'Moulsecoomb Memories'

Cover of the QueenSpark book: Moulsecoomb Memories

Below is an extract from ‘Moulsecoomb Memories’ by Sheila Winter. This is a personal history depicting the growth of North Moulsecoomb through the reminiscences of the author who was born, raised and married there during the years 1929 to 1950. The book is published by QueenSpark Books , Brighton and Hove’s community publisher. Extracts from more QueenSpark Books are published on their website .

“Despite the poverty of the day the ladies of Moulsecoomb never let it worry them, not in front of others. They did their worrying and weeping behind closed doors.

Any excuse for a bit of a knees-up, there was always some refreshment prepared by the ladies and a lot of speculation as to who was going to win the election. When the results came through there were the usual moans and the usual cheers.

Everyone discussed the merits and the shortcomings of the various councillors. As it is now, so it was then. Whichever party was elected, the rich got richer and the poor stayed just as they were.”

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  • It was during the WWII years and the ground froze in the middle of winter at Moulsecoomb, as it did in many other parts of the UK. With little food, freezing cold houses that had ill-fitting sash windows which let in the slightest draught, and the coalman extremely hard pressed to get his loads delivered to many parts because of the frozen surfaces, something had to be done …. Many couldn’t afford the cost of extra coal deliveries anyway. It was bitter, with ice everywhere. There had been a temporary break in the temperature with a momentary splash of rain, and then it all froze over again, making conditions even worse. Together with a considerable number of others, Jack Spicer headed into the woods just up the road on the other side of the railway arch where further groups of people were busy collecting what dead wood could be found as well as sawing down a fair sized sapling or two which they proceeded to tow home on the end of ropes. Whole families were at it. Matters were desperate. I was there too! We got a couple of saplings almost too big and heavy to drag home and took a fair time managing the process, despite the fact that the frozen surface assisted the operation. Home, busy sawing and chopping, the mood was quite jolly for a change. There must have been many with the same frame of mind. Then the news rapidly spread. The police were investigating, even though we were all so desperate for warmth. Dad Jack worked as quickly as possible, as did many likewise, and got the wood sawn into handy sizes to stow away, down the bottom of the garden behind the old grass bank and under the concrete slab in the larder with anything stacked in front of it. With the evidence hopefully safe from prying eyes we kept the fire low on wood burning and waited for the knock on the door. It never came but others weren’t so fortunate, possibly due to the open storing of the evidence as well as bad luck. Prosecutions followed and the whole neighbourhood was highly indignant at what was deemed to be the utter stupidity of the law. Isn’t it funny, although such a procedure occurred, nobody seemed to hold a grudge against the local bobby, Ted Hyams. I suppose the assumption was that he was acting under orders. I don’t remember the punishments handed out but I know guilty(!) decisions were made. Today we’re much better off so it’s speedmeters!

    By Ron Spicer (06/07/2008)
  • Hi Ron. I would love to hear any more stories you have. I loved this.

    By Ruby (14/04/2009)
  • Hi Ron, that report was so true – I can relate to most of that, but I would just like to add to the story. In my case the Wild Park was a good place to get food; rabbit pie was very popular with my neighbours, and the railway line behind Ringmer Road was good for collecting coal. Best regards David Best.

    By David Best (18/11/2009)
  • My Dad’s family lived in Chailey Road in Moulsecoomb in the 30s, 40s and 50s. As a child, bought up in the 50s after WW11, I remember the stories, both of sharing (as no-one had anything much) and of rabbit hunting in Wild Park as there was little to eat.

    By Jan Reeves (13/02/2010)
  • Hi Jan – Rabbit hunting in the Wild Park wasn’t very rewarding most of the time. Too many at it I s’pose! Bevendean above North Moulsecoomb, up past the dew pond and over the hill was the best spot. They bred like rabbits so there was an ongoing supply! I’ve related elsewhere in the Moulsecoomb entries quite a number of matters about the times, including a red monoplane landing regularly on the large open grass covered area way over the top of that hill, and where there were fish and fruit dumps.

    By Ron Spicer (16/02/2010)
  • I lived in Birdham Road for the first 21 years of my life. I loved playing there and was very happy. I remember the neighbours Mr Holes and Mrs Judge and the Wearings, Banburys, Pellets, Hannons and Jenny Scott my best friend for years. I married a Lewes boy and lived there for 5 years. My dad was Patrick Bettany. I rememeber my school which I enjoyed and my first real boyfriend Roger Elliott, nickname ‘Gig’. And also Christopher Pepkin who lived in the highway who I believe became a policeman. Happy days. I’m glad for them.

    By Patricia Bettany (21/03/2010)
  • Hi Pat, you won’t remember me but myself and my sister Marilyn have fondest memories of Birdham Road. My Nan lived at no 86 which I think was a couple of doors from your house, her name was Pay. I remember going to Mrs Wearing’s house every week to watch Champion the Wonder Horse as she was one of the first to have a television. Am I correct in thinking you had a brother Terry who along with myself and Ken Wakefield all rode scooters together back in the 60s? I also spent 16 years working with Terry for Brighton Borough Council at Whitehawk Estate. Happy times.

