Notes and Queries: previous residents

Wykeham Terrace, Brighton
Wykeham Terrace, Brighton
Graveyard of St Nicholas Church, Brighton, near Wykeham Terrace.
Graveyard of St Nicholas Church, Brighton, near Wykeham Terrace.

“I am presently a tenant in Wykeham Terrace and have heard many stories about who used to live there including the likes of Leo Sayer. With much interest I’ve been reading the details on this web site about the history of the building and would love to know more: such as when it was built, and others that have lived there. More details would be much appreciated. Best wishes.” (e-mail from Helen Kent, 06/01/2001)

Response 1: Leo Sayer and Wykeham Terrace

“The Melody Maker newspaper had a ‘Battle Of The Bands’ contest that Patches entered. They had a good act and narrowly missed winning the local heat. The contest was a turning point for Leo, still known as Gerry at the time, for he had now decided what he wanted to do with his life. It was now 1970 and he was 22 years old.

Around this time a Brighton newspaper, The Evening Argus, ran an advert for another talent contest. This audition, which took place at Brighton’s Pavilion Theatre, was held by David Courtney, who with his father’s encouragement was about to set up a talent agency. This time Patches, comprising of Gerry Sayer (vocals and harmonica), Max Chetwynd (guitars), Mick Morris (drums) and Ian Whitmore (bass), entered and won the audition.

It turned out that David Courtney was more than just a promoter. He’d played drums with early 60’s pop star Adam Faith, played piano and was also a budding songwriter. So began what would turn out to be a remarkable creative partnership. At David’s Wykeham Terrace flat, the two started writing songs at a prolific and rapid pace.”

Response 2: Leo Sayer and Wykeham Terrace

From Cath, My Brighton and Hove volunteer

Here’s a reference from the transcript of an interview with Mike Reid. This should leave no-one in any doubt!

‘Dave’s about to release a C.D. of our earliest demos, from ’97’, would you believe. It’s called “Wykeham Terrace”, which was the street just off the Clock Tower in Brighton where Dave had his flat and we wrote “The Show Must Go On” etc; onto his Grundig tape machine. I haven’t heard the recordings since my tapes fell apart in the late ’70’s! ‘

Wow! A song called Wykeham Terrace! 🙂 Wonder what the lyrics are… (yeah.. tried to find ’em. Couldn’t!)

Response 3: Squatting in Wykeham Terrace

From Cath, My Brighton and Hove volunteer

Although this is a personal account I found, I thought that, if verified, it might be interesting as part of the larger picture that emerges from other sources.

“In Brighton too, squatters went to extreme lengths to defend their homes. Squatting in Brighton was launched by the Brighton Rents Project, a broad based campaign for better housing which had already received widespread support, including that of the Labour MP for Kemp Town, Dennis Hobden. Squatting was seen as a last resort in the face of an intransigent Conservative Council. Several empty houses were occupied and families installed. The Council promptly announced that the squatters would be struck off the housing waiting list, and immediately began court proceedings for eviction. And, as if to emphasise its lack of concern for the homeless, it proceeded to sell No 70 Church Street, a house in the town centre which it had kept empty for 20 years. “Despite numerous arrests of supporters on minor charges, the campaign continued to grow. Towards the end of July 1969, houses in Queens Square and Wykeham Terrace were squatted. The army, which owned the properties, had been intending to sell them with vacant possession, but the presence of squatters meant that this had to be postponed. The squatters dug in to fight and called for support In the months up to the eviction (on 28 November) the local press pilloried the Rents Project and its helpers, warning of ‘private armies’ and ‘terrible weapons’ waiting at Wykeham Terrace. The dire warnings seemed to be validated when three people from the squat were arrested for firebombing a local army recruitment office. The petrol bombs had been made at the squat and several squatters were later sent to prison. “These events were widely publicised with disastrous consequences. In Brighton for instance, squatting abruptly came to an end and the Brighton Rents Project disintegrated, torn apart by external hostility and internal divisions.”

Comments about this page

  • I was at Wykeham Terrace during the squatting in 1969 and I have to say that that unfortunate incident was the result of a provocation. This didn’t stop the provocateur being put on trial and sentenced, even though he pleaded in court that he was working for Special Branch. Evidence for this being true comes from the remarkable knowledge of who attended what meetings at the squat.

    By Nick (01/02/2007)
  • I came across this page whilst looking for something else entirely. Back in 1948 Wykeham Terrace used to be Army married quarters.  When my father returned from service in Italy, where we had been just after the war, he was posted to the Royal Artillery Drill Hall unit just around the corner near the clock tower and Wykeham Terrace was where we lived. I was 9 years old at the time. I remember the church yard opposite because that is where I and friends used to race snails across the gravestones. Until I saw this web page I had even forgotten the name Wykeham Terrace. It brought back many happy childhood memories.

    By George Hudson (30/04/2007)
  • Our family lived in one of the properties 1939-1940. My Father was in the Regular Army at Preston Barracks – a Light Anti-Aircraft regiment. He was sent abroad with the British Army in 1939 and was subsequently evacuated from Dunkerque.His Regiment was re-equiped with Bofors Guns and was at Cross-in-Hand (near Eastbourne) during the Battle of Britain. During that time Brighton was bombed a number of times and once a land mine fell in front of the gates of Wykeham Terrace. Luckily it was defused. We visited there and saw the Bomb Disposal Engineers sitting on the bomb drinking tea. My parents decided to pack-up our house and place it in storage. Later, whilst my Father’s Regiment was at Portsdown Hill (defending Portsmouth) we watched our belongings burnt up as the warehouse we had stored our stuff was in Pompey. Needless to say we should have left it at Wykeham Terrace as it never got bombed.

    By Michael Westlake (14/07/2010)
  • My late father & two of my aunties lived at 7a during the early 50s, I believe that they all worked in a hotel called “Legetts” not far away from Wykeham Terrace. I can not find any reference to a hotel of that name during the 50s. Could Legetts have been the name of the owners & not of the hotel? I would appreciate any views anyone may have on the subject.

    By Jo (13/07/2020)
  • Kelly’s directory 1951 shows 7a as occupied by Ronald C Saunders. Lots of Leggetts in all Brighton street directories! No hotel of that name. In 1951 the nearest Leggett to Wykeham Terrace is WG Leggett at 18 Powis Sq only 5-10 mins walk away.

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (14/07/2020)
  • Thank you so much for responding to my question about the Leggett name, that has been a great help. Many thanks to you.

    By Jo (14/07/2020)

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