Desperate pockets of poverty
Islingword Road Mission was where I spent so much of my childhood and youth. Someone once asked me if I knew what the area was like in the Victorian and Edwardian era. The presence of the ‘Mission’ is certainly indicative of how it was seen by the Victorians who founded it. Even in the late 1960s and early 1970s, despite the youthful gentrifying effects of Brighton’s higher education boom, the area had desperate pockets of poverty.
Survivors of Edwardian population
I recall that every year at Christmas the young men of the Mission used to prepare bags of firewood for distribution to the elderly. Many of the recipients were widowed and were the remnants of Hanover’s Edwardian population. I recall as a teenager entering the home of one desperately poor bed-ridden old woman, who lived in a single room of a house just downhill from the junction with Southampton Street, whose situation was far from unique.
Does poverty have a smell?
Besides the obvious visual and material effects, poverty has a particular smell that I can recall now, and that sad woman’s living conditions matched anything found in more obviously notorious areas such as London’s East End. I seem to remember there was a family greengrocery business, with links across Brighton and a base in the wholesale market a the bottom of Southover Street? We used to go to the School Medical Service in a building adjacent to this.