Childhood memories

Photograph of The Clock Tower in Patcham

“Born during the war, I lived in Ladies Mile Road. From my bedroom I looked straight on to the Clock Tower and its surrounding triangle of grass.

In my childhood we all relied on the clock and were delighted when the floodlights were installed after the war, as I could then see the time when laying in bed.

All of the local buses stopped here.
During my early childhood I would spend time with the drivers and conductors of the number 15b buses which terminated at this point, before their return journey to Mile Oak.

I remember in 1947, the first new B & H District Bristol K bus purchased after the war, being tested on the number 5 route, standing at the Clock Tower with the chain around the platform to prevent passengers boarding.

From this point local organisations departed on their outings. The football team ‘Vale Rovers’ would hire a Southdown coach to take the team with supporters on a Saturday afternoon to away matches, at such venues as East Brighton Park, a journey of about 5 miles.

The Covenanters Group
I belonged to the ‘Covenanters’ group. We would assemble and cycle to such places as Hurstpierpoint, and also go to a ‘Sausage Sizzle’ on a Saturday summer evening on the land above the Patcham Tunnel vent shaft adjacent to Mill Hill.”

Comments about this page

  • It looks like a really peaceful place to live, but I know that it is not. I think that you should show more about what Patcham is really like; it’s loud and there are many kids around out and about causing trouble. I live a minute’s walk away from the clock tower. Please consider what I have said. Many thanks.

    By Sam (23/01/2006)
  • Patcham is a great place. I live seconds from the Clock Tower and have been there for 33 years. Of course kids hang around where they live, try and name one place they do not. Patcham is a friendly and warm place to live and the kids are great too.

    By Tina (07/03/2006)
  • This place is a brilliant place to live in, I love it. I was brought up here and I go to school here so don’t listen to any of these comments because my whole family and friends love this area. Just because there’s kids around here doesn’t mean it’s not a peaceful place because it is – and warming and like a cottage, warm and cosy.

    By Ali (03/04/2006)
  • I have lived in the Patcham area since 1988. It is a lovely area with friendly people. One of the best facilities is the local library with a modern computer suite. Youngsters hanging around were an issue but like most young people, they gained a poor reputation from a few bad apples. I think many communities have similar difficulties these days but, in general, I think it is still one of the better areas to live in.

    By Mike (09/12/2006)
  • I lived in Vale Avenue about 50 yards from the clock tower for 20 years until I got married in 1957. I was in the choir at All Saints Church from 1942 to 1952, my spare time was mainly spent with church activities during the week, which were organised by a very go ahead vicar named the Rev.SHP Ensor.

    By Maurice Wyatt (30/09/2007)
  • I was born in Mackie Avenue and went to Patcham Secondary School -and spent many many times standing by the clock tower waiting for my bus (5 & the 5b) with my friends Gillian Holden and Cherry Fryer. Sadly, Cherry died after being thrown from car, I think she was only 18. But mostly we walked home from school. When I was very young my brother told me a man lived in the clock tower as there was a small door in it. I believed this for a short while! The clock tower was a meeting place in the 1950s after school – so there were kids hanging around then. I was born in 1944- and left Patcham in 1964. But I like to pop up Mackie Avenue sometimes and wonder is anyone out there who remembered me. I went through Patcham school from 5 years old to 15 years -but hated it – as I was bullied by some teachers as well as some girls my age – names I won’t say—but last year I finally received a degree from Brighton University in Fine Art Painting – but still can’t spell. HaHa!
    Diane – if you have spelling problems – compose your comment in Word – which has a spell checker – and then copy and paste the text in here.  Thanks for your contribution.
    Jennifer (Web Editor)

    By Diane Campbell Watson (30/12/2007)
  • We watched our house at number 23 Craignair Avenue being built around 1931/32. I went to school in the old village on London Road. Then we were moved to Patcham Place – (see picture and comment there). After the completion of the new school I was there for a year until writing exams for Secondary School. Then took the long bike ride along Winfield Avenue to Patchdean, up Braybon Hill to Surrenden, Frairs Avenue to Ditchling, down Balfour to VarndeanGirlsSchool.
    At the start of the war we picked through the chalk and made an air raid shelter. My grandson was in Brighton last summer and took some pictures of the house which looks the same except the front hedge is gone. Neighbors I can remember were Burgess, Wellstead, Aldridge, Oram, Stockley, Copestake and Betty Wells at the top of the hill.

