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A Portslade childhood in pictures

Does anyone recognise these youthful faces?

The first photo is of the Portslade Baptist Church Life Boys group, circa 1953. Middle row,1st left is Alan Gaze, 2nd left is Capt. Bert Streeter middle row far right yours truly, Jim Duncan. Regretfully I can’t recall the name of the Minister then or any of the other boys.

The second photo is of Benfield School Swimming Team for the interschool swimming sports, circa 1950. Yours truly is seated 2nd from left, aged 9.

Maybe someone can help in identifying anyone else?

Portslade Baptist Church Life Boys group
From the private collection of Jim Duncan
Benfield School Swimming Team
From the private collection of Jim Duncan

Comments about this page

  • At a guess I would say that the big lad top centre is Plum Smith (Mile oak Rd ) now in Australia. Third in from right on second row is Tom Gilbert who died 5 years ago having lived in Codnor, Derbyshire. Bottom left could be a lad called Harris.

    By Paul Abbott (30/08/2008)
  • Hi Paul. Thanks for your input – somewhere in my memory I feel you are right, especially with the Harris lad. Were you at Benfield at this same time?

    By Jim Duncan (04/09/2008)
  • Hi Jim, in the swimming photo,I recognize Tony Harris, bottom left, Plum Smith 4th left standing and it looks like a young Fred Starr seated far right.

    By Tony Clevett (24/10/2008)
  • Hi my name is Joan (nee Constable). Are you the Clevetts that lived in St Michaels Road, Porstlade at No. 2? I lived at No. 8 and my two aunties lived at Nos. 4 and 6.

    By Jac (19/11/2008)
  • I think that is Fred Starr. I was his girlfriend in the late 40s. I also know the Clevett family, if it is the one that lived in St Michaels Road, Portslade.

    By Jac (20/11/2008)
  • Hi Joan. My dad, Fred Clevett, lived at 2 St Michaels Road. I spent a lot of my childhood at that address. Also my auntie lived there after my grandparents passed away, her name was Elsie.

    By Elaine Wildblood (nee Clevett) (08/12/2008)
  • Hi Tony. My auntie lived next door to your dad. I remember your Aunt Elsie. I also remember a man call Charlie Clevett. I don’t know if you remember my cousins: Derek, Reg and Arthur Cottis?

    By Jac (09/12/2008)
  • Hi Joan. I don’t remember Charlie Clevett but my dad’s name was Fred Clevett and he had brothers Bill and Tich and sisters Hilda, Edith and Elsie. I am the daughter of Fred Clevett and I remember when Elsie and Tich lived at 2 St Michael’s Road after my grandparents passed away. My grandfather was in the Salvation Army band and so was my grandmother. My father married Doreen Stredwick from Lincoln Road, Portslade.  My mother’s grandmother, Charlotte Christmas, lived in East Street or Ellen Street. I lived in East Street as a child until the house we were renting got compulsory purchased and we were rehoused in a new flat in Valley Road in upper Portslade. My parents remained living there until their deaths in 2006. Can anybody remember the Hole in the Wall in East Street?

    By Elaine Wildblood (nee Clevett) (13/01/2009)
  • Hi Jim Duncan. The officer in charge of the Life Boys, on the left( big man)was Albert Streeter who lived at Farm Way, Southwick who worked at the gasworks as a carpenter, mainly working on the groynes at the back of the works which the gas board had to maintain. His son David lives in Valley Rd now. I and my dad, and grandad all worked at the gas. I was a life-boy 1947-1949, but I lived just over the border in Manor Hall Road, ( east end), next to the Hardings (a very big family). The vicar at the Baptist chapel at that time I think was Bumble Clements, who used to show us still films on his magic lantern in the room at the rear of the chapel where the life-boys met. All my father’s (Samual William Hunter) family were born at 8 Middle St, Portslade. My father S.W.Hunter was an officer in the gas-works fire brigade, the best brigade in the south-east of England from 1920-1940. I have the the awards that used to hang on the fire-station walls at the gas works-they got a extra 1d per hour for being a fireman and used to go in for compertitions against other brigades to win a crate of beer. Other men in the team were Bill Bridle and his father, Tom Wren and I think one other, but can’t remember his name . During the Blitz on London, as the fireman were getting killed there, my father ended up in Croydon to cover for those that were killed. The gas works had a very good football team in the 1920s ,they won the Brighton district league, and junoir cup. My father played as centre-forward, with Charlie Burtenshaw, Tom Smith,and Purse Fuller in goal. We used to row the large boats across the canal to get to the gasworks, they took up to 20 workers. Nobody liked to have to work the oars- on one accasion as the other three oarsmen were not pulling hard enough,this chap threw all four oars over the side, jumped in the canal and swam to the other side, leaving the others stranded. They were all late for work and lost half an hours pay. During the war, a German fighter came down the canal, just as the boats were half way across. They reckon that’s the fastest the boats ever crossed the canal, faster than Oxford and Cambridge. The chap at the bottom left in the swimming photo is Tony Harris who lived in Valley Rd. I worked with him about 1956, doing artex ceilings for Middleton’s of Lancing, used to all meet up on Saturdays at Robin’s Cafe in Boundary Rd,  then off to the Regent to eye up the girls. That’s where I met my wife to be, (Anne South) and we have just had our golden wedding. I still have the nickname of Olly. Happy Days

    By Roger Hunter (13/06/2009)
  • That’s me! I’m in the second row – the 1st girl on the left.

