A potted history
This suburb of Brighton and Hove has an impressive history. Its name is largely unaltered from the Old English for Muls Valley (Mul was a Saxon nobleman). Moulsecoomb Place is the oldest non-secular building in Brighton.
Until the 1920s, the area was open downland with the valley bottom sheltering a string of nurseries (Bates) and market gardens (Woolards). The land was aquired by the borough in a ‘land grab’ in 1922. Land in the south of Falmer parish was transferred, and the estate of Moulescoomb was developed from 1924.
A garden city
The scheme was in the form of a garden city with winding roads, large grass verges, and big gardens. It was intended to fulfil the then current exhortation to provide “homes fit for heroes”. In South Moulsecoomb, the earliest buildings were effectively an adjunct to the existing housing opposite Preston barracks, but the later extensions of North and then East Moulsecoomb took the estate out into relatively remote countryside.
A social experiment
The development was an attempt by the borough to rehouse families from some of the appalling slums that existed in inner-city Brighton. As a social experiment, it was only partially successful. The families which were moved there worked four miles away in Brighton; buses were infrequent and expensive, and few families had the wherewithal to fully furnish their new and large homes.
Post war problems
Apart from post-war building on the Bates Nursery and on a small private estate near Woolards Field, the estate is a classic of local authority development. Moulsecoomb has experienced problems akin to those in other resort fringes: high unemployment, seasonal labour, run-down facilities and some drug and driving related crimes. Many of these difficulties are being addressed with regeneration budgets aimed at alleviating some of the long standing problems, on what is termed, in the social geography books, a “peripheral estate”.