Back to my roots

Plymouth Avenue commemorates the post-war volunteer labourers who built their own houses. Sam Carroll's uncle was one of them." alt="The plaque on the wall in Plymouth Avenue commemorates the post-war volunteer labourers who built their own houses. Sam Carroll's uncle was one of them. | Photos taken by Sam Carroll" />
The plaque on the wall in Plymouth Avenue commemorates the post-war volunteer labourers who built their own houses. Sam Carroll's uncle was one of them.
Photos taken by Sam Carroll

I grew up in Hornby Rd, close to our relatives, just around the corner. We moved away from Bevendean in the late seventies.

In 1997 I found myself with the opportunity of joining the Hedgehog self build co-operative. We were late to join and land had already been bought to build on. When I found out where it was, I was very amused. Bevendean! Going back to my roots? I hadn’t got far, had I?

We now live in our lovely house with another nine families in their adjacent homes and I am reminded what I love about Bevendean: the fresh air, the country walks, the wildlife, seeing grazing animals from the window, the glorious sunsets and distant views of the Isle of Wight. It’s like being in the countryside but still on the main bus route into the centre of Brighton.

Comments about this page

  • Brilliant to see photos of the new scheme and the old one too! I am currently trying to do a project on the history of a similar scheme in Reading that I believe was in contact with the first Bevendean Project – very little information apart from primary sources. Thanks for this little bit more. If Sam Carroll or anyone else has any further information or available links for information on the first post-war Bevendean Housing Project or any other post-war housing projects – I would be grateful for any help.

    By Emma Williams (07/09/2003)
  • Hello there, I have been living in Bevendean for a year and yesterday, my partner, our three-year-old son and I went wondering towards Norwich Drive. I recently met someone who told me about these self-built-grass-on-the-roof houses. We were really amazed to find something like that in Bevendean as everyone in Brighton seems to think that Bevendean is a run-down, dull and deprived area. So far we have been very happy here, the western skies are the best I have ever seen, and only now do I begin to understand Constable’s fascination for the English cloud. We are very curious about the Hedgehog Co-operative and have many questions for whoever would have the time to answer them. We live on Lower Bevendean Avenue and the only thing we regret about the place is the apparent lack of community. It is perhaps only an appearance but, for the outsider, the closed-down shops of the avenue give a grim look to the place. We would love to meet someone who is ready to tell us about the place as it is.

    By Mmedo Duffort (14/08/2005)
  • The house on the corner looks like my ex-best friend’s house when I was younger – about 27 yrs ago. Her name was Michelle Simmonds.

    By Bridget (04/07/2006)
  • It’s so nice to see other people that have relatives that still live in Plymouth Avenue. My grandad built one of the houses in Plymouth Avenue who lived in it with my granny and bought my dad up who lived in it after they died. I now live here with my two brothers. It’s a lovely road to live, with fantastic views. There are still neighbours that are from the original families.

    By Hannah Leigh (04/11/2007)
  • Great photo. If I had a pound for every time I’ve walked passed that plaque. Born and bred in Fitch Drive, well almost, I was six months old when my dad and the other men on the selfbuild scheme finished the house and I’m back there now aged 41. I have some pics somewhere of all the men on the Fitch Drive self build and a pic of Councilor Fitch digging first part of the footing. I will try and find them and put them on here. Bevendean has declined over the years slightly, with the council estates being filled with some undesireables, but mostly nice families and only the odd few wallies. It’s still a lovely friendly place to live.

    By Andy Crook (04/01/2011)
  • Lower Bevendean was the place I spent my childhood. I lived at Walmer Crescent. The house was newly built in 1951. Councillor Fitch features in one of my photos on this site. We used to walk over the hill, past Plymouth Avenue, to a track in between, to get to Elm Grove or the Race Hill. In that area it was just a muddy path leading to stables where I, when I could get 2/6, rode a horse called Timber. I understand it is all built on now. Please do put the pictures on, I would be most interested.

    By Jennifer Tonks (20/06/2011)
  • My uncle, John Doyle, was one of the members/builders of the Plymouth Avenue scheme and is duly mentioned on the plaque. He lived at number 69 with his wife, Sheila, until May 1953. My parents then bought the house and my father moved in in late May 1953, just after I was born. The Doyles, along with 2 of their eventual 7 children, John and Maureen, emigrated to Australia. My siblings, Lynn and David Tiffin were born at home there and my parents sold the house in 1992. During the 50′ & 60’s, there were fields behind Plymouth Avenue and I spent many happy hours in the bushes and camps below ‘Shady Lane’. In due course, I will convert some old pictures to jpeg to share – there are many!

    By Elaine Tiffin (11/02/2012)
  • I have only been in Bevendean 19 months and would love to see old pictures of it somewhere?

    Editor’s note: In the James Gray Collection of photographs there are some of Bevendean in Album 28.

    By Gillian Elliott (25/03/2012)
  • The corner house in the photo is no. 57 – my childhood home, from when it was built until 1970 or thereabouts. At the time, residents were Waller at no 55, Hardcastle at no 57, Leigh at no 59, Harwood at no 61, Spalding at no 67 and Tiffin at no 69. Can’t remember any others!

    By Peter Hardcastle (04/09/2012)
  • Dear Sam. Do you still live at the Hedgehog Co-op? I am writing about the benefits of community and self build housing, but it’s impossible to contact anyone from the Co-op to give me their point of view. Could you spare a few minutes to answer some questions on your experience? Many thanks

    By Stefan Batorijs (02/04/2014)

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