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Development of Hangleton and West Blatchington

Many local people will be aware of the rapid development of both Hangleton and West Blatchington, however the actual details of how quickly these two areas expanded will surprise almost everyone!  Although I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about the area, the early 1930’s map came as a surprise, almost nothing north of the Old Shoreham Road at that time!  Even though by looking at the buildings in the area it’s quite easy to estimate dates of construction, I questioned the reliability of the map with a local surveyor.  He assured me of its accuracy, he also pointed out that the boom in housing construction of the 1930’s following the depression is a well documented fact.

The Great Depression/Building Boom
The Great Depression, although starting in the USA in October 1929 soon affected the world’s economy.  At this time land became cheap to buy, and interest rates were low.   Cheap money and lower costs meant that developers could construct houses more cheaply than before.  Also the 1930 Housing Act (Greenwood Act) introduced by Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government had the aim of building new quality homes. Three million houses were built in the 1930s, half a million of them being council houses.  It’s with this background in mind that the 1930’s development of Hangleton and West Blatchington can be appreciated!

In the early 1930’s few buildings existed north of the Old Shoreham Road, however by 1950, only 20 years later, housing development extended right up the top of Amberley Drive, the topmost section having been built in 1949.  What’s more astounding is that for 5 years WWII interrupted any building, and actually the building programme took only 15 years to cover much of Hangleton and West Blatchington with housing.

Early 1930’s map
Some interesting points on the map are; firstly most prominent is the old Dyke Branch Railway, still running at this time, however in decline due to the increased use of motorised transport!  The village of West Blatchington, bigger than its neighbour Hangleton, which was just a few farm buildings around Hangleton Manor.  The new greyhound stadium opened a few years earlier in 1928 to the southeast.  Most of the Nevill area made up of allotments and smallholdings.  The main roads that we know today can easily be identified as “rights of way” through both West Blatchingtonand Hangleton.  The meeting point of six of these tracks, where the Grenadier now stands can be clearly seen, the current roads taking their alignment from the old tracks.  Brighton and Hove 18 hole golf course extending right down to the site of the ancient village of Hangleton, close by to where the Downsman pub now stands.  There are many more points of interest on the old map, however my final one is the dew pond in front of St. Helen’s Church, mentioned in many of the comments on this web site!

Pre and post WWII development
In general terms it can be stated that development prior to WWII was up to the area of the Grenadier, however a few roads did extend north beyond this.  Both Poplar Avenue and Applesham Avenue are examples, and must have faced open downland prior to WWII.  Following WWII a lack of housing was a major problem faced by Atlee’s Labour government.  Much energy was directed at the building of good quality council homes, the Sunninghill estate is an example of this.  Across the country in 1948 the Labour government managed to build 227,000 new homes and averaged 200,000 per year between 1948 and 1951.  However it was still not enough, there was a shortfall of 750,000 homes by 1951.  In Hangleton and West Blatchington post WWII development was mainly northward from the Grenadier and both east and west from the 3 main arteries of Applesham and Poplar Avenue and Nevill Road.

The Conservatives return to power in 1951
The Conservatives, lead by Winston Churchill, returned to power in 1951 on a pledge to build 300,000 new houses a year!  Prior to that the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act enabled local authorities to designate areas as “green belts” to protect them from development, this put a check to further building northwards in Hangleton.  However there was still room on the east and west sides, and the development of the north end of Goldstone Crescent and surrounding area was started in the early 1950’s.  To the west in 1952 the St. Helen’s estate between Poplar Avenue and Hangleton Way was built.

By the 1960’s very few sizeable areas were left for development, one of the last of these was Hangleton Valley, where bungalows were constructed in the mid 1960’s.  With urbanisation now up to the green belt, the only areas left, apart from Toads Hole, were contained; many of these areas would be next!  Harmsworth Crescent is a good example of this, also built in the mid 1960’s.  With the whole of Hangleton and West Blatchington now surrounded by the Brighton by-pass, only the valley of Toads Hole remains pretty much the same as it was in 1930, although probably awaiting future development!

Click the map for a full screen image.

Hangleton and West Blatchington C.1930
From the private collection of Peter Groves

Comments about this page

  • I have a Brighton Gazette 1947 year book which shows Sunninghill estate being built using ex WWII German POWs. I presume it was difficult to repatriate them into war wrecked Germany and they were employed in the UK.

    By Geoffrey Mead (16/01/2009)
  • Does anyone know in what year the houses in Northease Drive, and Hangleton schools were built? Please e-mail me at

    By matthew Hinton (18/10/2010)
  • Does anyone have knowledge of ‘the long hedge’ which ran north of Hangleton to the Downs? Is it marked on Peter Groves’ 1930s map? I believe it separated the parishes of West Blatchington and Hangleton.

    By Geoff Stoner (08/12/2012)
  • The estate to the east of Hangleton Road was called the Aldrington Manor Estate and served by Rowan Halt. It opened in 1934 on the Dyke Line. Buses also served the estate, being extended gradually as Hangleton grew.

    By Steve Ewald Manchester (11/04/2013)
  • If Mr Hinton hasn’t had a reply about his query about Northease Drive I can confirm from a book I have about Brighton Hove and District bus company that buses were extended to that point in October 1938 as a result of the limited housing development at that time north of the Grenadier. I can’t help about the school though.

    By Steve Ewald (12/04/2013)
  • Hangleton Infants School was opened in 1949 and the Juniors in 1952, you can read about it here;

    By Peter Groves (14/04/2013)
  • Does anyone know when the bungalows on the right hand side of Greenleas in Hangleton were built please? I was born in March 1954 and lived with my parents at newly-built number 6 Greenleas; one of my earliest memories is seeing the bungalows opposite being built and I would love to place a date on their construction to date my earliest memory.

    By Martin Harman (18/09/2016)
  • Does anyone have details of the original sales price of bungalows in Summerdale Road (1938?). My parents purchased from new and a sum of £250 comes to memory. My father was earning about 25 shillings a week at the time, approx. 75 pounds a year, as an insurance agent, so a  deposit of £25.00 and a mortgage of say three times annual income suggests a likely price. Perhaps an original a sales advert?

    By David Lawrence (12/12/2016)

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