Rosemarie Askaroff were married in 1986. "The marriage took place quietly in Eastbourne on Saturday June 2nd 1986." The union lasted until 1991, when Stuart passed, according to British Peerage.







An aerial view of Herstmonceux Museum in 2022, showing the public footpaths north of the generating buildings. Many of which are unregistered, but well trodden for over forty years, from our records.







We are very sad to report that after a short illness mum passed peacefully at her home at Compton Lodge on 18th June 2022.

Mum (aka Mrs A and then Mrs T) was a remarkable lady and made an impression on everyone that she met.

Her mother Sheila was British and the daughter of the founder of the Savoy Hotel in London. 


[Great, Great Grandfather was Stanley Carr Boulter, barrister and founder of the Law Debenture, who married Helen D'Oyly Carte of the Savoy Theatre and Savoy Hotel empire. The Savoy Hotel is located in the Strand in the City of Westminster in central London, England. Built by the impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte with profits from his Gilbert and Sullivan opera productions. Richard D'Oyly Carte founded the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and built the state-of-the-art Savoy Theatre to host the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. He brought together the dramatist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan and nurtured their collaboration on a series of thirteen Savoy operas. Coincidentally, the Savoy was the first hotel in Britain to introduce electric lights throughout the building, and electric lifts.]


Sheila was married to Johannes Faistauer, the brother of Anton the famous painter and was living in Vienna when she became pregnant with mum. Both became trapped in Austria when the Nazis walked in and as a young child mum could clearly remember the shiny boots of the Gestapo whom used to regularly detain her parents.

Things were extremely difficult during the war, but mum survived and she married Igor a French speaking White Russian whom escaped communism and had spent his childhood in Nice and then was interned in Austria.

After cessation of hostilities they came to England living at first in Rillington Place, London, with Igor working as an handy man in the Theatres and mum as a seamstress.


[Rillington Place is famous for John Christie 1899 – 1953, an English serial killer active during the 1940s and early 1950s. Christie murdered at least eight people - including his wife, Ethel - by strangling them in his flat at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London. Timothy Evans, a tenant at 10 Rillington Place during 1948–49, was charged with murdering Beryl Evans and his baby daughter Geraldine, found guilty of the murder of his daughter, and hanged in 1950. Christie subsequently admitted killing Beryl. In 2004 the High Court acknowledged that Evans did not murder either his wife or his child, killed unlawfully, where the police mishandled of the original inquiry.] 

After spells in Oxfordshire and Cornwall they finally made their home in the “English Riviera” of Eastbourne. Together they had six boys and built up a successful plastics company [Simplantex] employing many local people.

Rosemarie had an amazing mind. Apart from being Chair of the Governors at a local school, she was very green fingered and knew all the plants & specie in Latin. She spoke five languages. She memorised many famous operas and was a regular at Glyndebourne. An avid reader and very familiar with the great novels.

She got up at five most mornings and worked her fingers to the bone until the late hours.

Mum always tried to stay healthy to make up for her hard life. Her mantra was Yoga, yoghurt (homemade) and wheat germ. She was a great cook and entertained many. She was always giving the grand children cooking lessons and as matriarch of a very large family of children, adopted daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren her recipes were handed down and treasured. Gugelhupf, Apfel strudel & Schnitzel elicit a mouth-watering response to many.

She travelled the world and had many stories to tell. She was an elegant woman of great dignity and generous to many charities. In a typical no nonsense dictum she did not want a service or any fuss. Her wishes have been carried out and her body has been donated to the Inspector of Anatomy in London to expand medical science and bring new life.

We are indebted to St Wilfrids whom cared for mum in her last days. Granddaughter Dr. Natasha Askaroff is doing the charity walk in August to raise money for St Wilfrids and any donations are most gratefully received. 










Although Victor began as friends with Alex Askaroff, from attending Eastbourne College of Further Education, together, where they studied for a BTech in engineering, he very much liked chatting with Rosemarie, even attending a Yoga session, eventually gaining a certificate. Vic and Alex had bought a damaged vehicle together, in an abortive attempt to become car repairers, and almost turned to house renovation, before Alex returned to sewing machines: Sussex Sewing Machines. Alex serviced all the machines at Simplantex, and for their outworkers, before one almighty bust up between the boys: Noel, Nikolia, Alex, Max, Simon (Sam), Oliver - in order of age.


When Clare and Nikolia moved to Lime Park, Mrs A, took a fancy to a derelict building facing into Knights Nurseries. She thought of that as a potential Granny-Annex. Rosemarie asked Victor to clear the overgrown unit, but Clare, Nick, or both, halted the work, perhaps not that keen on having their mother/in-law quite so close to home. Our money is on Clare, with Nick as negotiator.


Rosemarie visited the Generating Station a couple of times when in Lime Park, commenting that it had potential, where many others could not see that. She was thus a visionary, predicting that the building had a history, that may be worth looking into.


But, if it had not been for Rosemarie and Igor, coming to England, Nikolia and Clare Askaroff would never have met, and could not then have bought number 4 Lime Park together, and Victor would never have seen the old Generating Station buildings, on his lunchtime trips to the village shops.









Alexander Igor Askaroff

Sewing machine engineer

Casper Johnson

County Archaeologist ESCC

Clare Askaroff (nee Martin)

Wife of Nikolia

Dr Andrew Woodcock

County Archaeologist ESCC

Greg Chuter

County Archaeologist ESCC

Igor Askaroff

Russian émigré

John Hopkinson

Electrical Engineer

Sir Joseph Wilson Swan

Inventor light bulb, UK

Major Charles de Roemer


Margaret Pollard (Peggy Green)

The chauffeur’s daughter

Max Askaroff

Donated the Australian Bulldog ant

Neil Griffin

County Archaeologist ESCC 2023

Nikolia Fawley Askaroff

MD Simplantex, deal maker

Ron Martin

Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society

Ronald Saunders

The engineer’s son

Rosemarie Violet Twentyman-Turnbull (Askaroff)

Austrian seamstress

Sophie Unger

ESCC historic environment records officer

Thomas Alva Edison

Inventor, light bulb USA

Vic the Handyman

Archaeological sleuth, amateur detective






If you know of any information that may help us complete this story, please get in touch.













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