Did you know? - Interesting Facts

First public park
Preston Park was Brighton’s first public park and remains its largest park. It has numerous football pitches, tennis courts, bowlings greens, a cycling track and a cricket pitch, and is the scene for festivals and popular events.

Leviathan of the turf
The money to buy Preston Park came from a bequest by local bookmaker Billy Davies. A legendary figure in racing circles, he was known as the Leviathan of the Turf, because he would not refuse even the heaviest of bets and always paid out winnings promptly.

Garden for the blind
In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation year, a scented garden was laid out in Preston Park to the south side of Preston Manor. It was a gift to the blind from the Corporation and included a shelter (from the butchers), a round table (from the Round Table) and a dove cot (from the mayor) with barbary doves to ‘coo at the people using the garden.’

Gardens of greeting
Since the 1950s the flower beds alongside Preston Road have been used as ‘Gardens of Greeting: the planting scheme for each bed is designed by another town’s Park’s Department, in a competition to welcome visitors to Brighton.

Used as allotments
During World War Two, much of Preston Park was dug up and used as allotments to produce much needed food.

Comments about this page

  • An interesting page, but it seems no-one knows that there is (or was) a Peace Mile route, which was measured and marked out with triangular markers to indicate the route. Most of these markers were sadly vandalised, and the City Council doesn’t appear to have any record of the route. Do any of you out there know of this route? It did start at the southernmost tip of the park. I would love to know.

    By Pete Thompson (05/03/2004)
  • Hello! I am a teacher, and when I was preparing a lesson, I came across Preston Park in a cartoon. I did not know it at all and I was happy to find your site. I printed some pictures from it and I hope that my 11 to 12-year-old pupils will be happy…thanks a lot!

    By Murielle (25/03/2004)
  • I’ve recently started training to run the London Marathon and in order to calibrate my pedometer, I decided to run the Peace Mile in Preston Park. I was disappointed to see that most of the markers are now missing. I think I remember the route which did indeed start at the southern end. I remember it winding its way between the bowling green and the children’s play area, and then northwards past the cafe. Once reaching the church, it returns southward on the road that runs parallel to London Road. Disappointingly, if I follow this route, my pedometer reads a mere 0.8 mile. Is it my memory or my pedometer that is faulty?

    By Tony Walton (27/08/2005)
  • Hi Tony. I run in Preston Park a lot. I think that the perimeter is 2k (not including the cycle track).

    By Richard Hill (09/09/2005)
  • Does anyone remember polo being played in the park, parallel with the main road opposite Lovers Walk? Also I have memories of a large agricultural show being held there, could have been prior to 1930. Can anyone confirm?

    By Peter Clark (07/05/2007)

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