Charting the changes

Bevendean, October 1906
Image reproduced with permission from Brighton History Centre

‘The Domesday Book’ of 1086 recorded the manor of Bevendean, ‘Beofa’s valley’, to be worth £6 and held by one Walter from William de Warrenne. It was eventually divided between two estates, Lower and Upper Bevendean, which were acquired by the corporation in November 1913 and January 1940 respectively; the whole Bevendean area was annexed by the county borough from Falmer parish on 1 April 1928. Lower Bevendean Farm was originally accessed from Bear Road by a trackway now known as Bevendean Road and had an eighteenth-century farmhouse, but the buildings were later demolished to provide the open space now known as Farm Green between Auckland Drive and Bevendean School. Upper Bevendean Farm survives however, and has a late-nineteenth-century farmhouse in Warren Avenue, Woodingdean.

A growing estate
The first development of the Lower Bevendean estate came in the early 1930s when the corporation extended its housing from South Moulsecoomb up the valley onto Bevendean land: thus 85-123 and 110-120 The Avenue (eastwards from the cross roads at the western end of Manton Road), plus Lower Bevendean Avenue, Upper Bevendean Avenue and Manton Road, are now a part of Bevendean. At about the same time, the Widdicombe Way/Bevendean Crescent area was developed privately and was also known as part of the Bevendean estate, but it is now normally counted as part of the Moulsecoomb district.

Post-war developments
With a pressing need for new homes in the post-war period, the greater part of the Bevendean housing estate was rapidly developed higher up the valley from 1948 by the corporation, which named the roads after English castles. The population of Bevendean is now around the 4,000 mark. Bevendean Barn, at the corner of Auckland Drive and Heath Hill Avenue, was used as a chapel for the estate from 1953, but it was replaced in 1963 by the Church of the Holy Nativity, a Modern-style building in brick, mottled knapped-flint and cobbles by Richard Melhuish Ariba. The industrial estate at The Hyde was developed from 1955; the first factory was Elizabeth English shoes, followed by Hibberd furniture, Brighton Sheet Metal works, Redifon, Canada Dry and Gulton Europe.

Comments about this page

  • The architect of the church of the Holy Nativity was Reginald Melhuish ARIBA NOT Richard.

    By Reginald Melhuish (11/02/2006)
  • Harrimonds, where my Mum and lots of other Bevendean women worked was also in the Hyde. Redifon was the old Shoe Factory and Gulton was also something else before it was Gulton. Does anyone remember ? I’m also pretty sure that Canada Dry was formally Hooper Stroove.

    By Geoff Fitch (02/01/2007)
  • There is a footpath that runs from Lower Bevendean and leads to Kingston, near Lewes, crossing the Falmer to Woodindean Road en route. As you walk along this path, about halfway between Lower Bevendean and the Falmer-Woodingdean Road, there was a house, which was derelict during my childhood but now sadly demolished. We were told that it was the home of a sailor (I don’t know how true that is) but we throroughly enjoyed playing in it. My mother would have had a fit had she known! Does anyone else remember this house?

    By Vernon Page (22/09/2007)
  • Gee Vernon – We used to do the the same trip as 10 to 12 year olds in the late 1950s – what an adventure, including a quick newt hunt in Falmer pond.  If we had the money we would bus back, if not, then a slow walk back up the Lewes Road was on the cards for a bunch of tired lads on a long summer’s day.  Since we set off from upper Bev, I do not recall any houses on our route – but the freedom and joy remains as a very fond memory.

    By Richard Windsor (22/02/2008)
  • I used to live in Norwich Drive, Lower Bevendean, until my parents moved us to another part of town in 1976. I would love to hear from anybody who went to the school, up until that time.

    By Paul Bennett (18/09/2008)

    By TERRY JOHN SHIPTON (16/12/2009)
  • Hi my father George (nicknamed Paddy) was amongst many local people who helped partially self build the vicars house behind the Church of the Holy Nativity. If I remember correctly the first vicar there was Father Chapman. We moved from Lower Bevendean to Cheshire in 1966 and I now live in Auckland, New Zealand. Fond memories.

