Memories of Ditchling Rise

My Ford Prefect van outside our house c.1963
Photo by John Desborough

Early memories
I was born in October 1942 and bought up at 81 Ditchling Rise. My first memory was being pushed under a table during an air raid and being given a Mickey Mouse gas mask to play with. The Germans were bombing Brighton Station and the Viaduct and I have a lasting memory of the noise from the anti-aircraft gun placement at the eastern end of the viaduct.

A great place to live
It was a great place to live after the war, close to London Road, the Duke of York’s cinema and all amenities.

At the rear of the house there was an embankment where my friends and I played for hours building hideaways with sheets of corrugated iron. The trains travelled to and from Brighton Station via London Road, Falmer, Lewes, Glynde and beyond, though I never went further than Glynde on the train as that’s all I could afford with my 2/6d pocket money. I would mostly be found with a 1d platform ticket (in those days you had to have a ticket to be on the platform), watching the steam and electric trains and taking train numbers. I didn’t know why kids took train numbers but we did.

Growing up on Ditchling Rise
There were plenty of kids to play with in the street. I remember playing cricket against the garden wall of the first building in Gerard Street opposite our house; the stumps were drawn on the wall with chalk, the game progressed with a tennis ball and a bat that one of the lads came up with. We played marbles in the gutter and we didn’t catch anything nasty. My favourite game however, was cowboys and Indians with a silver plastic cap gun and a five pointed sheriffs star badge, we had great fun.

Getting around
It was an event in those days to see a car or any vehicle for that matter on the streets. As I got older, my Dad built me a go-cart with a wooden brake on one rear wheel to ride down the hill towards Beaconsfield Road. He also made me a bike out of odd parts he bought or found, I thought it was wonderful and it really broadened my horizons. I would ride to school (Fawcett in Pelham Street), go to Preston Park in the evenings and as far afield as Burgess Hill and fourteen miles to Haywards Heath at the weekend.

I remember being taken out for a walk on a Saturday or Sunday evening, down London Road, past St Peter’s Church to the Palace Pier, or maybe to the Black Lion in Patcham. We would always catch a number 46 trolleybus back from the pier to Preston Circus, or a number 5 from the Black Lion, maybe getting some fish and chips from Bardsley’s or Rolf’s in New England Road when we got back if Dad had enough money.

Life at home
Mum didn’t work outside the home, she cooked, cleaned and looked after Dad, me and my sister. I remember the cold meat, mashed potato and peas on a Monday (leftovers from Sunday lunch). This was also washing day, using a boiler to boil up the bed sheets on the back step, using blue bag to make them look whiter.

The photo shows my Ford Prefect van parked outside our house circa 1963 (when there were very few vehicles). I left Ditchling Rise in 1966 when I married and moved to York Road, Hove. These are my memories of Ditchling Rise.

Comments about this page

  • My mother and I lived in a top floor flat in 31 Ditchling Rise, from 1953 to 1956. I loved it there – shopping in the local shops in London Road, walking to Preston Park, or up to London Road Station for trips further afield.
    Our flat was very small – the bath was hidden behind plastic curtains in the hallway!
    Wasn’t there a sweetshop on the corner called Hood’s? And a second-hand furniture shop?

    By Honor (04/12/2008)
  • Yes, there was a newsagent called Hoods, Mr and Mrs Hood lived next door to us at number 83 Ditchling Rise. I used to take my ration book to their shop for my sweet allocation.

    By John Desborough (03/04/2009)
  • I am a born and bred Brighton boy as were my family. Tracing my family history they seemed to have lived all over Brighton. In 1911 George Newman was living at number 97 Ditchling Rise with his wife Louisa. Any memories and photographs would be much appreciated. As for me, I was born in 1947 in the Sussex County Hospital, Elm Grove. Mum and Dad were Frances and Sydney Percival. Brothers were Dave and Brian and sisters were Frances and Penny. We lived 175 Bear Road, attended Coombe Road Primary and St Luke’s Secondary before joining the RN in 1963. Also lived prior to RN in Albion Hill, Craven Vale, and Hollingdean.

    Love to hear from you.

    Peter Newman

    By Peter Newman (15/06/2009)
  • We were browsing this site and my late husband was John Smith who lived opposite Hoods at number 39 Ditchling Rise. My sister in law Betty remembers you and she would like to get in touch with you if you don’t mind. Please contact me if you wish to.

    By Verena Smith (15/07/2010)
  • I stayed as a guest student in a familiy in Ditchling Rise. Unfortunately it has been a long time ago, and I don’t remember the name of the family. It was in 1986. At that time, they used to host many foreign students from all over the world. They were a couple, about 65, and they had a daughter and grandchildren. They were both tall and dark haired. The house was on the left side if you drive up to Ditchling Road. I am traveling to Brighton in a couple of days and would like very much to drive by. Would you help me somehow? I would be very glad.

    By Claudia Alves Munz (29/07/2010)
  • My Great Grandmother & her son my Gt uncle & some of her sisters lived at 84 Ditchling Rise , not sure since when , but probably 1930s/40s until she died in 1971 . I remember as a very young child visiting her there for her 90th & 95th Birthdays . Her name was Edith Webb nee Ferris . Does anyone remember her? I frequently visit Brighton as my parents & siblings live there now & I always like to take detour up Ditchling Rise to see her old house. It looks like it’s now been divided into flats , but I remember it how it was then .

    By Jane (26/12/2010)
  • I was born on 6th January 1942 at 61 Warleigh Road. My memories are very similar to John except I went to Ditchling Road Infants and Primary School with my best friend Billy Goddard who lived in the top half of Ditchling Rise,above the intersection of Warleigh Road. I remember my closest near death experience was when I was about 9yrs old screaming down Ditchling Rise on a pump up scooter and hanging a sharp left into Warleigh Road and coming face to face with,for those days,a very rare motor car,coming straight at me. I missed it by a whisker, don’t know who had the whitest face, me or the car driver. Never tried that again without a lookout. Very happy memories of Warleigh Road,street parties, street sports days etc. Eventually went to the Building School for a couple of years then migrated to Oz with my family in 1956. Never been back much to my sorrow. Aren’t memories great to have, though?

    By David Taylor (29/12/2010)

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