    By Diane Newnham (30/06/2009)
  • Hello Roger Hunter. Thanks for your reply. Your comments have revived many lost memories for me. I can recall Bert Streeter and his job at the Works. I was there in the Laboratory for about 3 years and lived opposite the long stairway from Wellington Road down to the jetty to cross over the canal to the Works. I think you are probably right about Minister Clemence and I well remember the ‘magic lantern shows’ in the back room. I recall those very large, heavy rowing boats and my early attempts to cross over alone on a Saturday morning (the luxury of late-start Lab hours). The Works’ Manager in my time there was a Mr Shadbolt, and my grandfather Ben Fears worked the Siphon truck for many years in the Works. I left England to travel overland to New Zealand in 1966 and have been here ever since. It’s good to hear that several of the kids in that picture at Benfield School are still about, and especially good to hear from Diane Newnham who is in the picture. My thanks to all for your follow-up. Life was so much easier then. Jim Duncan, Akaroa, New Zealand.

    By Jim Duncan (06/07/2009)
  • Hello Jim Duncan. My, what a surprise to see your name. You’ve got to be the young lad we knew as “Duncan the sunken” due to your SCUBA diving activities. Peter Potter and I often used to see you emerging from the sea at the back of the gas works, hauling a line full of fish behind you. In case you’ve forgotten, Peter and I were the Instrument Dept. When the works closed, we joined the Distribution Instrument dept and later went on to form the Sussex sector of Transmission instruments. Both of us retired about twenty years ago. It was great to see all those old ‘Gassies’ names. Hope you get back to me. In the meantime, best wishes from one of your old mates. Cheers, Ron.

    By Ron Charlton (16/07/2009)
  • Hello Ron Charlton – yes, it’s ‘Duncan the Sunken’ here.  So good to hear from you after all these years! I well remember you and Peter Potter from my days in the Works Laboratory. We had a great team there under the management of Bob Martin as Works Chemist. I really enjoyed my first paid employment. After leaving the Works in 1961 I pursued a career in commercial diving, my consuming passion, which provided me with both excitement and a good lifestyle. I finally ‘swallowed the anchor’ and came ashore some years ago to retire here in an idyllic location at Tikao Bay on Banks Peninsula in the South Island of New Zealand. I travelled out to NZ by the overland route in 1966 taking some 20 months to get here in a Bedford Dormobile. Do you remember them? This country has been wonderful to me and I am a naturalised New Zealander, although I still retain my UK passport too. In more recent years I have developed the feeling for a nostalgic return visit to Britain to those people and places of my youth, which I have sorely missed. Elsewhere you have mentioned Dinky Martin – my old co-conspirator and mate. Glad to hear he still has a pulse and please, do send Dink my warmest regards. He was always coming up with some new mischief for us and together with Ray Williard, Derek Ford and me; we had great fun and some repercussions occasionally. Although I was told to “stay away from that boy” he was a magnet for me, and I hold many happy memories of our exploits together. Sorry to hear that the Works has closed – whatever happened? Emigration brings about many unexpected reactions not the least of which is separation from old friends and places. I imagine ‘my Portslade’ has changed beyond recognition now and I hope to see it again before I shuffle-off. This great web-site evokes so many memories and nostalgia for me. I have 2 adult children and my daughter visited my old haunts a few years ago. My old home at 49 Wellington Road is gone of course, but Lisa stayed in Portslade for several days to bring back memories for me. I’m now 68 and retired in an idyllic location, surrounded by native bush. We have pole-house just metres from the water’s edge and some 60 kilometre from the main city of Christchurch. There must be others over there who may remember me and I’d love to hear from them. Please keep in touch.

    By Jim Duncan (21/07/2009)
  • I have only just caught up with this part of the site. It was my Dad who was Charlie Clevett, we lived in Buckler street for many years before moving to Drove Crescent. My Dad drove the number 6 bus for many years. I have been researching the Clevett family history for many years ans I am distantly related to you Elaine.

    By Tony Clevett (01/11/2009)
  • Hello Elaine Wildblood, I used to lived at 25 East Street and remember the hole in the wall, it was good when they opened the door so we could take a short cut to St Andrews Road. Your grandmother, Mrs Christmas, use to live oppsite us and my younger sister used to do some shopping for her. We were also moved to Valley Road, what number house did you live in east street? I have only just found this site while I was looking at some pictures. I now live in Australia but my sister still lives in England.

