Growing up in the 1930s

The front of 34 Newick Road as seen nowadays by its proud inhabitants
From the private collection of Ron Spicer

Further up Newick Road (number 5?) were the Killicks. Johnny was mad keen on the cinema and became an usher at the Regent Cinema. We got the odd free cinema seat through him! Continuing to almost the end of the road there were the Jame’s. My age at this stage was probably seven.

Learning the facts of life
Ronnie James accompanied me to Sunday school, or so the parents thought. He found that I went discovering the area instead. The older brother confirmed for me how babies arrived, explaining that it was down to the parents’ actions in the most graphic fashion and adding that if they didn’t do it then it would be the doctor!

The Gocart craze
Ronnie’s dad was a GPO engineer – one of the most well off in the district. He built a four wheeler (Gocart), expertly done and fully painted blue. It started a craze amongst the rest of us and dad Jack built one for us. It had a restraint system on the steering rope which helped to prevent the dangerous wobble that such creations had when travelling at any speed. We found that, with as many as four children aboard, we needed a better braking system so, unbeknown to dad Jack, two old bike saddles were sought out from one of the local dumps for dropping, upside down, under the back wheels in an emergency. We then used to go up Coldean Lane to the very hilly section and enjoy the ride. Cuts and bruises were the order of the day. But what a thrill!

Forbidden fruits
There were two dumps on the top of the hills over the back of Falmer. One was for fish, a very smelly dump with contaminated wooden boxes. The other dump was for fruit and veg and was the source of our wooden boxes for building “four wheelers.” The waste was simply amazing. Good job our parents didn’t find out how much of the fruit we ate. Nobody died from it so far as I know. Oranges and apples, pears, lemons, and some fruits I didn’t know the name of for years afterwards. Those dumps were later removed, probably through the auspices of morally guided people who didn’t realize how much we enjoyed them.

Anti-aircraft trenches
At the beginning of WWII, the whole area, which was completely smooth and flat, allowing a red monoplane to occasionally land, had large trenches dug to prevent the landing of enemy aircraft. The piles of earth resulting from them surrounded the searchlights which were then installed.

Comments about this page

  • My grandparents, Albert and Flo Hubbard, lived, I think, at No. 85 Newick Road. They had a big family (13 I believe) who all lived in what was basically a two up, two down as far as I remember.  I used to visit a lot as a child and had some great times playing in Wild Park. My dad is Lenny Hubbard, he’s still alive, a bit of a wizard at bowls and living with my mum Lyn (ex Whitehawk schoolteacher) in Woodingdean. My sisters are Dawn, Wendy and Gayle, they all still live in Brighton, but I now teach sport in Spain.

    By Paul Hubbard (02/10/2008)
  • Hi Paul. We’ve ‘met’ elsewhere hereabouts but I thought I’d confirm the house detail just one little bit more: a scullery (nowadays the kitchen), then living room called the kitchen, and a ‘front room’ filling the downstairs area. Upstairs: two bedrooms at the front and one at the rear with an airing cupboard with heater fed from a coal fire and back boiler in the kitchen. Then adjacent toilet and separate bathroom next to that. 13 children … !

    By Ron Spicer (13/10/2008)
  • Yes, Ron, I remember it well. My Nan used to bake cakes and there was a small area just inside the ‘scullery’ kitchen door where she would leave them to cool. It had a sort of slope on it and was also where she kept the toys for us kids.  We were always trying to nick a cake a bit too soon and I suppose the phrase ‘fingers burned’ comes to mind.  My grandad had almost an allotment in his back garden. I especially remember the rhubarb he grew. My dad has his medals from WW1 and pictures of him on his horse as he served in the Cavalry. Lying about his age to serve his country aged only 16. I have to agree about 13 children. Utter madness. My two drive me crazy!  I also remember a photo (I’m in it aged about three) of the Hubbard family going on an outing. They had to hire a bus and it made the local rag at the time. Possibly the Argus or the Gazette. Mr and Mrs Yeates lived next door to my grandparents I think.

    By Paul Hubbard (09/11/2008)
  • I’ve recently chatted to my older sister, Bet, who is nearly 90, and she remembers Gladys Hubbard from her school days. According to Bet, the family were Jehova Witnesses which eventually caused a drifting apart from some of the local friends.

