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Slum clearance in the 1950s

Belgrave Square, Portslade ready for the VE Day Celebrations on 8 May 1945

Slum Clearance
Belgrave Square was located off of Wellington Road in Portslade and was the first road west from the bottom of Station Road. The houses were removed as a part of the slum clearances of the North Street area of Portslade in the mid 1950’s. Most of the occupants were moved to the then newish council houses in Mile Oak. A bus stop now sits at what was the entrance to Belgrave Square.

Granny Callingham

The lady in black at the bottom of the road in the photograph may well be my maternal great-grandmother, Fanny Callingham. While she actually lived in the first house in the square, after the corner shop on the right- hand side, when she was ill she stayed with one of her daughters. Her daughter was Daisy Medlock, who with her husband Joe and children Carole and Norman, all lived in the last house down on the left-hand side (on the lady’s right in the photo).

Other members of the family

Another of my great-grandmother’s daughters, Nellie, with her husband Percy Botting and children June, Eileen and Percy Junior, lived next door to my great-grandmother, in the second house on the left. My grand-parents, Kate and Edgar Smith, with my mother Kitty, my uncle Fred and auntie Vi, lived further down on the same side of the square, until 1942 when they moved to 9 Seaford Road in Hove, just around the corner. Opposite my grand-parents lived a Mrs Barnard, who brought up my grandfather, Edgar Smith, and his three siblings alongside four children of her own.

Grateful to Uncle Fred

I am very grateful to my uncle Fred, who was Leonard Frederick Smith, for his help in drawing up the map of who lived where in the square c1942. As this shows, out of a total population of 37 people living in 14 properties, my family accounted for 17 people in 5 of them; not allowing for Gran Barnard as she was known to the family. I can just about remember my Grandmother taking me to visit her Mum before she died around about 1953/4; I was born in January 1949.

Memories of the horse drawn coal wagon

In earlier reminiscences of Belgrave Square, I seemed to remember a horse drawn coal wagon delivering sacks of coke to what I thought was a foundry on the last site down on the left-hand side. However, with the help of my uncle Fred’s map, I can now see that this was a stable for the horses of Mr Drew, the coalman, and Mr Hamblin, the rag and bone man. Fortunately for me though, my memory is not quite that bad after all, as uncle Fred also tells me that many castings used to be taken into the stables for fettling by a couple of labourers who worked there. Also, I do remember Granny Callingham taking great delight in sending me out with a medium sized tin, minus the lid, to pick up any lumps of coke Mr Drew the coalman had dropped when he came back to the stables.

Click on the diagram below to open a large version in a new window – click again to make larger.

Plan of Belgrave Square

Comments about this page

  • What an amazing picture, been reading a lot on history of Portslade and never knew this road existed till now.

    By Tara (04/03/2006)
  • Just doing my family tree and found Belgrave Square through this site. No wonder I couldn’t find it on the maps. My Great, great Granddad lived at No.6. (Burgess Family) I will make a visit to the area soon. Thank you.

    By Ivor Williams (27/03/2006)
  • Iwould like to say I remember Belgrave Square and the shop on the corner, though I can’t remember the people who own it. We live in East Street and we would be sent with a list of groceries to purchase from the shop. One day in the second war my friend and I were on our way to the shop when we were stopped from going on the sea front as a convoy of tanks and American soliders were going through,we had to wait a long time before they would let us through. I have told my sister to have a look at this site as she lives in Brighton and I live in Australia. I would like to see more photos of Portslade on these sites if anyone has them.

    By Patricia Finneran (nee Morley) (02/06/2007)
  • By chance I came across this site. My Auntie Daisy and Uncle Joe lived in this area when I was a little girl. Joe was my mother’s brother and they had two children: Norman and Carole. It would be interesting to see if Daisy Medlock was my aunt. I have been compiling my family tree and would like to add this picture to my archives – that is if it is correct.