    By Rita (Bannister) Buckrell (10/02/2008)
  • Like Maurice Wyatt I was in the choir of PatchamChurch at the same time he was. Although his name rings a bell I can’t remember him although we must have shared many of the activities laid on by the Rev Ensor. Does anyone remember Holidays at Home weeks during the war? They were held on the school playing fields. There were swing boats, concert parties and displays by the fire service and others. I especially remember the miniature Southdown coaches that carried two passengers and the driver for trips around the field.

    By Graham Clarke (05/04/2008)
  • Hello, I’m trying to trace my grandfather Robert Hunter Cameron and step-uncle Ian Cameron who I believe lived at 2 Wilmington Close, Patcham in around 1938. I expect Ian would have gone to a local junior or secondary school. Does anyone have any memories of them? My grandfather was an architect.

    By Emma Cameron (23/02/2009)
  • To Diane Campbell Watson: I’m sure I ought to know you as I was born in 1944 and attended Patcham Junior and then Patcham Secondary for a year before I went to Cottesmore in Hove. I certainly remember the incident with Cherry Fryer. She had concussion but had been sent home from the hospital. When her father went to wake her the next morning she had died. Didn’t she have red hair? I was interested in your art degree. After a career teaching English and Drama, I recently went to Art College for five years and am now a practising artist. I do mainly collage and mixed media work. We lived in Old London Road. Did you know the Mustchins? I think they lived in Mackie Avenue. My name then was Una Mitchell and I have a brother John and sister Brenda. Perhaps we had some of the same teachers? I’m sorry to hear you were bullied at school. I love to hear news about Patcham but don’t go often as my husband and I ive in Rye.

    By Una Aldridge (22/08/2009)
  • I was born in Vale Avenue and was friends with Cherry Fryer. Yes, Cherry did have auburn hair. She was in my class at Patcham school. Some of the teachers were bullies, I can remember getting a whack on my leg and the imprint lasted for hours (can’t remember what it was for now, but would be considered trivial in comparison to what happens sometimes these days!). That’s something that wouldn’t be allowed to happen now. It’s lovely to read people’s memories of Patcham. I lived there until I married 45 years ago and have far too many to mention, apart from Bonfire nights! I recall going out in the dark with a friend, mainly over to the big bonfire behind Salmon’s shop, in the old village. The air all around was thick with smoke and the smell of fireworks, and there was no fear about walking in the dark for two young girls in those days. We also used to go up to the top of Vale Avenue (the cricket pitch) in the pitch black after it had been snowing and toboggan (on tin trays) down the banks there. Happy days!

    By Doreen Hancock (nee May) (24/10/2009)
  • I remember the Mustchins, I think she was Eleanor and did the Girl Guide Troop in Mackie Hall. I remember hiding in the yew trees around the Clock Tower, we had a club in the trees, we were so quiet – it was our secret club. I remember toboganning down the steep hills at the cricket pitch, what fun we had. I went to Marydene School with Miss Dix, Patcham Infants in Warmdene Road, Patcham Juniors with Mr Geerts, who is still around, Mr Lissamore, Miss Woodhouse, Miss Dunn. Then I went to Varndean which was so strict I hated it. I remember my dear friend Marion Sparks was hit by a car on the old A23 at Pyecombe and died, she lived in Highview Road about 1967. My friends from Patcham still keep in touch and meet every month.

    By Louise (10/11/2009)
  • This is my email to anyone who remembers me, Diane Jean Campbell Watson, at Patcham Secondary. I went from Infants to Senior August 1944, now 66 years - I didn’t use Campbell then. Some of the teachers’ names I remember – Miss Emerson – Miss Heart – Miss Tozer at the old school in the village, where Jennifer Dorsett got a rounders ball in her eye and had to wear a eye patch. It was a very bad injury and she was away from school for sometime. Mr Shepperd - Mr White – Mr Packham – Mr Taylor – Mr Man – Miss Smith – Mr Ingham. Just some I can remember. Oh yes - Mrs Ripely - Mrs Horsely – Mr Buddley and now just a few classmates’ names: Moreen Cat, David Bell, Gilliam Holden and my best lost friend Cherry Fryer – Susan Martin her close friend Doreen May – Kevin O’Hara – Paula Alphic – Lorrain Harding – and Dennis I think Collins whose father had the petrol station on the London Road behind the Old Village school road. There was a boy Thoroughgood and a boy Hutchings whose family went hop picking – Jean Walsh – Valerie Rainsford - Pamela Windham – Ann Smith - Christine Hazeldean. Well I think that’s all for now. Look forward from hearing from someone. I apologise if names spelling not quite right.

