Welcome to Bear Road

Lying to the north east of central Brighton, Bear Road was the parish boundary between Brighton and Preston. This is one of the reasons why the road runs through a chain of cemeteries, because since the Bronze Age these have been classically located on tribal/parish edges.

The area developed for housing in the early years of the 20th century. Indeed one nearby housing block is termed the Boer War estate, with streets named after either generals (Redvers, Buller) or battles (Ladysmith, Mafeking).

The western-lower-end of the Bear Road abuts the industrial area of Lewes Road, an important economic area of the town in the early 20th century. It was the site for Reasons electric works (later the more famous Allen West), a diamond cutting works, and more mundanely a custard powder factory and a dental supplies works. Nearby,the water pumping station, Cox’s Pill factory, the abbatoir and the railway coal yards all gave abundant (if rather noxious!) employment.

The area today
This is an area of red-brick terraces. First-home buyers step onto the housing ladder here, where housing costs and room rentals are low. It is thus classic student bedsit land.

The continuing growth of the Lewes Road valley as a ‘science corridor’ linking the two univerity campuses with the ‘Silicon Beach’ of central Brighton may have some effect on the society and housing of Bear Road, though whether this will develop in the North Laine ‘Bohemian Quarter’ style is open to question.

Comments about this page

  • As a small child, I have quite vivid memories of living at l49 Bear Road, Brighton. When the air raids sounded, my mother, sister and I ran down our front steps and up next door’s steps in order to hide under our next door neighbour’s Anderson shelter in her front room. Every Friday our neighbour, Mr Frank Fairweather, would take his empty jug and go down to the Bear Inn for a fill up. He had a lovely vegetable back garden and gave my sister and I a few pennies to collect the manure from the horse-drawn carts which regularly delivered.

    By Marie Lewis (08/04/2003)
  • On early maps the road is called Bearhill Road, as it led up to Bear Hill. In the late 1950s I had two cousins living in nearby Kimberley Road. On Sunday mornings I used to visit one of them and take a football up to the triangular piece of land bounded by Bear Road, Race Hill and Tenantry Down Road. You would be hard pressed to find a ball now in the long grass up there!

    By Alan Hobden (06/10/2003)
  • Marie mentions going into her neighbour’s ‘Anderson’ shelter. I think she might have meant ‘Morrison’ shelter. This fitted under the table. The other one was a corrugated metal structure dug into the garden. I hope I’m right, I’m trying to remember back to 1941!!

    By Don Priest (01/04/2004)
  • Don Priest is almost certainly right about the indoor air-raid shelter being a Morrison, although a few people did seem to have erected their Andersons inside their houses! I do not, however, think a Morrison would have fitted underneath a table. It would have had to have been an enormous table!!

    By David Bambridge (04/05/2004)
  • My family and I are newcomers to the Brighton area and have just taken over the lease of The Bear Inn in Bear/Lewes Road. We are very interested in the history of the property and would very much welcome stories and photos of the pub. Can you can help?

    By Tora Kaines (18/11/2006)
  • Does anyone remember Nevilles the greengrocers on the corner of Bear Road and Newmarket Road ? They had a very noisy collie called Rex. As a boy I used to live in 69 Newmarket Road and our backyard was situated about 3 metres below their back garden. Dog used to frighten us kids to death.

    By Roy Davis (08/12/2006)
  • I lived at times during the war with my grandparents at 37 Redvers Rd. Next door lived Mrs Dellaway with her parrot in the front window. On the other side (no.35) lived the Gardeners – an ex- publican. I can remember being woken up by his cries for help when on a journey to the outside loo he had slipped and broke his leg. On the corner of the street was Mr Snow’s corner shop. At other times we lived at home at Stanmer Park Road where I had a friend Johnny Hinds, where is he now? Does he remember being machine gunned in the street by a German fighter plane?

    By Alan Fry (13/03/2008)
  • My aunt and uncle lived for many years at 321 Bear Road, I live in the North East but visited them in the early seventies.Their house overlooked a cemetary iI remember.

    By Audrey Paul (07/06/2008)
  • I used to work at the Bevendean Hospital.

    By Claude (18/01/2009)
  • I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that Bear Road is called Bear Road. Where are the bears? Reading about the place here, the fact that it was a boundary road running between cemetries and that it was called Bearhill, I’m wondering if the name was originally to do with the word Bier – Bier Roads are traditional paths or routes taken to carry dead bodies for burial. Also known as Corpse Roads. Loads of them have been discovered (or rediscovered) going back thousands of years. If you google bier roads or corpse roads, you can read about them. Is this our own corpse road?

    By Marian (03/05/2009)
  • My Nan and Grandad lived at 30 Mafeking Road, Nellie and Stan Ginn. Does anyone remember them?

    By Julia Hyatt (nee Ginn) (21/07/2009)
  • Hi Audrey Paul – the couple that lived at 321 Bear Road were Mr & Mrs Tamlyn, he was their Uncle’s brother.