    By Christine Carden (31/01/2008)
  • Christine, I can confirm that your Auntie Daisy was also my Great Aunt Daisy, and that her husband was Joe Medlock. This is where they lived when I was young. Soon afterwards, when the properties in Belgrave Square were due to be demolished, they moved to Wickhurst Rise, Mile Oak (North Portslade). If you go to “Streets”, “Wickhurst Rise” on this site you’ll see a photo I added showing your Uncle Joe on Christmas Day 1960. (In spite of the text under the photo, the house was actually Auntie Daisy’s and Uncle Joe’s, not my grandparents). Sadly Norman Medlock died about 18 months ago now, but Carole lives not far from my wife and I in Brighton. If you’d like to get in touch I am contactable at and I would galdly let you have copies of any photos I have.

    By Alan Phillips (12/02/2008)
  • Alan Phillips your Belgrave Square slum clearance article interested me because of the comments about the foundry. There was indeed a small aluminium foundry in the corner of the square which was owned by Briggs and Baker. These two gentlemen worked together at CVA in Old Shoreham Road prior to setting up in business. I worked for them as an apprentice in the 1950 era. It may be of interest to you that I remember a chap who lived in the square and who worked in the foundry as a fettler. His first name was Ernie, I am unable to remember his last name but I do remember he had serious trouble with his health and had a lung removed,after which he returned to work. About 1957 the foundry moved to new premises at Newhaven.

    By Bryan Millard (25/02/2008)
  • I worked at CVA and knew Mr Baker (Pat Baker) who owned an aluminum foundry in Newhaven, interesting that I now learn that it was originally in Portslade. I was a young apprentice and at one stage worked under Pat Baker who was an inspector. He had been at CVA for many years and I understand that he ran his foundry and worked at CVA at the same time! Additionally he was a JP, must have been a very busy man! Interestingly, I now work in Newhaven, there is a foundry close by currently being demolished! I wonder if it is his old foundry?

    By Peter Groves (16/04/2008)
  • Bryan Millard and Peter Groves, Many thanks for your information. I was pretty sure there had been a foundry in Belgrave Square, but others had told me I was wrong and that it was just a horse stables. I remember CVA (later to become part of Kearney and Trecker Ltd) being based in Portland Road, before they moved to Hollingbury (where Asda now stands). Were they also in Old Shoreham Road?

    By Alan Phillips (10/05/2008)
  • Hi Alan, to the very best of my knowledge CVA were never in the Old Shoreham Road. They did have two buildings in the Portslade area. The first was on the corner of Brambledean? and Wellington Road (A259). This building was used by their selling company, E. H. Jones, and I don’t think had anything to do with castings. It was used between 1949 and 1955. The second was Harbour Garage, Aldrington Basin, used between 1946 and 1951 as a welding and fabrication shop. Again probably nothing to do with castings. The CVA foundry was in Portland Road, and it was a substantial foundry, able to pour castings of up to a ton or more. I’m not sure when the Portland Road foundry opened, I’ll have it noted somewhere, however I understand that when the foundry was built they uncovered the old slaughter house which had been part of the Aldrington Farm many years before!

    By Peter Groves (16/01/2009)
  • Hello, I came across this page while searching for my Great, Great Grandfather Elias Knight Harrison. He was living at no12, with his wife Florence Mary, nee Cracknell or James at the time of their marriage in 1919. They also had a daughter in 1919 called Renee. They have been quite hard to trace. Being able to see where they lived has been great, thank you. I was wondering if maybe anyone knows of any Harrisons that lived there?

    By Christina (11/09/2009)
  • My great grandmother lived at No. 2, Sarah Anne martin. I am trying to find the name of her husband. She was a widow at the time of the 1901 cenus. My grandmother, mabel Beatrice was 10 years old at the time. I’d be grateful if anyone has any info on the family.

    By Terrance Lever (28/09/2009)
  • Mistake with house number for Sarah Anne Martin. It was No. 1. Could that be an upholsterery business as her son-in-law was an upholsterer and worked from home? Maybe the shop on the corner?

    By Terrance Lever (29/09/2009)
  • Hello Christina, your great grandfather, Elias Knight Harrison, and Florence Harrison were my Aunty and Uncle. He was known as Uncle Harry to us. Rene was indeed their daughter and their other children were Win, Dolly, Frank and John. I keep in touch with Dolly. If you would like to contact me – my e-mail address is

    By Jean Martin (nee Smith) (16/02/2010)
  • Does anyone remember the filming in Portslade by Sea’s back streets, with Michael Dennison and Mai Zetterling just off the A259 somewhere near Church Road in the early 50’s for the film Tall Headlines?