    By David Moore (30/08/2010)
  • Would anyone be interested in a dedicated Moulsecoomb Facebook group where we could catch up with old firends and post photographs? I’d be interested in your feedback, email me on: moulsecoomb@hotmail.co.uk

    Editor’s note: A Face Book group sounds good Kevin. But – please remember everyone that it is VERY easy to post photos here. Website visitor numbers are an average of 1,500 per day – so just think of the potential coverage. It would be a real shame if photos and comments were not shown here as well. There are other Brighton areas on the site that have many more photos – Moulsecoomb is behind on the photo memories stakes. So come on you Moulsecoobers – let’s see those photos. If you are not very computer savvy – then just email them to me and I will publish them for you. Now how about that for an offer you can’t refuse? Mail me: jennifer@mybrightonandhove.org.uk

    By Kevin Ahronson (17/04/2011)
  • I remember my dad stayed there when we travelled from Scotland in the summer. I loved it, it was such a happy time for me a lot of good memories. I still miss the place and still have family there. I used to love playing in the street after you had your bath with your pyjamas on in the summer nights. I really need to go back for a visit, only problem, I never wanted to leave so I might not this time lol.

    By Sandra Mcjimpsey (14/06/2011)
  • I don’t have pictures of the 50s but I have the strongest memories. Whilst not concentrating on then and now, just rejoicing in a 50s’ community and the important part played by the people and the wonderful environment, which is often overlooked now. My home town had some truly remarkable characters, some possibly a little eccentric, but it wouldn’t have been the same without them. In the 50s it was the seafront that was a major player and the draw card to the town’s wealth. Trains arriving from the ‘big smoke’ (it only took four minutes from London according to the telly) on a very frequent basis, bringing the day trippers and their money. The B&Bs were full and it could be said (with some considerable truth) it was possibly the town where the expression ‘a dirty weekend’ came from. My mother could be possibly described as one of those eccentrics, she ran a flower stall on the now ‘wrecked’ West Pier. During her lunch time she would earn a few extra pennies by diving from the landing stage into a large girder-surrounded lagoon where the paddle steamers tied up. It was during this time she met my father, the rest, as they say, is history. I loved Brighton, it was a fabulous place to be born. It occurred to me whilst writing this message it wasn’t really the town that made it so great, it was the community I was raised in. People knew and cared for each other, they had time for each other, they shared the good times and helped out during the woes. When someone was ill or had problems, they had neighbours who were genuinely concerned and went the extra mile – or several. I was often asked (told) by Mum to run to the local shop for an item for a neighbour who was unable to go out. I wonder how much a child would need to be paid to do the same thing now, or if a parent would even allow a young child to visit a shop unaccompanied by an adult? They were happy days, and in my memory they are joyously celebrated. I shared in something that was extra special and I am thankful for the experience, in many ways I feel sorry for today’s generation as I fear they will never experience the community spirit of those early years. However, the cynic in me questions whether today’s generation could handle the times when threepence in your pocket made you the envy of friends. Oh happy days.

    By Robin Hutchinson (18/08/2011)
  • Were they good memories or just nostalgic? I don’t think it was any safer then, I was born in Ringmer road and l left when I got married at 21. Trying to remember some names starting at the bottom. Twins or maybe triplets below newick on the right. Then cowboy Pete, Webs were opposite the lane as were Deans, Bulldocks, Boxalls, Clarke, Best, Betty Harris, Hulls, Sands, Long, Penfold, Clayton, O’Brien, Carrol, Bonner, Jennings, and Jim Lish, he had a club foot.and finally  Mr Chumney to name a few. The old boy on the bike who used to collect horse manure from Jo Atterall’s horse. Weavers somewhere there, Upton, he had the large garden between Ringmer and Chaily. Hopscotch, kerbsy ball, hoops, tree climbing. No one had any money Wolven brought one of the first concil houses in Balcome Road and Burgess in Chaily just up from where Hargis brought theirs. Tippins were up chaily somewhere as were the Standens and tugwells and Andrew and Linda Ray and their younger brother. The Eatons (he was a fire chief I seem to remember) lived in Ringmer as did Barbara Dean and the Swallows a long way over near the dump.

    By Mitch (08/10/2012)
  • I was born in Ringmer Road in 1952. Left it in 1973 when I joined the Army. I went to Moulsecomb Infants & Juniors and Stanmer Seniors. I remember Pat Bettany and she was inseparable from Jennifer Scott. I thought they were joined at the hip at times. I remember most of the people you have mentioned Mitch. I loved Moulsecoomb, still proud that my roots are from there. I have just one question. What have they done to Brighton? It is a horrible place to visit now where buses and cycles get priority and cars are just not welcome. Hopefully I will keep to the nostalgia, it’s far better than the present in my eyes.

    By Ivor WIlliams (19/07/2013)
  • Anyone remember June Best or the Pratt family from Ringmer Road? My sister, Sylvia (Taylor), who now lives in Oz has asked me if anyone knows them.

    By Ivor Williams (28/07/2013)
  • Ivor Williams, do you remember me? Linda from Ringmer Road, No.43.  I forgot my cookery one time and you took me on your scooter to get it. We used to be friends. I think you were a little bit older than me and I’m sure I remember you escorting me to Moulsecoomb Infant School. You had a sister named Gloria. I sadly remember what happened to her. I would love to hear from you.

    By Linda P (27/02/2015)
  • Hello to you all. I lived in Moulsecoombe from 1953 to 1967 went all through Moulsecoombe school infants to seniors. I lived at 55 Ringmer Road and then moved down to Barcoombe Road. I loved those days and would go back now if I could.

    By Moya Golds (05/11/2015)
  • So good to read all these comments, certainly brings back lovely memories, and through this media I have now been in contact with my school friend Sylvia Taylor. Happy days.

    By June Stenning (08/09/2016)

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