History And Development

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.

b) HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT: From the late eighteenth century the main attractions of the area were the races run on Whitehawk Down (renamed Race Hill), and the associated White Hawk Fair which was held from 1791 for some years. It was after visiting the fair one day that Editha Elmore, daughter of the squire of Woodingdean, disappeared. She was later said to haunt the area as the ‘White Hawk Lady’ leaving a cloven footprint behind, but her spirit was not seen again after 1807 when a woman’s bones were found {6}. Whitehawk Hill was also the site of a telegraphic station from at least the early nineteenth century, and is now the site of the town’s main television and radio transmitter (see “Broadcasting“) {108}.
Whitehawk Bottom formed the eastern limit of the parish of Brighton, the boundary running along the former course of Whitehawk Road (including Haybourne Road), but when the East Brighton estate was purchased in September 1913 the area now occupied by the Whitehawk housing estate became corporation property and it became part of the county borough itself on 1 April 1928 when Ovingdean parish was annexed. The south-western most part of Whitehawk Road was developed in the early 1880s, but Whitehawk Bottom contained only a few farm buildings, piggeries, allotments and playing fields until the late 1920s when the corporation erected houses along the western side of Whitehawk Road and in Hervey Road and Whitehawk Crescent. The large council estate was then developed in 1933-7 with nearly 1,200 houses, all with large gardens for growing vegetables but none with garages. Private housing was added near Wilson Avenue post-war, and the corporation’s Swanborough flats opened in 1967. In 1981 the population of Whitehawk (together with Manor Farm) was nearly 8,000. {2,83,109,277,305}
In 1975 the rebuilding of Whitehawk and its drab housing began. By radically altering road alignments, many small cul-de-sacs have been created in the Whitehawk Crescent and Whitehawk Avenue areas, increasing the number of houses but making the estate more attractive; the scheme involved 1,440 new houses. By 1988 redevelopment south of Lintott Avenue was complete and work was proceeding on large areas to the north, but financial restrictions had slowed down the project somewhat. A major new road, Whitehawk Way, has been constructed along the line of Whitehawk Avenue and Fletching Road, and a new park has been laid out over Lintott Avenue. {123}

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

  • Yes and they ruined Whitehawk. They pulled the heart out of it. I lived there from 1946 till 1969 in Twineham Road - what a fabulous community and place to live. I just read comments about growing up in Whitehawk in the ’50s on this site.

    By Susan Beckett (nee Bennett) (29/08/2010)
  • This photo shows what I think is Whitehawk Rd bearing left following on from Whitehawk Rd in the fore with the beginning of Whitehawk Avenue heading up the hill to the right. In the middle seems to be St Davids Hall, and the building going on far right probably being the start of Findon Rd. The rough ground to the fore right of the photo where there are now flats, and further down Westham flats etc towards the bottom of Findon Rd. But at the time of this photo there used to be rough ground fenced off where lorries and coaches used to park.

    By Paul Goodwin (02/01/2012)
  • I remember Whitehawk as it was, I lived in Wiston Road. I agree with Susan Bennet, the heart was stripped out of it. It was a wonderful place to grow up and be a part of a community that knew each other. I was taken to see my old homeland and I wouldn’t have recognised it. What has been created is no improvement.

    By Mary Ingham-Law (01/03/2012)
  • I lived at 12 Manor Hill. Helan, Carol, Susan, Julie, Paul, Garry, Andy Harman

    By Susan Owen (03/10/2012)
  • Yes, this is the junction of Whitehawk Road and Whitehawk Avenue at the start of the redevelopment of the new estate. That is certainly St. David’s Hall in the centre of the picture. Notice the old race stands in the distance. I wish things had stayed as they were, progress is not always for the better.

    By Vernon Brand (18/10/2012)
  • I agree with Susan. You would not remember me, its been many years, I lived on Twineham Rd in the ’50s. I remember you and Maria, in fact I was very good friends with Maria for years. I got married and moved to the USA back in the late ’60s, but Whitehawk will always be in my heart.

    By Shirley Terry (nee Hawes) (09/02/2013)
  • I live in Lintot Ave. You cannot beat the day when a bit of cardboard would be so much fun just to go up the hill and come down as fast as you can. I remember one day a large tyre came rolling down in the garden- good old days .

    By Susan Gillingham (06/05/2013)
  • Whitehawk still has its heart. People move away and expect a place to stay the same, unfortunately they don’t. I still get upset seeing strangers walk in and out of my childhood home on Lewes Road. I have lived in Whitehawk for over 10 years now and bought my daughter up here. It is still a wonderful place to grow up and definitely the closest community in Brighton and Hove. It’s just not the community you remember, people move on…. just like you guys did.

    By Lyndsey (02/07/2013)
  • Whitehawk of today is nothing like the Whitehawk I grow up in. 1950 to 1969 First Nuthurst Road then Twineham Road. OK I know the old estate was out of date and many of the old brick built houses were cold in winter and starting to get damp problems. Unlike the new house which seem to have many problems that were not present in the old houses. At least we had a community of caring people then, as kids we were in and out of everyone’s home.

    By R H Scott-Spencer (08/02/2015)
  • I lived in Hervey Road with my mum, brother Dave and my sister Deborah from the early 1960s until we had to move so they could knock our house down, Whitehawk was all I knew so a very sad day when we had to move. I totally agree with Susan Gillingham, me and my brother were always sliding down the racehill on cardboard, it gave us hours of fun at no cost, then we would go to our camp made in a group of trees, Happy Days.

    By Michael Lacey (22/05/2021)

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