My Brighton childhood

Me racing snails in the back garden at Tivoli Crescent
From the private collection of Sid Griffiths
25 Southdown Avenue, my old home, is on the right
From the private collection of Sid Griffiths

Born in 1931

My parents were from Monmouthshire, after they got married in 1929 they moved to Brighton. I had an uncle living in Brighton at the time; he was the Chauffeur to the Mayor of Brighton. I was born in Southdown Avenue Brighton in 1931. I also had a sister born there, but she died when she was only three days old. In 1935 we moved to Tivoli Crescent. Sadly I had another sister born there but she died at eleven days old.

New house in Sunninghill Avenue

In 1938 my parents bought a new house in Sunninghill Avenue Hove, and I went to Ellen Street School off Sackville Road. Ellen Street School was demolished to make way for the blocks of flats that became known as ‘Conway Street Flats’. Ellen Street School had it’s own underground air raid shelter, but the lighting was so poor we couldn’t have lessons. If the all clear had not sounded before the end of the school day a teacher had to take us home.

Sweet rationing

I used to purchase some sweets from the local sweet shop on my way home from school. One day I went in for some sweets and they asked for my ration book, I said what’s that they said sweets are now rationed and you can’t have any unless you have a ration book. Well I thought the bottom had fallen out of my world.

Dad worked for Southdown buses

My Father, Jim Griffiths, drove the Southdown buses out of Pool Valley bus depot. In the summer months Dad, and his friend Bert Eagar from Portslade, parked their coaches by the angel on the Brighton/Hove boarder. They looked quite smart in their white coats and hats, They had a blackboard placed against the front wheel of the coach informing holiday makers the trips out that day. Of course these coach trips came to and end in1939/40 when the war started.

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  • I remember walking along the front, holding my foster mother’s hand, of a warm sunny evening, looking at all those boards, and when we came to one marked Mystery Tour we would climb aboard and inevitably it would go up to the Devil’s Dyke first and then who knew where we would end up? I remember once we passed a house with a tree growing out of its chimney but I could never find it again. Wonderful days! Then the war came and even the front was banned to us because it was full of troops watching for the invasion. The beach was mined and the first beach to be cleared after the war was the one in front of the Aquarium. There was just one light then and no lamps on the front. So we would go down there with a pass-out ticket while dancing at the Aquarium, and go skinny-dipping, afterwards putting on our dresses while still wet and with all our hairdos ruined, back to dancing – jiving and a bit of jitterbugging to warm us up. We passed our evenings between dancing at the Aquarium, the Regent to good old Syd Dean, and then skating at the Ice Rink! Those were our days!

    By Dorothy Hobbs (nee Stevens) (12/02/2011)
  • Southdown Avenue was my route to school (the Downs) as well as to Scouts (7th Brighton) who held their sessions at the Methodist church basement at the corner of Southdown Avenue and Stanford Avenue.  Blaker’s Park was also a favorite destination but we used Southdown to get to Fiveways and Hollingbury woods further on. I loved the houses – especially the types shown in the picture. I used to live at 71 Springfield Rd, near the south end of Southdown Avenue.  The back gardens of houses on Southdown Ave backed onto ours. I remember being the sole witness to a bad car accident after Scouts one evening.  A green Morris Minor van hurtled past me heading north along Southdown Ave. The speed and engine noise made me watch it and I had a terrible premonition at that moment that he was going to hit something coming up Grantham Rd. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened. The van accelerated through the intersection and it slammed into a Rover coming up Grantham Rd.  I was the only one who saw what happened.

    By Phil Allsopp (25/01/2015)

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