    By Patrick Seaman (06/01/2010)
  • Did any of you know Miss Gunn? She now lives in my care home, Meadowcroft in Shoreham-by-Sea, and will be reaching the grand age of 100 on the 22nd February. I was trying to get some of her past pupils to attend a birthday party on the day at 3pm. Anyone who would remember her and would like to come, please email me on Thank you.

    By Rachel Mohidin (07/02/2010)
  • The name of Miss Gunn seems familiar. Although the birthday has passed can you give some more details of her? I think I knew her (not in my current name). In what years did she teach at Bevendean? We moved to Heath Hill Avenue in 1951. The house was then – maybe still is – at the far end of the road at the junction of Auckland Drive. The semi was next to the cow and horse fields and we often had the cows in our garden. Father Chapman was indeed the vicar and Miss Passmore was his sort of religious sidekick. Everything revolved around The Barn Church of the Holy Nativity that seems to have been renamed the Church of the Holy Nativity. Down from the church was a road of prefabs. Going down passed those was The Avenue and as we went down, between the houses on the left, we could climb up what we called Jacobs Ladder – a great many steps! - to reach, via a short cut, Bear Road where our grandparents lived. We did everything on bikes and by walking.

    By Kate Holmes (10/10/2010)
  • There is a concrete circle approx 20 feet in diameter, north of the water reservior at Bevendean and between the cow field back of Moulsecomb. Does anyone know what this once was, (looks like a mini cycle track)? I  found it whilst out running, looking for a short cut to the new Brighton football stadium at Falmer. Once on top of the hill you can see the new arched roof of the stadium.

    By Bob Baines (16/10/2010)
  • I remember Father Chapman & Miss Passmore, as I attended Sunday school at the Barn Church & my brother was a choir boy there too. As a younger person I would often walk to Falmer pond with my father Doug Cole whilst taking the dogs for a walk. We would go newting in the pond which was a bit dangerous at the time – all the Health & Safety freaks would be in despair if they had seen it as it was then!

    By Angie Darkin (04/10/2011)
  • Re Kate Holmes. I currently live in the last house in Heath Hill Avenue, I am attached to one neighbour who is the corner house joing Auckland. Just to let you know, my dad, Robert Lee, grew up in Auckland Drive and was over the moon when I moved here as it had such good memories. We also adore living here.  Also I would love to see some old photos of this area if anyone has any.

    By Natasha Murray (10/02/2012)
  • Hi Natasha. I lived just around the corner in Auckland Drive from 1950 to 1970. A family called Clark lived in your house, adjoining were the O’Flaherty’s then the Bulbecks, Whites and then us (Whatmans). I believe next door in Heathhill Avenue were the Robinsons. I split my knee open on the lamp post outside your house trying to ride my little sister trike down Walmer Crescent and hitting the kerb. Happy days.

    By Dave Whatman (24/04/2012)
  • My sister still lives in Norwich Drive (Margaret). I lived there with my parents, Bert and Marcelle, and five brothers and sisters. I remember the school: Mrs Cross, Mr Webb, Miss Gunn, Mr and Mrs Maskell. Harry Burns from the pub, the swing in the woods. riding my bike down the bank from Norwich Drive to Heathhill Avenue and not forgetting all the floods in Bodiam close.

    By STEPHEN GORRINGE (19/05/2012)
  • Hi there Geoff I lived in Walmer Crescent for a few years and was also the milkman around Bevendean. Gulton used to be called West Instrument’s.

    By Mick Brill (22/05/2012)
  • Re: the first question. Gulton Europe was originally known as West Instruments. It still retains that name to this day as it’s brand and trading name. Despite having had several different owners, it is still essentially the same business, manufacturing temperature controllers.

    By Kev Doherty (11/01/2013)
  • I wrote on this page in 2010 and I am back in Brighton (and Lower Bevendean) between 29th April and 2nd May 2013 visiting my roots (78 Auckland Drive between 1951 and 1966) etc. If anyone is around who has a terrific memory it would be nice to catch up – – Many thanks

    By Patrick Seaman (07/04/2013)
  • Mick Brill – did you buy my old Lambretta? You can mail me at


    By Cliff Marlow (21/06/2014)

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