    By Diane Campbell Watson (23/08/2010)
  • I have memories of Patcham Infants School – 1946 til 1948 [when we moved]. I lived in Braeside Ave. and used to walk, with my friend Heather Jackson ,through a chalk pit as a shortcut to school! The headmistress was Miss Horsley and I remember having trouble with the 7x table and having to recite it to her!! At one time we had to attend school in Old Patcham – I don’t know why – in a school which had a flint-walled playground.. We enjoyed knocking the flints to make them spark! On the way home we sometimes bought orange icecubes for 1 penny from, I think, the back of a pub ? and at the top of the hill on the way home a lady sometimes sold toffee apples – those were the days!! Other names I remember [I’m 70 next year!!] are Jean Butterworth, Maurice Hole, Andrew Hillier and David Jenson [I had a secret pash on him!!]. I wonder if anyone reading this has similar memories!

    By Sarah Bailey (23/12/2010)
  • Hello Diane Campbell Watson. I lived in Mackie Avenue and knew Cherry and her brother Robin, they lived on the right hand side of MA past the tennis courts. I went to Patcham CSS and remember Mr. Ingham very well, he was a great Maths teacher. I am presently in my second year for Fine Arts Dip and have lived in Australia since 1970, but remember Patcham with great fondness.

    By Roy Prentice (11/02/2011)
  • My childhood memory of Patcham Clock Tower: I hung around down there on my bicycle with my friends in the early 1970s. It must have been unpleasant for people who lived around the clock tower but at that age we didn’t give it a thought. One evening an old man who was drunk came and sat on one of the benches up against the clock tower. He had a box of chocolates and offered us some but we didn’t want any as they were well battered and we thought he had probably dribbled on them or something. He was ranting away, I think he was asking about where the Chattri was but he would have been incapable of getting there. He then took out a razor blade and starting making many cuts on his arms (not wrists). We all moved away. A lady walking past came to see and sat next him and tried to get him to stop. Then the police arrived. I think they took him away. Happy times!

    By Cliff (11/01/2012)
  • Hello Roy, if my memory serves me right I was in the same class as you. I was at Patcham Sec from 1953 to Dec 1956. My last class teacher was Mr Packham, 4B. I also emigrated to Australia at Xmas 1971.

    By Brenda Patrick was Mells (10/04/2012)
  • I am constantly reading comments from people who came from Brighton and environs but wonder just where they are in Oz. Would be nice to know and possibly get together. John, Nambucca Heads, NSW.

    By John Wall VK2 (10/04/2012)
  • To Andy Rutherford, the first contributor to this page. Do remember me? We used to play together when I used to stay with your next door neighbour, my uncle who was Alec Caig the Patcham decorator. My father and uncle moved down from Scotland to work on the Mackie estate when first built and never went back.

    By Tony Caig (10/04/2012)
  • A note for Brenda Mells. I feel certain you’ll be sister to Jeanette with whom I attended Carden Scholl and was buddies with for quite a while. I was directed to Dorothy Stringer after Carden but kept up outings to the ice rink etc, through the summer holidays. I would have liked to continue my friendship at school with Jeanette by being chosen for Patcham however Patcham was just out of my catchment area. I know fate has its way of directing us onwards. In my experience MyB&H also has its way to turn fate into renewed and unexpected findings such as this. I admit I had forgotten Jeanette even had a sister but on seeing the name Mells here it jogged my memory about you also. I will have met you as we were always calling at each other’s home. I remember your parents too. My greetings to you all and trust you are all well. My excuses if I have drawn any wrong conclusions here. Best wishes

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (nee Baldwin) (12/04/2012)
  • Yes Sandra, my sister is Jeannette and she lives in Worthing. Should you wish to contact me my email is and in answer to John Wall – my husband and I now live at Wallaroo South Australia, which is northwest of Adelaide.

