History of Whitehawk

Until 1930 this was a downland valley known as Whitehawk Bottom. Understandably, when this area was chosen to house families displaced by slum clearance, the name of the adjacent hillside, Whitehawk Down, was chosen for the estate name!

Apart from a pig farm, there was little in the way of housing other than the small manor farm. However from 1931 onwards there was massive development of this estate as the borough authorities cleared some of the appalling East Brighton slums, both in the Carlton Hill area and in the streets behind swanky Kemp Town such as Essex, Suffolk and Bedford Streets.

Stuck way out on the eastern fringes of the town, up a cul-de-sac valley, with little in the way of permanent employment, this has been something of a forgotten estate in the past. It was known to many city folk only through press reports of gang fights, drug busts, child abuse cases, and all the social problems that stem from high unemployment and low wage jobs.

The city is doing much to stimulate the area by using regeneration funds. The creation of a Computer Centre in the old Whitehawk Inn is but one of the schemes. As in much of the city, the low status of the estate has to be seen in relation to the luxury apartments and floating gin-palaces of Brighton Marina on the very doorstep of Whitehawk.

Comments about this page

  • I know for a fact that Whitehawk Down was named well before the estate was built (see the book Whitehawk Down ‘Where the turf meets the surf’). I think I remember reading it was first called Whitehawk Down in the mid 18th Century.

    By Leo Rychlinski (05/12/2005)
  • Could the name ‘White hawk’ come from Bird species present on the Downs in the 18th Century?

    By La Digue Creative (15/05/2008)
  • I understood from school, Whitehawk Sec Mod, that the area was named after a Roman legion stationed at the fort on “Whitehawk Hill” as it is now known, ie the Whitehawk Legion. Any help?

    By Alan Leeves (14/01/2010)
  • I lived in Hervey Road, number 52, for all my childhood. I went to all the Whitehawk schools. I was born in 1962 so remember “Give us a jig Les”, the harmless bloke who was always walking in Hervey and around Whitehawk. I have one brother Dave and a sister Debbie and my mum’s name is Patricia. I’m looking for a street view map of Whitehawk, how it was back then, but can’t seem to find one anywhere so really hope someone can help me?

    By Michael Lacey (13/05/2019)
  • Michael, if you contact The Keep archive at Falmer (open Tues-Saturday) they will have maps showing the pre-development street plan for Whitehawk.

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (16/05/2019)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *