Exploring the route of the old Dyke Railway: Part IX

The ride along to Sherbourne Road is easy after the last two difficult hills. The boys then quickly double back into Sherbourne Way and head towards the mysterious long narrow building.  They soon come to a narrow cinder and flint track and the mystery is quickly solved as it leads them to the HQ of 17th Hove Cub Scouts!

17th Hove Club Scouts
The 17th Hove Cub Scouts were founded in September 1955, and initially they used St. Helens hall as their club HQ.  They moved to the present site, built on top of the old Dyke Railway, in September 1973.  Currently they have over 40 members, who meet every week at the HQ.  One of their favourite activities is to walk the route of the old Dyke Railway!

The existing environment
The cinder and flint access track to the scouts HQ is bounded by the steep back gardens of Spencer Avenue, which fall away to the west, and the equally steep back gardens of Poplar Avenue, which rise above the track to the east.  This is no natural geographical phenomenon; the side of the hill was excavated by the navvies who constructed the Dyke Railway line to provide a level route across the Downs.

Checking the virtual map
Teirnan boots up the laptop and zooms in to examine the detail of the virtual view.  Pete points out the strange boundary alignment between the gardens of Sherbourne Road and Hangleton Way.  It’s clear that no developer would have planned to build this plot with such an unusual boundary arrangement.  Of course the reason is simple, it’s due to the route of the Dyke Railway!  The houses to the east side of the boundary were built around 1960, while the houses to the west were built around 1967, leaving evidence of the old line between the two.


Comments about this page

  • Not sure I agree with your explanation of the differing alignment of the gardens. Perhaps a visit to the Records Office in Lewes might be worth while.

    By Pipin Hove (10/01/2010)
  • Hi Pipin, thanks for your comments, I’m always interested in alternative opinion about the old Dyke Railway. While my info did not come from the Lewes Records office, (probably Hove Planning Dpt would have the Dyke Railway and house building plans) I’m very sure of the fact/accuracy about the alignment of the gardens. I’ve used four sources for my info about the strange alignment. However firstly seeing your comment, I double checked; more accuratly I now believe that the angular fence boundary shown on my “Maps Live” photo, was the LH border of the Dyke Railway, not the centre line of the Dyke Railway track. The four sources are as follows: a) The view of the area on Google Earth, you will see the alignment of the Dyke Railway as it passes through 17th Hove Cub Scouts, then its continuation on the Dyke Railway Trail. If you follow the curve of these two (which are definatley the Dyke Railway) you will see that the curve matches the strange boundary. b) I have the large scale OS map of the area c.1933, it shows the exact route of the Dyke Railway, of course before those houses were there! If you overlay the 1933 OS map with Google Earth, the route matches exactly with the strange boundary. c) If you are still not convinced please check out James Gray photos on the net, there are around five fasinating photos that state that the old line passed through this exact spot. You can find one photo here http://regencysociety-jamesgray.com/volume37/source/jg_37_098.html however please check them all, in particular the aerial one. d) Lastly, I lived in the area in the late 1950s and the 1960s. Although I’m far too young to remember the houses built on the corner of the top on Poplar Ave in the late 50s, I do remember that below those corner houses (built on top of the Dyke Railway) was farmland. This, and the James Gray website, confirm the land was purchased at two different times for house building, and that as I said much earlier in my story “Property can change ownership many times, but boundarys rarely change”. All the best to the lads for the final push to the Dyke.

    By Peter Groves (12/01/2010)
  • My understanding, for what it’s worth, is that the Brighton & Hove Golf Course originally came down to Hangleton Way/The Downsman. In the 1950s land to the north-east was purchased by Hove Council for house building, and the golf course was reduced to nine holes. It was much later in the mid to late 1960s, that land to the south-west was purchased for more building.

    By John Edwards (17/01/2010)
  • I remember as a child that the farm was on the other side of the road and in between two fields was where the line went, going at a 45 degree angle towards the Downsman entrance.

    By Myke Rosenthal-English (26/02/2013)
  • Until I married in 1974 I lived with my parents at 202 Poplar Avenue (the second property in from Hangleton Way on the lefthand side of the road in 6th photograph above). In that photograph the route of the old Dyke Railway line is clearly visible as the diagonal line that runs from Sherbourne Road across to Hangleton Way. The line then continued over Hangleton Way right through where the recycling bins now stand. This was just to the south of the Downsman Public House, and from there it followed the path of the old track, part way along which there was a Council landfill site in the 1960s. When we first moved into 202 Poplar Avenue, on the other side of the wall at the bottom of the garden was a cow field belonging to Hangleton Farm. None of the houses or shops in Hangleton Way existed at that time and the roadway from the end of Poplar Avenue down to St Helen’s Church was still a mud track. When the first houses on that stretch of road were built, I recall people camping out in Hangleton Way hoping to be amongst the first to have their deposits accepted.

    By Alan Phillips (28/02/2013)
  • I was born in 1957 at 128 Poplar Avenue and remember looking over the back garden fence. Here there was an area of land on which the flats (can’t remember their name) were built. More interesting though is seeing very deep foundation pits in this area. I used to attend Hangleton School and remember walking along the back garden fences on the school’s playing field with a friend – we had just done a project on the railway so I assume it spiked my interest. However walking un-noticed several yards behind us was our class teacher, Mrs Pyles, and as punishment we were not allowed out to play for a while.

    By Gill Crowter (nee Nabbs) (24/08/2019)

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