    By Ron Spicer (06/04/2009)
  • Hi Ron. Yes the Jehovas Witness bit is partly true. My Gran became a Witness in the ’60s, but my Grandad never did. Of their 13 children the split was almost down the middle. My dad Len was not ‘converted’. Nor were Tony (in Australia), Dennis, Tommy, Peter, Jean or Ronnie. Wally, Albert, Ann, Flo and Gladys certainly were. I’ve missed one somewhere? This may seem incredible, but even here in Spain we are ‘doorstepped’ by the Witnesses occasionally, and they all seem to know the Hubbards of Brighton. I gently tell them that I’ve heard all the arguments and it’s not my cup of tea, and they leave me alone. I’m pretty sure that I have many cousins and their families still involved in the movement in Brighton though. Nice to hear from you again Ron.

    By Paul Hubbard (17/06/2009)
  • Ron….I dont know if you are the same one. I was going through my Nan’s photo albums last week and she showed me a picture of her at one of her sibling’s weddings in Brighton. Her name was Sheila Jean Wheatland and her date for the wedding was Ron Spicer. Is this you and, if so, do you remember her?!

    By Shelley Priestley (23/09/2009)
  • Hi Shelley – I certainly remember Sheila. A very pretty girl. We were ‘together’ (Fleet Air Arm service intervened) for quite some time but eventually parted. I often wondered what happened to Sheila and would always wish her well. If there is a chance of communicating with her I would welcome it!

    By Ron Spicer (14/10/2009)
  • Hello Ron. Thankyou for getting back to me. My Nan has been waiting to hear something back from you. Have you got an e-mail address? Mine is So if you want to e-mail me, I can give you Sheila’s postal address or something, and you two could perhaps write to each other to share what’s been happening since then.

    By Shelley Priestley (18/10/2009)
  • I’ve responded via email to you Shelley (was hoping Sheila would also have an email address … ). Anyway, thanks for the initiative. I’m sure matters will happily evolve. Very good of you. Ron.

    By Ron Spicer (19/10/2009)
  • Hello Ron Spicer and Dave Goble. Two names that ring a bell with my memories of Moulsecoomb in the thirties and forties. I lived at no 71 Newick from 1928 to 48 with my brother Charlie and sister Blanche. And then my youngest sister Winnie arrived in 1941. Well I remember the Hubbards at No 85 particularly Ron, Wally and Gladys all about my age (I’m now in my eighties). Ron played football for England schoolboys. Oh for the days of tab a go, marbles and the four wheeler, the days when you made your own amusement / entertainment and the roads were clear enough to do so. Also recall Moppett’s sweet barrow at the end of Newick Road and Bill Pryor’s vegetable stall, he lost a leg in the first world war. Sadly on a visit there recently most of the original ‘front gardens’ are now used for car parking. I note your comment re Ted Hyams the local bobby who was respected, firm but fair. The other two bobbies to cover Moulsecoomb then were Bill Sole and ‘Cheesman’- I forget his christian name. That was before East Moulsecoomb was built. I have a copy of ‘Moulsecoomb Memories’ by Sheila Winter (nee Watkins) and found it very nostalgic and remember a lot of the items you recall, Sheila. Thanks

    By Fred Woolven (03/12/2009)
  • Hi Fred. Ron Hubbard was my uncle, Sadly no longer with us. He was all set to sign for West Ham in 1939 at the start of the war.  Six years later it was too late. I’d love to know what happened to his three England caps. Do you remember Mr and Mrs Yeats who lived next door to my grandparents?

    By paul hubbard (23/12/2009)
  • Hi Paul. I should correct my original satement bearing in mind your grandparents lived at No 86 (not 85) and yes I remember well Roy Yeats who lived next door at No 88. Sorry to hear Ron has passed on.

    By Fred Woolven (29/12/2009)
  • Hi Fred. Thanks for that little bit more. Bill Sole had a son who later became a local bobby for the area. He met my sister, Bet at The Avenue where she lives and swapped stories from the past.

    By Ron Spicer (06/02/2010)
  • Hello Paul hope you see this. Just found your entries about your family, so nice to read. I knew several of them, Wally, Gladys and Ron in particular-they were a smashing lot. My Mum converted early 50s and I went too. Like you though I no longer participate and hold the callers at bay. I got to know Gladys very well, she and several other ladies were great friends of my mother, I think it was from Hove congregation from the 1960s until my Mum died in 1997. Over those many years when I visited Mum in Brighton (I live in London) I met and chatted and laughed a great deal with Gladys, she was a wonderful lady and never tried to convert me which I so appreciated. Normal happy conversation, I enjoyed her company.

