Once formed an ancient trackway

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

e) PRESTON DROVE: Preston Drove, together with Middle Road, the Drove (the steepest road in Brighton with a maximum gradient of approximately 1:4 {109}), and the Droveway, once formed an ancient trackway across the parish from Lewes to Portslade. It is now lined with substantial red-brick housing. The Blaker Recreation Ground covers 4.44 acres, the gift of Sir John Blaker in 1893, and was opened by the mayor, Sir Joseph Ewart, on 3 November 1894. Blaker also gave £1,000 for the erection of the fifty-foot-high iron clock tower which he himself inaugurated as mayor on 15 September 1896; below the cupola and dolphin weather vane is Blaker’s monogram. One of Blaker’s conditions on the gift was that the sale of intoxicating liquor should not be allowed. {126,147}

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • I am sure there are steeper roads in Brighton, what about Albion Hill, or Upper Abbey Road? I’ve never thought Preston Drove was that steep, looks may be deceiving.

    By Peter James (14/10/2007)
  • This view is actually of Knoyle Road, Preston, looking down from Bavant Road towards the West. You can see the spire of St John’s Church on the left. The view is probably pre-War, but certainly not as old as 1920!

    Editor’s note: Thanks for your identification of this image. The description, and he photograph are as they appear on the Brighton & Hove in pictures collection hosted by the Brighton & Hove City Library Service. Part of our agreement for use is that we reproduce this material verbatim and so duplicate any errors.

    By Martin Nimmo (15/10/2007)
  • It’s The Drove that’s the steep part – from opposite the PDSA to Dyke Road. Numbers 8, 9 & 10 used to be 1, 2 & 3, I believe, and I have a photo showing a view of the area which just shows no. 8 as a coal merchant. Does anyone have any more information? The Drove is not mentioned anywhere else I can find!

    By Lisa Kent (09/02/2008)
  • In 1944, my family shifted from Richmond Road (lost our windows in bomb blast) and moved to rent a house at 159 Preston Drove opposite Blakers Park. The garden was long and narrow and had an entrance in Hythe Road? As the lady owner would not rent her house to anyone with children, my brother and I hid when she came once a week to collect the rent. During the air raids we went into the food larder that was at the back of the kitchen for so called protection. I remember the house well and my sister recently visited Brighton and said the house was there and apart from a coat of paint looked very much the same.

    By Jennifer Goddard nee Norrell (11/02/2008)
  • I see that Jennifer Goddard lived at No.159 Preston Drove. At the beginning of the war I was evacuated to Brighton and billeted in No.163 with a Mr and Mrs Vigar. I wonder if that house still looks the same?

    By Brian Bloxam (31/03/2008)
  • The name Vigar does not ring any bells. The Reeves Family lived at 161 Preston Drove during the war. Nice lady who used to invite me in for a cake or two. Had a large white fluffy cat. In the early 50s the Reeves family owned a 12 inch black/white TV. I sat watching the Coronation of Elizabeth II for the whole day. I had never seen Television before and thought that the Reeves family was very rich to own one.

    By Jennifer Goddard (nee Norrell) (01/10/2008)
  • The Drove aka “Black Hill”, certainly the uppermost part above the junction with Kingsley Road must be one of the steepest inhabited areas of the UK. My first home was at #3, which later was renumbered 12. I lived there from 1941 until 1951. My grandparents remained there until my grandfathers death about 1960. I remember riding an old wreck of a bike down the hill when the brakes failed forcing me to jump off near Kingsley Road. Also when we had snow people sledged down the hill, rather them than me.

    By Raymond (Dickie) Bird (03/11/2008)
  • I don’t remember you Dickie – but I lived in Scarborough Road during that time – and remember sledging down the Drove (Black Hill) – and shooiting across Robertson Rd / Millers Rd at the bottom by Boswells paper shop. Thank goodness there were very few cars in those days. Happy memories.

    By Dave Blackford (16/11/2008)
  • Does anyone remember the Wrights who used to live at Preston Drove? Any memories would be gladly received. Thanks.

    By Wendy Slaughter (05/05/2009)
  • I lived at 77 Preston Drove, just a little further up from this view near the Park View Hotel. In one of the nearest houses shown in this photo lived the Page family;I was friendly with Mike Page to some extent,and even more so to his dog ‘Roamer’. Mike’s sister was the very popular, and successful singer Jill Day.

    By John Starley (09/09/2013)
  • If you look at a map of Brighton, Hove and Portslade, you will notice that Preston Drove aligns well with The Drove, The Droveway (across Hove Park) and The Drove in Portslade. Today’s Neville Avenue, I believe, formed a part of this cattle driving route from the west side of Hove Park, up to the farm at West Blatchington, for watering, after which the cattle were turned along Hangleton Road towards The Grenadier. Then down West Way, across what is now Greenleas Park and along Hangleton Lane up to Foredown, where Portslade’s Drove took them on towards Shoreham Harbour.

    By Alan Phillips (27/03/2023)
  • I think it was some time in the 1940’s that my mum and her family lived in a house called Rock Bank in Preston Drove. The family’s name was Mackenzie. I don’t know if this was a house or flats. Unfortunately I don’t remember the number of the house but I think it would be a higher number as it was nearer to Fiveways. It overlooked the top part of Blaker’s Park, had a rather long tiled path down to the pavement and had the words Rock Bank written on a glass pane above the door. I’ve always rather liked the name of this house and it’s stayed in my mind. I thought it might be nice to hear from other people who might have lived at this address over the intervening years. Is it in fact still there, is it a house or flats, does it still have the name Rock Bank, if so, does anyone know how this name might have originated.

    By Carolyn Jones (07/09/2023)

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