A potted history

The View from Highcroft Villas looking north

Built on the top of a railway cutting
Highcroft Villas (of Dyke Road Drive) runs along the top of a railway cutting offering good views of Preston Park and Preston Village. This view is from the Villas looking north across the allotments above the London to Brighton line.

Built for the upper middle class
The imposing semi-detatched, red brick houses which line the street were built in the 1880s for upper middle class residents. An 1885 street directory lists a reverend gentleman and military officers amongst inhabitants.

The former Preston Windmill
At the top of Highcroft Villas are Lambourne’s Old Mill Works which were named after the former Preston Windmill that stood on the site. This was originally erected at Belle View (where Regency Square is now), but – following complaints from residents – it was towed over land by 36 oxen on 28 March 1797 to stand on its new site until it was demolished in 1881.

Comments about this page

  • First I’ve ever heard of a windmill being in this road!

    By Paul B (04/02/2007)
  • When they took the windmill away, was it reconstructed elsewhere? Are you sure it was on Highcroft Villas? If so, where? Also do you have any information about the road we live on, Inwood Crescent?

    By Katy, Inwood Crescent (11/04/2007)
  • My father Frederick Giles was born at number 11 Inwood Crescent on January 28th 1917. I went there once to see where he was born. Nice place. Never could find out anything about him though he did go to the local Grammar School. Even in those years the place was quite up market.

    By Frederick Giles (21/09/2007)
  • I now live in a development named, Old Mill Mews which is on the site where I remember Lambourne & Ridley Enginerring works being. This is directly behind the Dyke Tavern Pub. I was wondering if this was the site of a windmill as I’ve been unable to find any pictures or plans to suggest that a windmill was on this site.

    By Martin Colbourne (06/01/2010)
  • My first job after leaving school was at Lambourne and Ridley’s, 1963-64. I remember the names Gerry, Barry, Jack and Dennis Martin, Lionel Standen, Bob Stevens, both Franks, Charlie Bashford, Len Swain, Ken, others too but memory faded.

    By Roger Simmonds (18/08/2010)
  • I lived in 42 Highcroft Villas for 20 yrs until 2002. My researches in the local reference library indicated that the windmill was on the site of the new buildings built since 2002. It had previously been owned by the brewery that also owned the Dyke Tavern. The windmill was dismantled and rebuilt on Clayton Hill, it being either Jack or Jill, can’t recall exactly. Also of local interest is the old Lambourne & Ridley building, it was the only production car builder in Brighton unless its demise between the wars. There are maps in the library showing the site of the windmill. Hope this helps.

    By Ron Howland (23/09/2010)
  • That’s great information. If anyone has any (especially old) photos of Lambourne & Ridley’s, or the brewery I’d love to see them.

    By Martin Colbourne (14/03/2011)
  • Old Mill cars (steam) were built here early 1900s from 1890s’sh. Mr Lambourne (Albert I believe) made these prior to going into general engine reboring etc. I started there in 1958 (my second job). I was first working for (BMW) Isetta of Gt. Britain, in the old loco sheds at Brighton Station. The jib for lifting the sacks of grain for milling was still there and being used to lift engines in and out of the fitting shop on the top floor. There was some of the original stone and brick flooring from when it was a mill on the ground floor, some of it had been covered by the erection of a bomb shelter, we used to store coke in here to warm the works in winter. I hadn’t heard of a brewery connection before until reading of it on this site. I recall however the Dyke Road Hotel had a glass window pane with Beards Brewery etched on it (taken over by Harveys of Lewes I recall).

    By Graham Ingram (04/07/2011)
  • I lived in Highcroft Villas for 17 years!  We had a maisonette for £15 a month!!!  Fabulous views to Preston Park and we loved to sit and watch the cafe in the park at night changing to all the rainbow colours little by little.  Life was so nice then.  People liked each other and had time for one another.  Now it’s all rush rush rush and lots of violence.  How I love those good old days before all that.

    By Cathy (22/10/2018)
  • There were 3 windmills along the Dyke Road: Lashmar’s Mill, Preston (aka Black) Mill and Port Hall Mill.

    Lashmar’s Mill was sited adjacent to the current Prestonville Court, (its said that at times its possible to see the marks of the mill’s foundations in the grass), this was the mill which was moved to Clayton in c1852 where it still stands today as Jill Mill.

    It was John Streeter who had the old West Mill moved from Belle Vue Fields (now Regency Square) to a new site in Miller’s Road, a little east of the old Dyke Road Hotel. Streeter’s Mill became known as ‘Preston’ or ‘Black’ Mill, the latter help distinguish it from the nearby Port Hall and Lashmar’s Mill which were both white. This mill was demolished by Joseph Harris in 1881 and some of the machinery used in the erection of his new tower mill at Patcham. As Graham mentioned above some of the foundations remained in evidence at the Lambourne and Ridley All Mill Works which covered the site. Also, inset into the floor within the garage was part of the circular iron track around which the old mill’s fan tail turned. Stephen Gorringe noted that some parts have been incorporated into the new flats but I’ve not be able to gain any further information on this as to whether they still survive.

    Port Hall Mill stood on the north side of what’s now the junction of Port Hall Road, on the north side of a house known as ‘Port Hall’. It was pulled down in c1888 with a pair of sweeps reputedly installed onto the Race Hill Mill. The outbuildings were reputedly used afterwards by the Grand Hotel as a laundry. The mill yard was then used as stables and nowadays as garages.

    By Justin Brice (11/02/2020)
  • Does anyone know the history of Highcroft House, now the HQ for Sussex ACF in Quebec Barracks, Dyke Road.

    By Graham Moore (04/06/2020)
  • I lived in no. 32 Highcroft Villas from 1966-76 and the main line from Hove to London ran beneath our flat and the first night we heard this rumble and thought it was an earthquake. The Army drill hall grounds backed onto us and was in use most nights. Lovely memories.

    By GERALD MILLARD (11/07/2020)

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