    By Joan (11/02/2010)
  • Entry above by Fred Woolven: ” . . . The other two bobbies to cover Moulsecoomb then were Bill Sole and ‘Cheesman’- I forget his christian name. That was before East Moulsecoomb was built. I have a copy of ‘Moulsecoomb Memories’ by Sheila Winter (nee Watkins) and found it very nostalgic and remember a lot of the items you recall, Sheila. Thanks. Hi Fred. Nice to know of you again after so many years. Sadly, Sheila Winter recently died. I’ve been informed by my sister-in-law, Rosa Spicer, who was a great long time friend of Sheila and who attended her funeral.

    By Ron Spicer (27/02/2010)
  • Hello again Fred. Sadly Sheila Winter having passed away very recently, I’m sure she would have been pleased to know what you thought of her little book. Hold onto it. It won’t be repeated.

    By Ron Spicer (01/03/2010)
  • Hi Joan. It seems that almost annually now one of the family passes on. My dad(Len) was here in Spain to visit us last month and he is looking frail, although he is still quite active for 78 and plays bowls for Woodingdean Bowls club. I always liked my auntie Glad, she was a nice lady. No frills and very honest. Did you know my grandfather, Albert? I only remember him as a big fierce bloke who scared me half to death. I was told that he joined up to fight in the first World War at 14 years old, lying about his age. Nobody talks about it much, but my dad has his medals.

    By Paul Hubbard (02/05/2010)
  • Hello again Paul, nice to get your reply. I’m not sure if I ever met Albert but I certainly knew his name. The other name I remember was Wally. From your comment it seems that Gladys is no longer with us – is that right or am I reading it wrong, I hope so.

    By Joan Cumbers (13/05/2010)
  • It’s a pleasure to read all the anecdotes about Newick Road. I was born at 144 in 1930 and was there until 1955 when I got married. My parents Mary and Fred lived there from 1926 until well into the 80’s. I had 2 brothers, Alf who now lives in Coldean, and Peter who sadly passed away a few years ago. The mention of Mr. Hyams the local Bobby reminded me of the time when a friend of mine and myself (we were about 7 or 8) were caught by our neighbour throwing mud pats at his front door (don’t ask me why) and he told my parents who sent me to bed early without my tea, and also that the neighbour had told Mr Hyams, and he was going to come round that evening. I well remember the door knocker going and my Mum shouted up to me, telling me it was Mr Hyams and she said she would tell him I was asleep. I sat shivering in my bed and they said he would take further action if I ever did it again. I still to this day do not know if it was true, and never will now, but I learned my lesson that day. But I thought every time I saw him on his walkabout that he gave me a funny look, as if to say “I’ve got my eye on you”.

    By Roy Dibley (31/05/2010)
  • Hello again Joan. Sadly my Auntie Glad died some years back. Tommy was the most recent to pass on. My aunties Jean and Ann (the youngest of the 13) and Uncles Dennis, Tony, Peter and my dad Len are still alive. I am a teacher here in Spain and when I tell my unruly year ten students what my grandfather was in the trenches during the Great War at their age, they are incredulous. He lied about his age and joined up aged 15.

    By Paul Hubbard (13/06/2010)
  • Hello again Paul, haven’t looked at this site for ages so was glad I hadn’t missed your recent entry. I am so sorry to hear of Gladys’ death, my sister too sends you her sympathies. Somehow it does not surprise me to hear of your grandfather’s bravery. The Hubbard men were all fine and upstanding and although when I knew them they had all converted, they were dignified conscientious objectors and unafraid of being recognised as such.

    By Joan Cumbers (25/06/2010)
  • Hello Joan. Thanks for replying. My dad is Len who was born in 1933 and much too young to fight in WW2. Peter, Dennis and Tony also were too young. I don’t think any of them were Witnesses, but I couldn’t be sure and you would probably know better. Finding out details of my Gran (Florence Hubbard) has not been easy and I’d appreciate any memories or information you might have on her. I just remember her being very small and baking wonderful cakes. I hope you are well.

