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Putting together a new home

My mum in the back garden of our prefab
From the private collection of Alan Drake

Very harsh winters

When we moved into Woodingdean in the late 1940s, my aunt and uncle lived in a bungalow in The Ridgway; their names were Ellen and Burt York. They lived about halfway up on the left, but I cannot remember the number any more. I will never forget those winters; we were often snowed in for several weeks at a time. There were also some very severe snowdrifts particularly in the Falmer Road.

A real bathroom

But aside from those tough winters, the area seemed like heaven to me. There were lots of wide open spaces where kids could roam safely. Our lovely prefab also had a great big garden for me to play in. I have to admit it was a bit of a jungle then, but was all the more fun because of it. I remember the real summer treat of ice lollies from our own fridge. There was also the novelty of a real bathroom with hot and cold water; best of all I had my own bedroom.

Grooms the bakers would come round with their big baskets of fresh bread.Life then was a world away from life as we know it today.

Roads still unmade

When we first moved there, the roads to the prefabs were mostly unmade, and I recall that there were not very many prefabs erected either. Although those early times were loads of fun for me, for my parents, the task of putting together a home was just beginning.  What little furniture we had was in store, and had to be delivered from Brighton. It must have been a very difficult time for my parents, there must have been so many problems to overcome.

Food rationing still in force

To make matters worse, food rationing was in force. Being out in what was then ‘the country’ meant long walks to get the shopping. The nearest shops were in Warren Road, which was quite some way away, and of course there was the long walk back carrying all the shopping. The buses only ran as far as the Downs Hotel from the Race Hill. We had no telephone, and would have to walk for five minutes to get to the nearest call box, even in an emergency. In later years there were, as I recall, several mobile shops that used to visit the area.

Do you remember?

Do you remember the prefabs? Did you ever live in Woodingdean? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • I lived at Kipling avenue no 34. I remember a shop being at the top of Kipling Ave where my mum used to send me to buy groceries etc. I used to ride my ‘Mobo’ scooter back down Kipling Avenue and managed to pick up a fair bit of speed before I got home.

    By Len Allen (28/05/2014)

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