    By Julie (05/10/2009)
  • Hi Julie, do you mean number 32 Mafeking Road? My mum lived at 34 with her mum, dad, and sister Joyce, Cliff, Yvonne, and Maureen (my Mum).

    By Lisa Hobden (nee Spears) (26/12/2009)
  • I was always led to believe that that Bear pub was so named because bear-baiting used to take place on this site and I had presumed that this was why it is called Bear Road. I used to deliver morning papers up Bear Road in the early 70s – no fun in the winter.

    By Pauline Dunkerton (12/03/2010)
  • My family and I lived at 31 Bear Road from 1988 – 2001. It’s on the opposite side of the road to the General shop now run by Chris and Colin and its front garden is bounded on the north by a 7 foot brick wall. Wondered if anyone knows what sort of shop it used to be before it was converted to a house – we know it had been a shop because the lower part of the east facing wall in the front room was covered with ceramic tiles which are probably still there now – we covered them with wallpaper? It was good living there although we didn’t get to know many people in the area except immediate neighbours (unless we saw them in the Newmarket pub, formerly run by Pauline and Peter Smith).

    By Chris (was Pelling) (08/03/2011)
  • Hi Chris. I lived in the first house on the right going up Bear Road in 1971. We had the basement flat and garden. There were apple trees and the kids in the houses behind used to scare the life out of me climbing the wall to scrump. On the corner was a little general store. On the opposite side of the road was a butchers. I believe this is where you mean.

    By Jennifer Tonks (10/03/2011)
  • On the 1911 Census, my Grandfather lived at number 10 Belle Vue cottages with my grandmother and their 3 daughters. Were they called Redvers Villas, as I have seen a photograph of my Mother outside a house with that name on it. She would have been about 5 or 6 at the time.

    By Angela Greaves (23/04/2012)
  • I have been researching my family tree and identified that my great great great grandfather Walter Westgate was the inn-keeper of the Bear Inn from at least 1841-1860. He died in 1866. His granddaughter, Naomi Vickers, lived in Freehold Place across from the inn.

    By Keith Hemmings (04/05/2012)
  • Hi Julia, I lived at 32 Mafeking Road with my parents Henry and Sally Fordham. We moved there in 1958 and I remember Nellie and Stan Ginn.

    By Dot Jones (21/05/2012)
  • I have been researching my family tree for the last 10 years. In the 1911 census, my grandparents lived at 1, Race Hill Cottage, Bear Road, Preston. They were Ben and Amy Colbran, born around 1873, married 1895. Does anyone have any information about them? They moved to Haworth in Yorkshire during the First World War.

    By Stan Colbran (08/09/2012)
  • Stan, according to the National Probate Calendar, Benjamin Colbran died on the 4th June 1941 at 9, Springhead, Oakworth, Yorkshire. He left Amy, his widow, £207 19s 11d. Hope that is useful to your research.

    By H. Mitchell (08/09/2012)
  • Once again I find myself looking up places where I lived, No 151 Bear Rd 1962; 50 years have passed by and it seems like yesterday. I used to get a good pint in the Bear Inn.

    By Garry Lockwood (23/10/2012)
  • I did not live in Bear Road but at 52 Ladysmith Road in the sixties. It was my first house, and my garden backed onto the houses in Bear Road. In those days there were no students.  Even at 20 I used to get puffed up the steep hill. I went there earlier this year and got even more puffed also called in at the Bear Inn they had a very nice Parrot in the bar, trouble was he swore a bit.

    By Dennis Fielder (23/10/2012)
  • I didn’t live in Bear Rd but had a paper round in the the mid fifties that was up Bear Rd, on the left going up the hill was Carters the sweet shop on the corner of Riley, about four houses up from Carters was Rene’s Fish and Chip shop next door to the chip shop was a wool and haberdashery shop, then on the corner of Ewhurst was Mills the grocers and on the other corner of Ewhurst was a butcher shop. On the other side of the road was the paper shop and next door was Bartups the boot mender and on the corner of Newmarket was Mr and Mrs Nevill the greengrocer. I was born and raised in the flats on Ladysmith Rd, and the whole area was our playground, many happy memories.

    By Tina Shaheen nee Smith (04/08/2013)
  • Just found this site. I was born at 31 Bear Road in November 1950. My father and his brother moved down from Manchester in 1948. He managed the butchers shop at 31 and his brother had the butchers shop on the corner of Ewhurst Road. Both shops were owned by the in-laws of my dad’s brother. I also remember the Carters and the lady in the fish shop was known to me as Auntie Rene. It was then taken over by Adam and Mae McClean when Rene left.

    By Glynis Underhill nee Herring (18/04/2014)
  • My grandparents, and my parents lived at 133 Bear Road, I was born there and lived there until I married in 1973. My Grandparents name was Manville and there was quite a lot of them and their children that lived there. My parents lived there, my Father died in 2002 and my mother lived there alone until her death in 2015. Many names on this site I can relate to.

    By Ann Leadbetter (03/05/2020)

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