    By Paul Hubbard (04/07/2010)
  • I have found it very enjoyable reading about Moulsecoomb in the old days. My father Michael Taggart was brought up in number 44, Newick Road by Violet and Jim Marchant. If anyone has memories then let me know and I will pass it on to my dad.

    By Paul Taggart (07/07/2010)
  • Does anyone remember the Whelans they lived at the bottom of the cinder path in Newick Road?

    By Jackie Noakes (29/07/2010)
  • Hi Paul. I can remember a Michael. Coloured lad. Very good looking. Yes, he would have lived along Newick Road from my house (number 34) just past the corner leading out to the main road so it would have been about number 44; and yes, the Marchant family were the occupants. A very likeable boy and very active. Sorry about the delay in replying. Hadn’t noticed your input.

    By Ron Spicer (29/07/2010)
  • I was fascinated to read your memories of Moulsecoombe. Hi, Fred Wolven. I didn’t know you lived at No.71 Newick Road. So did I - from approx 1971 till I married in 1976. My family continued to live there until the house was converted into flats. I also know of Ron Hubbard and Alf Dibley from Coldean. My main connection is the Thompson family of Chailey Road. My mum is Daisy. Ken and Jack still live at No.32. Sadly only four of the family are left out of eight boys and three girls. A friend of mine from Hassocks lives opposite a Colin Sayers, also from possibly Chailey Road but we are not sure which Sayers family he is from. We only know of Hilda from No.26, but believe there were others.

    By Sandra Hutchings (16/09/2010)
  • My grandad, Stan Goble, lived at 112 Newick road and my nan, Elizabeth Goble. They had 3 kids, Reggie, Vic and Betty during WW2. My Auntie Betty met a Canadian soldier who was based over Stanmer park just before the Dday landings. After the war Betty got married to the canadian soldier known as Pete then she moved to Canada. Unfortunately, she died a few years ago. I had good times at my nan and grandad’s, I was always down there in the summer holidays – it was a great place. If anyone has any info on my nan and grandad, I would be so grateful.

    By Dave Goble (22/10/2010)
  • I remember your dad well. Have not seen him for many years but was told by many that he used to run from Newick Road to Brighton station every morning. So good to know he is still with us.

    By Don Smith (19/11/2010)
  • Hello Dave Goble. I think I’m remembering your granddad, Stan, from 112 Newick Road. Didn’t he have a sister named Betty? A real corker! He would have been aged about 85 now. Went to Moulescoomb School in the 1930s. Didn’t have far to go to get to the sweet barrow that the Moppets always positioned at the end of Newick Road by Ringmer Road at beginning and ending of school times – or so he once told me! I also think he was in Miss Horton’s class in the Junior Mixed School the same time as me. A quiet, firm minded lad at that time.

    By Ron Spicer (11/02/2012)
  • Just want to correct something said by Paul Hubbard. I’m friendly with quite a few members of the Hubbard family and would like to reassure their friends that Ron, Gladys and Florence are still very much alive!

    By Janet Beal (14/05/2012)
  • Hi Ron, hope you don’t mind me asking, but do you recall the Richardsons who lived in Newick Road in the mid 30s, Ivy Richardson? Thank you

    By Shauna (16/08/2012)
  • Hi Shaune. Sorry about the delay in replying. Just looked in after quite a long time. The sad thing is I can indeed remember the name but can’t clearly put a face to it. The lad of the time I’m thinking of, if he’s still alive, would be about 85 now and would have come from parents who ran a second hand business. He would also have been in Miss Horton’s class in the Junior Mixed School at Moulsecoomb, the same time as myself. I don’t recall Ivy. Probably did meet her at some time as I was fairly friendly with the lad and walked home with him a number of times. Wish I could be of further help. I need a memory jog. Maybe someone else will chip in?

    By Ron Spicer (07/10/2012)
  • Hi Ron, do you remember my mum?  Her name was Joan Bell. She lived at 14 Stonecross Road with her sisters June and Shirley. We were living at 85 Newick Road. Mum still lives in Moulsecoomb (The Crescent).

