East Brighton Park and Sheepcote Valley

East Brighton Park
Photo by Tony Mould
Whitehawk Caravan Club
Photo by Tony Mould
This photographic print shows the Recreation Hall of the Municipal Camping and Caravan Ground in Sheepcote Valley, Brighton. A number of caravans can be seen surrounding the hall. This photograph was produced by the Borough Surveyor's department. It was presumably taken as a record of the camp site's facilities. The site had opened on 14 May 1938, just one year before this photograph was taken. It was the first local authority owned camp site in Britain. It used a number of buildings that had previously been part of Newhouse Farm. The Recreation Hall was developed from an original flint barn.
Reproduced courtesy of Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

d) EAST BRIGHTON PARK and SHEEPCOTE VALLEY: Whitehawk has the advantage of lying between the open spaces of the Race Hill and East Brighton Park off Wilson Avenue. Covering 60.67 acres in the Black Rock Valley, the land occupied by East Brighton Park was acquired by the corporation in September 1913 as part of the East Brighton estate of 1,065 acres, then part of Ovingdean parish. The southernmost part alongside Roedean Road was once the playing field of the forerunner of Roedean School and was later used by East Brighton Golf Club, but in 1925 the park was excavated, levelled, and laid out with ornamental plantings, tennis courts, football pitches and a cricket square. From September 1923 about twenty-five acres were leased to Brighton College, but financial problems caused much of this area to be returned and in 1947 the Enclosed Football Ground, the home of Whitehawk Football Club (see below), was hedged in on part of the former college playing fields. A large children’s playground was constructed in 1987. {126,204,208,305}
To the north of the park lies the Municipal Camping and Caravan Ground, the first municipal ground in the country, which was opened by the mayor, Herbert Hone, on 14 May 1938. It incorporates the buildings of the former Newhouse Farm; the farmhouse is used as the warden’s residence, the flint barn as a hall, and the stables as a toilet block; they probably date from the late eighteenth century. However, the caravan park is to close by March 1991 to make way for a large leisure development. {108,123,124,126}
The northern part of the Black Rock Valley is known as Sheepcote Valley, and from the 1870s was the site of a rifle-range laid out for volunteer soldiers, giving the former Rifle Butt Road its name. In 1916 the tipping of scavengings commenced, and in 1928 household refuse from Rottingdean was dumped at Sheepcote; in 1952 large scale tipping by Brighton Corporation commenced and continued until April 1982. The valley has now been significantly filled and levelled for use as playing fields, but a ‘household waste site’ remains for bulky household rubbish. A golf driving-range was operated in 1982-4, but the whole area is scheduled for a large leisure development including dry ski-slopes, a boating lake, riding stables, a sports hall, a wildlife park, a hotel and a swimming-pool. In about 1968 the desolate area was used as a battlefield in the filming of Oh!What a Lovely War.{114,123}

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • In the Bennet Road section of this wonderful website several people mention the military vehicles that were dumped at the Sheepcote Valley tip. During the early 1950s a scrap metal comany were breaking up military vehicles at the tip. Most of these were of American vintage and were being brought back from the continent for disposal. It became a regular sight to see giant “Diamond T’s” load loaders carryting a vast array of trucks that today would make the military vehicle restoration worlds mouths water. There were lines of Jeeps, Diamond T’s, one tonners, half tracks, Sherman tanks and other various armoured vehicles etc. The breakers area was at the soutern most edge of the tip near to the two football pitches that were located between the tip and the camping ground. As can be imagined the derelict vehicles were a magnet to us local kids. I often wonder whether all of the trucks were actually destroyed or were some buried complete as the tip encroached. Maybe in the future a “Time Team Special” in the year 3060 may uncover these relics of a past century. Best Regards to all Whitehawkers and Manor Farmites.

    By Vic Lander (02/08/2009)
  • Hello Brightonians. Does anyone have any memories of Sheepcote Valley from the 1963-1970s?

    By Lee Rolf (13/12/2011)
  • I clearly remember the filming of OWALW at Sheepcote in early 1968. At the time I was conducting the Number 3 bus that turned around near the top of Wilson Avenue, and the ground landscaped as Somme trenches was clearly visible. In retrospect I wonder if filming there must have been pretty unpleasant given that garbage had been dumped into the ground there for years. Visited the valley during summer ’10, after a gap of many years, whilst touring the south coast and was pleasantly surprised how the area has been tidied up. My dog thoroughly enjoyed it too!

    By Len Liechti (13/12/2011)
  • Hi Ken. You mentioned that you worked on the number 31 bus at the time. Did you  also work as a conductor on the bus route via Linttot Avenue, Wiston Road, Whitehawke from 1963-1969?

    By Lee Rolf (16/12/2011)
  • Hello Brightonians. Does anyone have any memories of Sheepcote Valley from the 1963-1970s? Or photographs! Please send to lrolf9@me.com Hi Len You mentioned that you worked on the number 31 bus at the time. Did you also work as a conductor on the bus route via Linttot Avenue, Wiston Road, Whitehawk from 1963-1969? lrolf9@me.com

    By Lee Rolf (23/10/2012)
  • Hi all.  I remember Sheepcote Valley when it was a campsite.  The park warden was Ernie Williams and both his daughters went to junior schools in Whitehawk. Patricia Williams was my friend and we would spend lots of times playing on the site and in their house, her older sister was Pamela. Lots of happy memories.

    By Wendy Lawrence (nee Dawson) (01/06/2013)
  • If anyone is interested, I lived in a caravan at Sheepcote Valley from 1945 until 1954. I have photographs from that time and although I live in Canada, am still in touch with friends who also lived there at that time, in an adjoining caravan.   

    By Mary Lowry (10/01/2016)
  • Hi Mary.  Yes, I would like to see your photos of Sheepcote please. My email address is: lrolf9@me.com  Thank you.

    By Lee Rolf (04/04/2016)
  • Hi Mary, I would love to see your photos, as well as any you may have of the surrounding area. I lived in Wiston Close from 1947 to 1958. I particularly would be interested in any photos of Whitehawk, the prefabs, Wilson Ave, Blackrock Lido, Sheepcote valley dump etc. My email is eric.cristina (at) yahoo (dot) com (I’ve written it like that to foil the bots that scan sites like this). Look forward to seeing the photos. Thanks

    By Eric Cook (05/04/2016)

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