Photos and articles about Brighton and Hove in the time of coronavirus. See our collection and add your own!

WWII bomb mystery

Elder Place/St Bartholomew’s? Click on image to open a larger version in a new window

St Bartholomew’s from Elder Place. Click on image to open a larger version in a new window

Elder Place, view towards New England Road. Click on image to open a larger version in a new window

An intriguing photograph

I was intrigued by the photograph of Elder Place taken following WWII bombing, which illustrated what was appeared to be  St. Bartholomew’s Church dominating the background.  Something just wasn’t quite right about it; surely St. Bartholomew’s should be on the right of Elder Place?

Elder Place or Elder Street?

The Brighton Bombing Map has a bomb marked in Elder Place; but it shows St. Bartholomew’s on the left, which is not the case. On checking the Bombing Map again, I considered that the photograph might be Elder Street and not Elder Place. However, If that was the case, then the marking on the map must be incorrect. I decided  that a visit to the location would be necessary in order to solve the mystery.

Another Surprise

Armed with my camera, and the photograph, I drove down New England Road (I always call it New England Hill) and turned right into New England Street. Watching carefully for traffic wardens, I double-parked in Elder Place. and looked up at St. Bartholomew’s. it was very clear that the roof was not the one in the photograph. I got back in my car and drove through Providence Place to view the church from the opposite end, but quickly realised it was definitely not the same building as that in the photograph.

St Saviour’s Mission

It was clear to me that the church in question was not St. Bartholomew’s and I had decided to go home and so some research, when I remembered that there used to be a church in New England Road, at the bottom, opposite the bus stop. I was sure the mystery was now solved, so I quickly doubled back into Elder Place,and took the photo, which confirmed it. I had originally assumed it was St. Bartholomew’s, but was looking in the wrong direction and at the wrong church.  Back at home I checked my 1930 large scale OS map, which established it was the St Saviour’s Mission in the background, demolished in the early 1990s and replaced by a small block of flats.

Panoramic view of the cleared area from New England Street, showing the cleared Elder Street and the site of the narrow Elder Row. The photograph was taken in August, 1961. In New England Road is seen the St Saviour’s Mission where the last service had been held on Whit Sunday, 1961. This was built in 1874 and in 1920 it was licensed and affiliated to St Saviour’s church, Ditchling Road.

Comments about this page

  • This is not Elder place that was bombed.I lived in Elder street, and elder Place was very narrow with only half of the other end with terraced houses.I was born at 20 Elder street in 1945 and remember playing in the ruins at the end of Elder place.

    By Alan Cribb (14/05/2018)
  • Sorry Alan but the top photo is elder place, you can see the church in the background which confirms it.

    By Peter Groves (15/05/2018)
  • Hi Peter, As mentioned 2015 I lived in Elder street. My rear bedroom over looked Elder Place and I would climb over the wall as my friend lived in Elder Place, next to a flat roofed factory, which was directly to my right from my bedroom.Elder Place only had houses on one side as the Elder Street houses backyards backed on to one side of Elder Place.
    If I turned to face south, I would see( St Bartholmews after demolition.)I think the photo after the demolition of these streets is “back to front” as the long viaduct bridge could only have been behind me if I faced south to see St Barts church.But, the photo shows the main entrance, and as this was on the south side it could not be seen from Elder St or Place as there was our school there.. The viaduct would be BEHIND to the north and St Barts in front to the south, (if standing in Elder st or Place.)
    Elder Place certainly was not bombed as the entire lenght of houses on one side,(right side facing ST BArts) and remained in tact until demolished.So it is imposible for Elder Place to be in the photo of Elder Place being the place that was bombed.
    As I mentioned, I actually played in the bombed house and it was a single house or maybe two, but Elder Place was untouched and I could still run the entire length.
    I can only say Peter there is some confusion in the maps direction, but this still doesnt make sense.
    There is a Google site that gives all the locations of about 40 places when Germany bombed Brighton.
    17.03. 2020

    By Alan Cribb (17/03/2020)
  • I think I should grovel and apologise to “Peter” re Elder Place being bombed. I have been confusing it with Elder Row.
    So Peters photo is correct and I was completly and utterly wrong!!!
    So…very sorry to you Peter.

    Alan Cribb

    By Alan Cribb (17/03/2020)
  • No problem Alan and no apology required, the church in the background is not St Barts (I thought that at first) it’s St Saviour Mission on the bottom of New England Road, and the photos are all looking north.

    By Peter Groves (17/03/2020)
  • Hi Peter, thanks for your big heart, I would like to take advantage of it. I have tried to order 15 A4 images of my home in Brighton from being born in 1945 to when it was demolished. These are from VOL 10A 166-180, but neither email is responding. Can you email the correct address to order these? Thank you. Also, I have some questions later that you might find titilate your adventurism for detail. Hopefully, the ardent followers of our Brightonian origins might solve some (CHAPTER 1)??. Thanks

    By Alan Cribb (18/03/2020)
  • Hi Alan, the James Gray photos are now available through the Regency Society, the email address is here: they might be free if they are for your own use, but please check with them!

    By Peter Groves (18/03/2020)

Add a comment about this page

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