Little remains of the 18th century farm

The Waterhall estate of 737 acres was acquired by the corporation in April 1920, but only one house now remains from the late-eighteenth-century farm and hamlet in Waterhall Road. From the early 1950s until 1977 a large part of the valley was filled with ‘clean’ refuse and rubble, and several acres of playing fields have now been laid out on the large levelled area. {108,126,305}

Waterhall Mill is now more commonly known as Patcham Mill . A tower-mill built in 1884-5 for baker Joseph Harris, it was the last working windmill to be erected in Sussex and continued to grind corn until 1924; part of its machinery came from the old Preston Mill. It was sold for just £50 in 1928 and was converted into a house in 1936, but it was used by the Home Guard during the war before reverting to private use in 1950. The mill, which has a rendered tower forty feet tall, was completely modernised in 1975 with new sweeps, and is now a desirable residence and listed building. {44,250-253}

Waterhall Golf Club, which lies off Saddlescombe Road, was originally a private course laid out in 1922 {83} by a Mr Boddington who lived in the wooden clubhouse; it had nine holes in the valley with small greens and  narrow fairways to save labour. In 1934 the course was extended to eighteen holes, absorbing a nudist camp near the seventh green in the process. Two years later the corporation acquired most of the land as part of the West Blatchington estate, and the Waterhall course, which covers 131 acres and has a length of 5,615 yards, is now maintained as a municipal golf-course; the club itself is still private, however. {126,218,221}

Mill Road runs up the slopes of Coney Hill and Red Hill with a maximum gradient of 1:9. It was once just a narrow trackway, Mill Lane and Waterhall Road, (and retains the original narrow railway bridge) but the present fifty-foot-wide highway was formally opened by the Minister of Transport on 22 July 1932 at a cost of £37,000. The open spaces by Devil’s Dyke Road and on the Westdene side of Mill Road were once part of West Blatchington parish, but were annexed by Brighton in April 1928. {115,124}

Since 1989 the whole Waterhall area has been radically affected by the construction of the Brighton bypass. On 2 April 1989 Brighton Pavilion M.P. Julian Amery formally cut the first turf in the WaterhallValley. The dual three-lane section from London Road to the Devil’s Dyke Dyke Road is scheduled to be completed in 1991 and new playing fields have been laid out to compensate for those lost to the new road. Mill Road has been diverted, destroying much of the open space at the top of the hill, and will become a local road. Waterhall Road has also been diverted. {123}

Comments about this page

  • The windmill garden was open for teas at one time. I went there in 1957 with John Foster Forbes and some friends from the Brighton College of Arts and Crafts. Nice garden, nice tea and sandwiches.

    By Pat Benham (22/05/2008)
  • As a young professional footballer in the late 1970s Waterhall conjured up only one picture: Pain and torture. Messers Mullery, Aitkin, Gutteridge and sometimes Wilson had us running up that “Hill” until we dropped. Top players were physically sick in the pursuit of fitness. We had Chris Carter leading us on our cross country runs and God knows how most of us made it back. I do remember Graham Winstanley, Chris Cattlin and myself attempting to take a short cut one day only to be chased by a not very happy bull. It was Hell at Waterhall.

    By Paul Hubbard (28/10/2008)
  • I lived in the right hand side of this house as a teenager. My father worked on the farm as a tractor driver.

    By Sheila Williams (14/04/2009)
  • I lived at Waterhall Golf Club from 1947-54 as my parents were stewards there. We lived in the wooden house, and I walked to Patcham school each day. Always windy there, and we were cut off by snow at times. Not sure when the wooden house or the farm buildings went. Does anyone know ?

    By Avril Dean (27/04/2013)
  • The photograph of the Mill Road bridge by Tony Mould is entitled ‘Original Bridge.’ It is actually the bridge after modification, turning the round arch into it’s present-day square design. From 1947 I lived in the tea gardens at the bridge end of the four cottages on the lower end of Mill Road. This was called the ‘Rest-a-While tea gardens from before our time there. We left in 1955 when it still had that name. The bridge was the scene of frequent accidents and it was a common sight to see my mother taking trays of tea to support victims of these incidents. High-sided vehicles getting stuck under the bridge was a typical event and tyres would be let down to free them up. The lower part of Mill Road would flood most winters and this was an opportunity for me to float toy boats down the middle of the road. We kept a flock of forty ducks who occasionally escaped from their quarters and, as ducks do, waddled in tight formation to the end of the road and stood watching the changing traffic lights at the crossroads (now a roundabout). The tea gardens saw it’s share of celebrities coming regularly as customers: boxers of the day like Tommy Farr, tennis stars like Daphne ‘Gem’ Gilbert and scores of regular families who came year after year to enjoy Patcham Place with a tray of tea and cream scones from the tea gardens.

    By Ian Tracy (02/07/2014)
  • Further to the above contribution, the land below the area known as Waterhall was owned by the Water Board, as were the four cottages at the bottom of Mill Road (in earlier times they were called the Toll Gate houses). To the west of the railway line was a fine Victorian waterworks. Between the waterworks and the railway was an open municipal tip. This was the scene of many happy hours spent by this writer, scavenging amongst the rubbish, catching sloworms, spotting adders, building camps and generally getting exposed to any bugs lying around the tip. In today’s climate of obsessional cleanliness, puritanical health and safety laws and sun phobia this would indict my parents on grounds of neglect.The area between the railway and the London Road, an acre of which was our garden, was fairly swampy. This was in part due to sporadic risings of the underground river, the Wellesbourne, and to the drainage from Mill Road (the A27). To the west of the waterworks rises Sweet Hill where I picked blackberries sixty five years ago and still do today – and very good blackberries they are.


    By Ian Tracy (27/07/2014)
  • My great grandma was brought up on Waterhall farm. Did anyone know the Paveys when they were there? Early 1900s

    By Julia Johnson (02/07/2016)
  • Yes, my great grand parents lived there and my grandfather was born there in late 1880 onwards.

    By Derek Pavey (21/02/2017)
  • If Julia Johnson would like more information regarding the Pavey family she can contact me on:  I knew your grandmother Margaret Knight, she was my step-auntie as her brother George married my Mum.

    By Phyllis Latham (18/03/2017)
  • The 1911 Census shows my Great-Grandparents (Henry & Margery Capelin), plus some of their children and a great-grandchild, living at: ‘Waterhall Patcham, Preston, Sussex, England. Henry was described as a ‘Carter On Farm’ on the census return. I wonder if he worked at Waterhall Farm and the family lived in one of its ‘tied’ cottages?

    By Keith Bissex (23/03/2017)

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