    By John Nihill (01/06/2010)
  • Hello Jean, thank you for your reply, I can’t believe I didn’t see it for so long! I tried to send you an email, but it came back as unsent, I tried again rearranging the words, so fingers crossed you get it ok. If not, my email address is if you would like to get in touch, it would be great to hear from you. Christina

    By Christina (02/09/2010)
  • To John Nihill – yes I remember the film you have mentioned. My friend Joanie Lane and myself were extras. We had to walk up the side of the street when Michael Dennison/Mai Zetterling came out of the house. The film was made in Belgrave Square which was the first street on the left hand side of the sea front; there used to be a grocery shop on the corner.

    By by Pat Finneran(Morley) 24/10/2010 (24/10/2010)
  • To Pat Finneran (Morley). Thanks Pat, for your comments. How old were you and Joanie? Were there many other extras? Did you do more than one scene? Did you get paid or meet the cast? Also did you know about the boy 13, Clin Winstanley who apparently fell 50 feet off a wall through an asbestos roof along Wellington Road, watching filming but survived? This film has recently been released on DVD can you see yourselves in it?

    By John Nihill (28/12/2010)
  • Hello John. Sorry that I have not answered your message before this only I could not find the site again and we have been having computer trouble! It was only because my sister sent me a message today and told me that you had left a message for me and what site it was on. No, we never got paid but we met the actors. Also I don’t remember about the boy falling. My sister is going to see if she can get the DVD and send it to me – that’s if it will play where I live. No, there was only the two of us in this scene. Once again, thank you.

    By Pat Finneran (Morley) (08/04/2011)
  • I recently bought the DVD on the strength of the previous comments on this page. The story is quite interesting and there are just two scenes that appear to have been shot in Belgrave Square. The first is very brief, when Philip Rackham (Michael Dennison) comes looking for Doris (Mai Zetterling), with whom he has fallen in love, despite his parents protests. the scene appears to have been shot at night. The second scene, apparently shot in daylight, is when the two of them return unexpectedly early from their honeymoon, and includes a number of children playing in the street in the background.

    By Alan Phillips (11/04/2011)
  • The Frightened Bride (1952) A novel by Audrey Erskine Lindop was the source for the grim British drama “Tall Headlines”. It was also called “The Frighten Bride”. The story is about the son of a middle-class family who is executed for murder and the family try to move to a different community under a different name, and never speak about their son. I will not tell you too much about the film as it might spoil it for you. The cast include Flora Robson and Andre Morrell as the grieving parents, Michael Denison as the brother, Mai Zetterling as the initial murder victim and Sid James as Mr. Spencer. It is available on dvd running time 100mins. Audrey Erskine Lindop was born in England on December 26th 1920 and died on November 7th 1986 on the Isle of Wight age 65.

    By Graham Knight (30/08/2011)
  • Sadly my second cousin Carole Bedson (née Medlock), mentioned previously on this page, passed away on Wednesday 3 October 2012 after a short illness.

    By Alan Phillips (15/10/2012)
  • In fact the above photo was taken when Belgrave Square was ready for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on 2 June 1953, as indicated by the plaque hanging on the wall to the right of the two ladies. (Perhaps Jennifer would be able to update the caption beneath the header photo?).
    I can confirm though that the lady in black was my maternal great grandmother, Fanny Callingham, and was standing next to Eileen Botting, her grand-daughter.

    By Alan Phillips (04/11/2019)
  • What an interesting page! I came across it researching my Dad’s family. The 1881 census shows that my great grandfather George Taylor was living at No 5 with his wife Emily and 4 children George, Olive, Henry (my grandfather) and James. They also had 2 lodgers. George was a bricklayer. The children were all scholars. Belgrave Square sounded like an imposing address so it was sad to hear it had been a slum cleared. It looked lovely in the old photo.

    By Bonita Thomson (nee Taylor) (20/06/2021)

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