    By Joan Dobson (19/01/2013)
  • Hello all, I just wanted to add that I am Sheila’s granddaughter, and I googled her name and book title today because I was feeling a bit low. It’s been a few years since she passed away, and I still miss her as much as I always have. Anyway, I just wanted to say how wonderful it is to see so many people who enjoyed her book and are talking so happily about the place she grew up in. I know she’d be really pleased to see this, and would probably be trying to chat to everyone…so thank you very much for making my day.

    By Melissa (07/02/2013)
  • Hi Joan (Dobson). Apologies again for the late response. I musn’t stay away so long. How could I forget your mum! She was my first girl friend at the age of 14. I used to wait in the field next to the road leading from East Mouslecoomb to North Moulsecoomb and she would hurry down the hill to me. There was the wartime Blackout and cuddles-n-kisses under the railway arch over the road leading from North Moulsecoomb to East Moulsecoomb.    That saturating, all consuming experience called puppy love which occupied the mind so devastatingly but which was destined to end in a few weeks of misery after the usual silly tiff and my vowing never again to speak! That period of exquisiteness with its visits to the Gaiety cinema and sunny day walks over the hills adjacent to our areas of abode.  I think her husband was Dennis(?) Hammond who lived in Newick Road and who would have been about 84 now. His older brother, Arthur was of my age so he would be about 86 now. I don’t know if either are still alive. You can probably say.   Joan’s sister, Shirley, married, lived at Whitehawk and had more than one child. Like Joan, she was quite a pretty, happy and communicative girl. I never met their parents even though I was with Joan for quite some time.

    By Ron Spicer (20/02/2014)
  • Hi Ron Spicer. Many thanks for your reply which I spoke to Mum about, she said to say hello to you and she hopes you are keeping well. Mum married Doug Hammond but sadly it didn’t last. She then married Terry Dobson (my father)  who lived at 85 Newick Road. Think you may have Mum’s sisters mixed up though as June was Dennis Hammond’s girlfriend but they never married. June did Marry and lived in Woodingdean and had five children. Shirley got married but didn’t have children. Dennis Hammond died a few years ago now, and Arthur died just a couple of years ago, about the same time as Shirley. My Dad died back in 1987.

    By Joan Dobson (23/02/2014)
  • Hi Joan. Very sorry to have not come  back to you before. Thanks for the  updating. It just shows how one’s memory can play tricks with names.   I’ve travelled quite a lot, away from the Net and also had a hard drive failure in my computer but that’s still no real excuse. Was Dennis the one who had two fingers joined together?   Nowadays easily separated. Maybe someone can remember and that will help me with my memory. I don’t know what your mum, Joan, finds but, in my case, it is sometimes quite strange to raise memories of the past involving close connections with anyone.

    By Ron Spicer (20/12/2014)
  • Does anyone remember “Tubby” Smith and “Boy” Mitchell who lived in odd numbered houses at Newick Road, opposite the road cutting through to the main road and Coldean Lane?   They’d both be about 87 if still alive.

    By Ron Spicer (30/12/2014)
  • I was born in 1958 and lived at 67 Newick Road on the right-hand corner as it went up the hill to Chailey Road. We lived with my Nan and Grandad (The Maskells) until they died in the mid-’60s. My aunties and uncles grew up there during the war… Jean, Molly, Joyce, Evelyn (Impy), Fred, Frank and Barbara. I remember the Woolvens mentioned, I remember my Auntie talking about Blanche.
    I too remember the Scullery (kitchen) it had a Coal hole as we called it which later used to store my and my sister’s toys. It also had a larder. The Kitchen is now the lounge and as mentioned the front room… which was not for playing in! 3 bedrooms upstairs with a separate toilet (top right of the stairs) bathroom top left of the stairs. I remember my Grandad used to keep the garden pristine, with cut lawn to the front, gooseberry, red and black currant bushes to the side and he used to grow his gladioli in the back garden. Mr and Mrs Wilson lived one side of us going up the hill, The Morely’s lived the other side of the road and had the phone box outside their house. There were also Mrs Felsin, Mrs Rinchell and Mrs Poulter(not sure of the spellings) That were friends of my Nans. When I moved to Hove in the ’90s Clive Hubbard lived opposite, he must be related to the Hubbards mentioned above as he knows my Aunties from Newick Road.
    My friends in that era were Sam O’Neil, Robin Edwards, Steve Eike, Colin Paul.
    One thing I can always remember… We never locked our doors in those days….!

    By Graeme Fothergill (03/01/2020)

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