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Exploring further afield in the 1930s

I was born in 1928 at 17 Round Hill Street, a cul-de-sac halfway up Round Hill Road from the Round Hill Tavern. I remember that as a child I sometimes ventured further afield with my chums. Turning left at the bottom of Belton Road took our feet to the foot of Crescent Road where dwelt the Wrapson sisters, two very pretty girls who enjoyed playing doctors and nurses, but to my regret mouth to mouth resuscitation had not yet been invented so it was all very chaste! My parents had placed no restriction on my going as far as the Mayo Laundry and to look down on the coal yards of the railway.

The golf ball factory
However before one reached there and after passing The Cat’s Creep, on the left was a golf ball factory. One could stand in the doorway and watch yard upon yard of elastic being wound to form around the core. During the war it became an ARP post for the wardens who patrolled the district. If we ventured down Wakefield Road we encountered near the Upper Lewes Road an abandoned house which we regarded as haunted.  It must have been abandoned many years before the 30s because it was collapsing into ruins and I am sure has left no trace, Perhaps someone has researched its history?

Junction of Ditchling Road and Hollingdean Road: late 1930s

Exploring Hollingbury
That was about the limit of our easterly expeditions. To the north we had Hollingbury to explore. The trolley buses finally went up to a turning circle at the junction of the Ditchling Road and Surrenden Road.  Just south of Surrenden Road stood what we called our ‘Camp’. In fact it was a small piece of neglected woodland, which held an old tree stump which was our central rallying point. It also gave a good view to the west where the Boy Scouts held a jamboree.

Wandering in the woods
To wander over to the woods , the golf course and the allotments was a great delight. There were trees to climb, golfers, tennis players and lawn bowlers to watch with free use of our catapults – I never left home without one. I remember a day with Peter Fenemore, who became a distinguished university researcher in New Zealand, when we followed the path through the allotments in the sunshine observing the abundance of lizards. On another occasion I fell over near Five Ways and my gashed leg was bound up by a kindly Army medical orderly and his mother who lived just round the corner from my old friend Dennis Hines who followed his father’s footsteps into the Brighton Police – we share birthdates. His sister was a most distinguished person but died far too early in life.

The end of the idyll
I can scarcely believe the carefree existence  in which we indulged until 1939 put an end to the idyll which was when I changed from Ditchling Road School to Varndean. No more playing marbles in the gutter on the way home; no more putting halfpennies on the tram lines in the hope of producing pennies;  no more familiar ‘clang, clang’ from the tram whirring past.

Endless memories
Who recalls Miss Haffenden, Head of Infant School, or Miss Renno, Head of Junior School ? When I last called there in 2007 they produced a photograph and asked, “Do you know who these are ?” It was easy ! They were my class ! So we sorted out a few names and the mystery was solved. Keith Bedford from that class is still going strong in Norfolk and I am sure there must be others; perhaps George Bowles is still with us? I do hope so. Round Hill left me with enough memories to keep my brain busy on those nights when sleep is a reluctant visitor which is why I applaud the pioneers of My Brighton and Hove for their enterprise and unselfishness in this endeavour. (written from Phuket, Thailand)

Comments about this page

  • I lived in Crescent Road from 1944-1961, a little after the ‘famous sisters’ however I was there during the smallpox outbreak that caused the deaths of workers at the Tivoli Laundry in Crescent Road. I remember the fumigators at houses a few doors from us- we lived at 44, tradesmen delivering at the bottom of the street eg bakers, milkman etc. Also I recall that my birthday party that should have been held in January was postponed until March.

    By Evelyn Anning (09/02/2010)
  • Dear Kenneth, Dennis Hines was my grandfather, and due to growing up on a different continent to him I had no idea about most of his early life. Do you have any other articles in which you have mentioned things about him? I would dearly love any other information you have about his days as a boy in Brighton!

    By David Hines (04/10/2015)
  • I have been trying to track down the Golf Ball Factory as my mother has just passed away and she has mentioned it as she was occupied in there when she was about 14 – 16 years old.

    She said there was a big golf ball hanging over the front door. But this was a actually a disguised ammunition factory. She shined shell cases within the walls.

    I asked her about Air Raids and she confirmed there were many in Brighton. When the Luftwaffe made their raids she hid under the table and other girls hid in the corners!

    She got fed up with the factory life and joined the Land Army 2 years earlier by telling a fib about her age.

    By Paul Holman (11/08/2019)

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