    By Pat Finneran (22/11/2009)
  • I don’t see him in the picture, nor do I know too much about the history of the Hove/ Brighton area, but my Dad – Peter Hills – would have been around seven or eight when this picture was taken and he grew up in Hove. His best friend was Dennis Goldsmith, who still lives in Steyning. I believe they went to what is now the Blatchington Mill School, but was different then. Did anyone know him by chance?

    By Carla Hills (01/02/2010)
  • Sorry Jim Duncan – yes, I would have been at Benfield then. Was one of the swimmers Jill Russell?

    By Paul Abbott (21/03/2010)
  • Jim, the swimming photo was taken when we won the cup, and Miss Hunt took us, Ann Simmons, Janet Scammell, Cathy Hodge and her brother, we were the best.

    By Diane Newnham (Roxbee) (30/05/2010)
  • Hi Jim/Paul, I’m Lee Gilbert, son of Tom Gilbert (second row, third in from the right). I can confirm from the old photographs that I have that this is indeed my late father. He actually died in 1989 aged 49 from cancer. I was only 18 at the time of his death so missed out on quite a lot of his childhood history! Many thanks for sharing this photo.

    By Lee Gilbert (19/07/2010)
  • I used to live at No. 47 Lincoln Road opposite the Townsends. They had one of the first TVs in Lincoln Road and us kids used to visit and watch Winnie the Pooh. I also went to Benfield School. Earlier this year I paid a visit to the school – it was closed that day but there were lots of memories. I liked the school dinners. Miss Beliphant (not sure of spelling) was my teacher. Kind Regards.

    By Heather Guinelly (nee Main) (18/08/2010)
  • Hi Jimmy Duncan, just clicked on to this sight so many different ones. I remember you and Ray Willard as I too went to Benfield School in the same class as you. Believe we all used to spend a lot of time down the rec, always getting into trouble for being late home for tea. You might remember me as the girl with the Great Dane. I now live in Venice, Italy, but not a patch on Brighton, Hove and Portslade. Great memories. Seem to know the name Paul Abbot as do Tony Clevett. Gill Russell was a good friend of mine but lost contact like so many old school friends. Love to hear from anybody who remembers me.

    By Yvonne Crowther Carratu (05/03/2011)
  • The Minister in the C. 1953 Life Boy photo is undoubtedly Rev. E.C.Starling. The Capt.Bert Streeter and the John Hackman. John was my youngest sister Joyce’s first husband. He used to be quite keen on gymnastics and on one or two occasions brought a team for a competition with the lads in the 2nd Southwick B.B. coy. based at the Seamans Mission. I was interested to see references to magic lantern shows at the Baptist Church. I think that in the mid thirties Pop Cobbold was responssible for a lot of lantern slide shows. He and others ran the several branches in the area. Pop was a man of many parts; he had part medical training, was a keen photographer and a good gymnast and club swinger.The C.F.L. ran a boys’ camp at Clayton based at an old barn. I went there a couple of times and have happy memories. The biggest drawback was having to sleep on a straw palliasse and as a result endure much discomfort from insect bites. Pop. spent much of his time trying to interest lads in the wonders of nature and hence to a relationship with The Creator. I wonder if the reference to a Mr Somebody Clements could be to Jimmy Clements who was the Sunday School Super for some time. He worked at the gas and lived at the corner of Franklin Rd and Norway St. Sorry cannot help with any other names in either of the photos.

    By Francis Marett (26/06/2011)
  • Hi – Bert Streeter was my father. I can name Phlip King top row far left, also Lleonard Eastwood in a white shirt next to David Streeter.

    By Susan Edwards (16/09/2011)
  • Hi Pat Finneran. As far as I can remember I lived at 21 East Street – trouble is the memory plays tricks on you! When did you move from Valley Road? I lived at 205. We were the last family to leave East Street – every house was empty and boarded up. My parents were having a problem with the Council getting us rehoused.

    By Elaine Wildblood (nee Clevett) (14/12/2011)
  • Hi Jim, Yes you are right about Richard (Plum) Smith. Unfortunately he died about three years ago. I didn’t know Tommy Gibert had died, but the I only saw him a couple of times after leaving school. I thought he went to Aussie on the “Big Brother” scheme. Tony Harris was in the front row as stated. I was at Benfield with them until 1951 and then at Portslade County School for Boys. Cheers

    By Bill Price (14/02/2013)
  • The Minister in the 1953 Life Boys photo was my father Rev. E C Kearsley?  Starling when the BB Company was based at Portslade Baptist Church in North Street Portslade. He was Minister at the Church from 1950-1974. My brothers Geoffrey and Richard were also members of the BB.

    By Sylvia Mepham (24/05/2013)
  • I would have said that the boy in the back row, at the righthand side of the Benfield swimming team photo, was Maurice Forrest, except that Maurice would have been born in the same time as me: 1949. As the facial likeness is so great, however, I would guess it must be an older brother.

    By Alan Phillips (11/09/2019)
  • Joan Constable, I remember you at the Mile Oak Girls School.

    By Bonny Cother (26/09/2020)

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