    By Brenda Mells (20/04/2012)
  • I remember all the teachers mentioned by Diane. Mr Inghah was my form teacher for my last year, 61/62. He was a great guy, scared the life out me at first, but he got me through the exams. Patcham was a great place, school fun, great sports teacher in Mr Mann and being mixed – the girls were ok too! [Cliff, we are no longer permitted to publish “where are they now?” type queries, so your posting has been edited. Best wishes, Editing Team] 

    By Cliff Marchant (07/09/2012)
  • Cliff, I was also at the Clock Tower at the time the drunk old man gave out chocs – wow that’s a memory I thought I had buried.

    By Paul Harmes (29/07/2013)
  • My family lived just up from the Clock Tower, we also went to Patcham Middle School. I remember Mr Ingram, Mr Tumner, Mrs Smith, Mr Welsh. The 70s were a great time to be growing up! Patcham seams a bit crowded nowadays!

    By David Stocken (06/10/2013)
  • Are you the son of Jim Stocken up Mackie Ave Dave?

    By Ron Edmonds (07/10/2013)
  • Yes, hi Ron!

    By Dstocken (08/10/2013)
  • Brenda Mells and Roy Prentice were in the same class as I was. I left at Christmas 1956 and started work at Bellmans in London Road. Today I sent the last form picture we had taken – I remember quite a few names from our class. I’m sure you will know most of them too. Regards to all

    By Mary T Smith nee Gillespie (27/10/2013)
  • I’v great memories of the clock.We used to play off ground he (tag) waiting for the 5 or 5B bus. I’m not sure if the concrete kerb we used to jump on still exists but the then small golden yew tree on the corner nearest the shops is still there although about 3 times as big now. We used to dare one another to put the berries in our mouths and spit out the seeds. Once or twice we found the iron door to the clock had been left open and we would climb the iron ladder up to top an try look out of the tiny slit windows. A bit older, we also used to torment the bus drivers using the loo by the pub by placing crisp bags full of water on top of the door. I well remember screaming with laughter being chased down the twitten to the park by an infuriated bus conductor. Oh the joy of youth.

    By John Ridgewell (11/11/2014)
  • I was at Patcham Junior until 1970 then left to go to music school. Somebody here also remembers Mr Tumner, who taught music and was in a fairly well know folk band. He was quite a dishy young teacher and we 9 year old girls rather fancied him. I had a very embarrassing moment in a very long music assembly: all our recorders were at our feet and I wet myself something awful which of course created a puddle all over the surrounding recorders. My memory is of a load of them floating away on a torrent of wee like logs on a river but of course that is probably a bit exaggerated. I was only a very tiny girl.

    By Susie Meszaros (04/08/2015)
  • Does anybody remember a girl called Yvonne Ashley? She lived on Vale Ave for a time in the 60’s I went to Patcham Junior school with her in the early 60’s.



    By John Hutchings (13/11/2016)
  • I lived on the corner of Ladies Mile Rd and Warmdene Rd from 1950 to 1970, so a short walk to school. We could buy single Dairylea cream cheese triangles at ‘Tommys’ sweet shop. The infants teacher Miss Wennel taught us to swim in the hall, practising the breast stroke by laying across chairs. The headmistress Miss Horsley took country dancing and used to call out “Heel and toe, and one two three”. I fell deeply in love with Janet Trusler when I was in Patcham Juniors, (sigh). We had some lessons in the old school and there was a barrage balloon and anti-aircraft gun concrete emplacement in the playing field and still swastikas painted on a classroom wall, presumably recording their successes. We all met at the clock tower on our bikes before going scrumping or over the ‘Ups and Downs’ (a bomb crater?) behind Salmons sweet shop in the old village, or whatever. At the main school there was a pupil, Corinne I think, who was a dinner monitor who made me stay until I’d finished my fatty cold lamb stew with pearl barley floating about in it. I threw it up outside and have never eaten lamb or stew since. The Mustchins lived up Braeside Ave, Pam and her younger sister. I think her parents used to be something to do with the Girl Guides. Pam married Mick (Alfie) Burr and are still local.

    By Neville Bolding (06/03/2017)
  • I am Ken cross ,I went to Patcham and Varndean,I remember the mustchins and Neville Bolding.I have lived in australia for over 50 years and would be overjoyed to hear from anybody .my email address is

    By Ken Cross (29/04/2020)

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