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Memories of the 1950s

Wakefield Road
Photo by Tony Mould

Hilly nature of the area

This is Wakefield Road, the picture depicts graphically the hilly nature of the area. I lived for my first 19 years in Prince’s Crescent just round the corner from the end-on junction of Wakefield and Richmond Roads. In those days (1950s) of many fewer cars, parked and moving, we used to play football in the road outside our house, and at regular intervals the ball would get away from us and roll round the corner and down the steep incline of Wakefield Road: it took a fair sprint to recover it.

Mr Heavens in his white coat

Later, when I went to school at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar (1960s), I cycled there and back, requiring the ascents of Old Shoreham Road on the outward journey and Wakefield Road on the return, and all with just a three-speed Sturmey-Archer gear. There used to be a tiny old-fashioned grocer’s shop about a quarter of the way down, run by an elderly man in a white coat called Mr Heavens, his trade was killed off when a self-service mini-market opened next to the Roundhill Tavern around 1960.

Sunday morning Salvation Army

Once a month on a Sunday morning the Salvation Army marching band would come down Crescent Road, along Prince’s Crescent and turn smartly down Wakefield Road on its way to Congress Hall in Rose Hill. I never found out where they started from. Wakefield Road only had houses on one side; the other was a high retaining wall beyond which lay the Sylvan Hall Estate, on which I did a paper round for five years, morning and evening.

The Cat’s Creep

The Cat’s Creep was the unofficial name for the long, steep stairway connecting the top of Wakefield Road with Roundhill Crescent; its correct name, which was on no signs and was never used by locals, was Lennox Place. I now live in Bath, and that’s all hills too; and like Brighton you can see either side of it from the other. Do you have any memories of Wakefield Road? If you have memories to share, please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • I lived not far from there, in Shaftesbury Road. We used to spend a lot of our time playing in the wooded area above the wall that leads into Wakefield Road. I think it was the grounds of a deserted house – for some reason all the kids called it “The Ghost Walk”. If we got really spooked in there, we could shimmy down the wall and run home up Wakefield Road. I remember how steep it was.

    By Marc Turner (03/03/2013)
  • Yes I knew Wakefield Road very well. I lived in one of the very old cottages on the edge of Sylvan Hall on the left hand side going up the hill, until the estate was re-developed with blocks of flats as they are now. As kids we would play within the grounds of the old Sylvan Hall Estate. I remember the large monkey cage in the ornamental gardens of the estate. It was a real adventure playground for all us kids who lived in the Wakefield area. There were old orchards still bearing fruit which we could pick. I’m not sure what the big monkey cage was – that’s what it was called – it may have been a very large Victorian aviary of some kind… maybe some of you reading this may know different? It was a very sad day when the bulldozers arrived and the beautiful trees were cut down and the land levelled. This was a great loss to our area.

    By Joe (03/03/2013)
  • I lived in Upper Lewes Road in the early 70s and I know the Sylvan Hall estate well. I remember playing football on a patch of green in front of one of the old houses. For those of you who don’t know, or who have so far mentioned the cottages and the high retaining wall in Wakefield Road, there is a fabulous picture from 1963 of the actual area on the James Gray Collection. The picture is on this link You can find more fabulous pictures of Brighton on

    By Paul Clarkson (04/03/2013)
  • In the 1970s this was one of my favourite hills for go-karting down — just make sure you didn’t overshoot into Upper Lewes Road at the bottom!
    Of course, there were hardly any parked cars then, so the pavement was a clear run.

    Interestingly, I thought the stairs were called “Cat’s Creek” — because I’d only heard it spoken. I can still remember that there are 113 of them (depending on how you count the half-step at the bottom) and that, from the bottom, the top ones look like a brick wall!

    By Andy (05/04/2019)

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