A tremble of fear

Rifle Butt Road was demolished in 1978 to make way for the access road for the Marina
Photo from original 'My Brighton' exhibit

In my early childhood during World War II, I lived at Roedean, and Black Rock was central to my life through to 1950 when I left Brighton. My maternal grandmother lived at Black Rock Farm cottages, until evacuation as the cliffs eroded and eventually crumbled into the sea. Later, with grandmother on the Undercliff Walk, she pointed out flowering phlox on the clifftop, a legacy from the garden there.

Bombs hit the gasometers
I attended St Mark’s School (Headmistress Miss L G Reddick), until the bomb damage when we were transferred to Whitehawk while repairs were made. We returned and I completed my primary education there in 1947. On another German raid I was in Rifle Butt Road when bombs hit the gasometers and there was an almighty explosion. I still feel a tremor of fear when I pass the block of flats.

Opening of the Lido
After the war, the Lido opened, I had a season ticket and spent many happy hours there. Memories include special events in the pool: an astonishing first view in demonstration by swimmers with frog flippers, a log rolling demonstration and other aquatics.

The Marina: a blot on the landscape
It is so sad that a blot such as the Marina should stand while the lido was demolished. I still have a love for the Downs, and for East Brighton Park, where I played soccer, cricket and tennis.”

Comments about this page

  • I have a lovely little painting of Black RocK Farm. The story from my father – Fred Holford, born at Black Rock 1906 – was that an artist gave it as payment for sleeping in the barn. He was one of the four children of Lawrence and Marcella Holford – Lawrence, Olive, Ivy and Fred. John – I think we are related. Would love to hear from you – jholford@gmail.com.

    By Josie Holford (14/02/2010)
  • Was that the Holford that lived in Arundel Street? If my memory serves me right he was a builder.

    By Tony Freeman (12/09/2010)
  • John Sullivan, we must be the same age, because I was home from St Marks in the dinner hour when the bomb dropped on the gasholder. I didn’t go back until after the war if I remember correctly. My dad was on fire watch near Old Steine and saw the holder explode. When we were sent to Whitehawk Juniors Miss Reddick came too, and I absolutely hated her. Being left handed, she once forced me to change writing hand which caused a great deal of unnecessary stress. There was once a bad smell in our class, and she had all the boys lined up outside so she could sniff every one of us (to no avail of course). She did not include the girls. Talk about second-class citizens. Mr Pinchen was the exact opposite – stern, masculine and scrupulously fair. He was a fine teacher and everyone (not just the girls) loved him. Your name sounds vaguely familiar and wonder where you lived. I lived in Rugby Place throughout, and most of my friends did as well, including John Darby and Alan Dart and also Ron Cox and his younger brother Raymond who lost a leg under a bus in Whitehawk Road. Other names are Ralph Harries, Bobby Downard, Michael Fish, ‘Drew Forrest, Glen Knox, Ginger Hooley, Johnny Ball to name just a few. Did you know Neil Palmer? He lived in Peel Road and went to University after Varndean Grammar. John Kelly lived in Hervey Road as did a Linda Knight, every boys’ sweetheart right from the Infants! I have a group photo of the VE Day street party from which I’m sure you will recognise many of the street’s kids. Just don’t know where to upload it.

    By Brian Hatley (25/06/2011)
  • I’d love to be in touch with both of you – I live in Marine Gate and John, my husband, and I are writing a book about its history. It would be great to be in touch and hear your memories – memckean@me.com

    By Mary McKean (03/03/2013)
  • There is a long history of the Cowley family at Black Rock Farm some of which you can read on my family history web site – ‘Brighton & Beyond – A History of the Cowley Family’. You can read about ‘The Cowley Family – Dairymen & Farmers’ at http://www.cowleyfamily.org.uk/cowley_farmers.html. I would welcome any other information – please use the contact form on the web site.

    By Peter Cowley (09/03/2013)
  • I went to St Marks School late 50s and early sixties with not so fond memories. Looking for early photo of a Roedean Coastguard cottages, Roedean Farm and early roads, footpaths across the Roedean estate. Can anyone assist with this search?



    By Stephen Rowlins (20/07/2018)

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