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Childhood memories of 1950/60s

Woodingdean prefab estate 1953
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Newly built houses in 1957

I lived in Woodingdean from 1954 till 1968. We first lived in a prefab at 14 Rudyard Road, and then moved in 1957 to 67 Sandhurst Avenue, when the houses were just built. I went to Woodingdean School where the head was Major Haggard. A few years later, I was in the same class as his son, John, at Westlain School. My last teacher in Woodingdean was Mr Betts, a great teacher.

Remember ‘Pop’ Hemsley?

I remember other teachers: Mrs Stanger, Miss Novaski, Mr Collins who ran the athletics team of which I was a member in 1961, and of course ‘Pop’ Hemsley. I thought Woodingdean was a great school. We did woodwork, gardening and at lunch times ran errands for teachers, mainly to buy cigarettes for them; imagine that now!

Do you have any Woodingdean memories to share? Please leave a comment below.

Bad winter of 1963

I also remember the terrible winter of 1963 when Woodingdean was cut off by deep snow for days. In Bexhill Road the snow reached the tops of the lampposts. I also had to walk over the Downs to Westlain School that winter, as there were no buses. And what about the great smell from the Sunblest factory at the corner of Bexhill Road, does anyone remember that?

Very happy days

One thing which I haven’t seen mentioned was that down the lane past Woodingdean School, was a disused swimming pool, this was in the late 1950s. But the controls were still operational and I remember going there after school with some mates and turning on the water, great fun! We also used to go to the dew ponds and walk over to Newmarket Copse. They were very happy days.

Comments about this page

  • My Aunt Grace and husband Ben Billinness used to live about halfway up the road on the left with daughter Vera and son Ernie.  I believe Ben built the bungalow himself in the late 30s.  All have since passed away but would appreciate any memories.

    Vera and Ernie were my 1st cousins. Grace had a sister Florence Snelling and a brother Ebenezer. Charles (Charlie) was my dad.

    By John Snelling (11/01/2015)
  • From 1956 -1966 I lived in Woodingdean in Millyard Crescent but spent many a summer before that with my cousins Pat and Janice Taylor who lived in the prefabs in Kipling Avenue before they moved to the new houses in Cowley Drive, South Woodingdean.

    Thanks for posting, Dave, as it brings back many memories of summers on the Downs, the dew ponds which I’d forgotten about and the walks. I knew your sister, Jane. Played in Woodingdean School netball team with her.

    By Linda Brooks (16/09/2018)
  • Does anyone remember the “dump”off Rudyard Road?

    By Tony Wilson (24/09/2018)
  • Hello Tony, I do remember the dump and the fun we had with you and your brother Peter.
    It all seems a long time ago now but fond memories of our lives in the prefabs.

    By Malc Latham (01/10/2019)
  • The Billinnesses lived next door to us. Roseberry Avenue?

    By Ian Taylor (18/01/2020)
  • My name was Rosalind Sullivan and I lived at 26 Lockwood Crescent in a prefab,I moved there from London in 1952.Moved to Bexhill Road when the new houses were built.I went to Fitzherbert School and left there to go to work in 1957.My two friends when I lived in the prefab were Margaret Latham and Margaret Borley.I remember the winter of 1963 I was working in Hove and couldn’t get to work for a couple of weeks no, buses.

    By Rosalind Hughes (29/04/2020)
  • Hi Rosalind Hughes, my cousin’s lived in Lockwood Crescent around the early 50’s. They were Pauline Latham & Yvonne Latham known to us as Bubbles due to her curly hair. Just wondered if the Margaret Latham you mentioned was actually one of them as have no knowledge of a Margaret in the Latham family. We lived in Rudyard road and then moved to Bexhill. My name was Edith (Edie) Latham.

    By Edith Scott nee Latham (02/09/2020)
  • I lived in Downs Valley Road and went to Woodingdean CP School.left to go to Varndean in 1959 after having won the Cup and League in season 58/59.I too remember the team members.I played on the left wing with Malcolm Latham just behind me,I also played Widow Twankey in the school pantomimeThank you Mr Sales!
    Good staff,lovely friendly place in which to live,
    Keith Rundell.

    By Keith Rundell (26/03/2021)
  • Hi Edith, I am sorry my friends were Pauline and Yvonne. I have remembered now my friend who was Margaret her surname was Boley. That’s the trouble with getting old lol. Pauline and Yvonne knew Margaret also I think she lived at the top of Lockwood Crescent as well if I remember rightly she lived with her NAN .Anyway thanks for getting in touch.
    I also remember the Dump where we use to play that was at the top of Lockwood Crescent.

    By Rosalind Hughes (24/04/2021)
  • I too lived at 69 sandhurst avenue from 57 to 69. I remember many neighbours No.59-Daniels, 61- Kerrige, 63-Bowden, 65-Donaldson, 67-Crockatt, 69-Johnson, 71-Gale 73 -Jones, 75-Day, 77-Perkins, 81-Freeman, 85-Brooks,, 87-Hope. Had many memories of winter deep snow and riding the tea tray down the hill. My dad was the Mr Whippy ice cream man in 1967 until he became manager in 1969 and we moved to Lancing. We used to love playing in the fields behind our house before Jaycee’s expanded and my uncle used to park his SM Tidy lorry in the field. I have plenty of fond memories of growing up in the 60’s.

    By Ian Johnson (07/06/2022)
  • I lived at 4 Lockwood Crescent in a prefab in early 50s. My maiden name was Allen and if I remember rightly the Bonner family lived one side and the Smiths the other side. I too, remember 1963 it was horrendous. I moved to Truleigh Close after leaving Lockwood Crescent. Used to love walking over the fields to The Toby pub to take my dads beer bottles back and keep the money to buy black jacks. Good old days.

    By Susan Dubeau (15/11/2023)

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