The History of Fairfield House


For many years before and after the First World War Mr Sewell MRCVS had a veterinary practice in London Road , Uckfield with branches in Heathfield, Horam, Lewes and Eastbourne. He had a great deal of competition from unqualified “quacks” in the area. Mr Goldsmith of Alexandra Road was one such local famous quack who could always be found in the Alma Arms when not out on a visit


During the Second World War Mr Turnbull MRCVS of Lewes succeeded in buying up almost every veterinary practice in East Sussex as much of the area along the coast had been evacuated and business was much reduced. After the war, he put Mr Needham MRCVS in as a manager of the Uckfield practice with Heathfield as a branch practice

Needham & Setterfield

In about 1950 Mr Needham bought the practice from Mr Turnbull and moved from London Road to Fairfield House, the present home of the practice. At that time Fairfield House had four major rooms downstairs with eight bedrooms and two bathrooms. The 1948 Veterinary Surgeons Act effectively sealed the fate of the old “quacks” and from that time only qualified veterinary surgeons could practice.

Mr Needham had overstretched himself in buying the practice and Fairfield House and accrued a large debt and despite having Mr Settlefield as a salaried partner in Heathfield the Uckfield part of the practice was put up for sale.


In October 1953 Mr Desmond Gunner bought the Uckfield practice and Mr Settlefield the Heathfield part of the practice. The clients were arbitrarily split on a territorial basis between the two “new” practices. Uckfield got  Buxted and Halland and Heathfield got Cross in Hand, Waldron and Chiddingly.

Gunner & Clarke

Peter Clark had been at College with Desmond and after working as an assistant for a year he then bought a half share in the partnership. The practice had been sorely neglected by Mr Needham who was often away rifle shooting and playing golf!

Gunner, Clarke & Grainger

However by 1958 there was more than enough work for two vets and Ken Grainger joined the Practice. Ken had been at college with Desmond and Peter at Liverpool in the same 1946 academic intake and he eventually purchased a third share.

Clarke, Grainger & Howe

Desmond had many interests and he was finding it increasingly difficult to devote enough time to work and he eventually retired in 1968. He was replaced by local girl Christine Howe and it became a very busy three-person practice.

Clarke, Grainger, Howe & Starnes

By 1980 the workload had increased further and two new vets were taken on- one of them Andrew Starnes (another local) went on to become a partner.

Howe, Starnes & Gatward

Ken Grainger died in 1984 and a replacement was needed. Lloyd Gatward had been a student at the practice and agreed to join the team and later became a partner following Peter Clarke’s retirement in 1993.

Howe, Starnes, Gatward & Blowey

In March 1995 Steve Blowey joined the team , having worked at a neighbouring practice for many years. Many of his clients followed him and the practice went from strength to strength. He became a partner shortly after.

By the late 1990s the farm work had declined and the domestic animal side of the practice had increased to such an extent that major renovations were carried out at Fairfield House to make way for a new operating theatre, postmortem room and more office space.

Kirsty Turrell also joined the practice as an assistant the same year ( another local girl) and she too had been a student at the practice during her college training and having done work experience with Steve when she was sixteen! She later became a partner in 2011.

Andrew Wood joined as an assistant in 2002 having spent a year working near Bristol and he joined the partnership in 2005.

Christine retired in 2008.

In September 2014, Lloyd decided to retire  after thirty years working at the practice.

Blowey, Wood and Turrell

Andrew Starnes retired in September 2016 after many years of service at the practice and he sadly died in January 2017 following a long illness. He left a huge hole. Steve went on to retire in 2018.

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If you would like to register your pets with us at Fairfield House then please give us a call now, or follow the link to fill in a registration form and one of our friendly members of staff will be in touch.

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