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Has three distinct parts

Tongdean Lane in Withdean has three distinct parts; the lower part between London Road and the Sports Stadium, the middle part which faces the Stadium, and the upper part, which runs up towards Dyke Road and was always like a country lane in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The railway bridge just below the Stadium was narrow and long – the echo was attractive to young children!

The photo shows the bridge with a Southdown 112 bus, taken in 1967.
Photo from the private collection of Martin Nimmo

Comments about this page

  • The section from the junction with Valley Drive, where there used to be a post office, up to Dyke Road Avenue is still semi-rural. On the other side of the bridge from that, shown in the photo, there is still a graffito saying ‘Send Cruise back’, which must date from around that time or earlier. Younger people may wonder these days what Tom has done to deserve such a comment! But as a piece of Cold War history that has survived so long let’s hope no one sees fit to remove it now. What route did the 112 bus follow? These days the Park & Ride is the only bus that comes under the bridge.

    By David Fisher (16/01/2005)
  • I have many evocative memories of the upper part of Tongdean Lane in the period that Martin refers to. I used the go and pick blackberries there in season and it always seemed a little bit of country and at the time remarkably untouched.

    By Edward Castle-Herbert (11/05/2007)
  • Having just seen Edward Castle-Herbert’s note about Tongdean Lane, I wonder where he used to pick blackberries? I lived up the top from 1934 to 1954, it was truly rural for most of this time in fact opposite us was fields, now houses, and at the back we could see right across to Patcham Mill. During my stay the bus was a Number 12 which used to terminate at the end of the road in Dyke Road for many years until it took a route down Valley Drive. I have vivid memories of the time especially during the war with trips over the Downs looking for military goodies. All to our present day minds very hazardous and it was, in retrospect.

    By Michael Hooper (17/11/2007)
  • I want to know what was on the land in Tongdean Lane in the past, before there were flats built there?

    By Jude (31/01/2008)
  • There were a number of bungalows and private houses, which were eventually purchased by developers. At the London road junction stood the vast and scarey Panzer Mansions, and a small cafe in the gate house with a juke box, selling frothy coffee. The left hand side was an old iron foundry, of which I have a painting.

    By Benedict Moll (05/02/2008)
  • I used to live next door to Panzer Mansions. My mum would take me to the cafe which sold coffee etc.,but downstaires was a nightclub which was owned by Rene and George and they had a large poodle called Leon. I remember it so well as I was fascinated as a child by all the fairy lights behind the bar. My mum used to sit me in the corner while she had a drink with Rene and I met a lot of ‘interesting people. Incredible Brighton characters and it was another ‘fairy world’ for me. I loved being taken down there. I suppose I was about 6-8 years old. I still have a fascination for fairy lights and I always knew why. I miss those happy people. Life was so different then! That was 57 years ago…

    By Pamla Pettifer (26/08/2008)
  • Does anyone have any recollections of seeing an apparition emerging from or going under the bridge? As a police officer in the early ’80s I recall seeing a well dressed Victorian gentleman walking up Tongdean Lane about 3am in the morning and then as he walked under the railway bridge he completely disappeared. I do not believe in ghosts but I still have not worked out where he went to!

    By Simon (07/06/2010)
  • The café referred to by both Benedict Moll and Pamla Pettifer was called the ‘Rendezvous’. I do not recall ever seeing the apparition referred to by Simon, but just below the bridge was a bungalow outside which a young man (Roy) with cerebral palsy used to sit in his wheelchair all day watching and calling to passers-by. It obviously gave him great enjoyment, and although slightly frightening to young children, helped us to appreciate that there were people less fortunate than ourselves.

    By Martin Nimmo (31/08/2010)
  • I remember Roy, he seemed to always be outside his bungalow in his wheelchair. He lived in the last bungalow on the right before the bridge going up. He lived with his aunties who had birthday parties for him which I remember attending as a child in the 50’s. Later the properties on both sides between London Road and the bridge in Tongdean Lane were bought by developers, demolished and the flats built.

    By Pat Smith (Questier ) (08/07/2011)
  • I was told that Panzer Mansions was a training school for PORGs (dwarves) who went on to work in showbusiness. It was not unusual to see very short men with taller girls waiting at the bus stop in London Road to get a bus into town. Another show biz link was grocer’s shop at the western end of Carden Avenue that was staffed by retired actors. They were a crowd of ‘luvvies’ who would greet you a ‘darling’ and launch into quotes from Shakespeare.

    By Tim Baker (11/02/2020)

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