Memories of Whitehawk in the 1950s

It’s good to be alive in 1955!
“It’s good to be alive in 1955!” That was said by Eccles in the Goon Show. How true it was! In the 50s I lived in Whitehawk Road. Irrespective of what people say, Whitehawk was a great place to live in those days. People’s doors were never locked and if you wanted to get to another road the quick way, you could go through their gardens.

Down at the Broadway, you had two coffee bars. The Appletime (opposite the bus depot), which was quite small but opened late because of the buses, and Stan’s at the other end. Stan’s used to get so busy that you could go in there after the pub or pictures, order a sausage sandwich, eat it, and shout “Where’s my sausage sandwich?” and he’d bring another one, forgetting you’d had one already.

Great Friends
I had some great friends in Whitehawk. A lot of them had motorbikes and periodically we’d go to Barcombe Mills. We would go there, hire boats and have a great time having stand up fights and always ending up in the river. The boys and girls were all mates and not boy and girl friends, so everybody mucked in and had great fun. Some of the lads used to ride their motorbikes over tree trunks placed across the river, and we would have to pull them out and wait for the bikes to dry out before we could go home.

Up at Sheepcote Valley, there was, and still is, a camping site. Some of my mates and I would wander up there on cabaret nights and chat the girls up. We never used to get anywhere because we acted too flash. Still, never mind! Sometime, perhaps…!

Just along the road in Kemptown was the Langham Café. I suppose you would call it a latter day bikers’ café because most of the youngsters that used the place were motorcyclists. They also used the Little Chef at the bottom of North Road. They were hardly any foreign bikes, and most of the bikes that were parked outside were Nortons, B.S.A, Triumphs, Ariels and Matchless, all gleaming with their chrome exhausts and tanks. Most of the lads who owned the bikes did their own maintenance, so obviously they were their pride and joy. Opposite the Rock Inn there was a motorcycle and sidecar delivery service, and the delivery boys used to come roaring out like bats out of hell, because they were such good riders. I used to envy them.

Comments about this page

  • I remember the Langham Cafe well, munching on a Wagonwheel while watching Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Moscow Dynamo, Honved, and other sides from Eastern Europe. Sometimes I had to make my way from Manor Farm through a thick yellow smog to get there. Where have those 50-odd years gone?

    By Mike Greenow (03/04/2010)
  • I used to work at Redhill Motors at the bottom of North Road back in the late sixties, possibly where some of those real motorbikes were bought from. Migrated to Oz in 1971. Like these sites, remembering safer times than now, lived in Whitehawk Rd and enjoyed an amazing childhood. East Brighton Park and the Downs to the east, the beach only a couple of hundred yards away. I also remember the Appletime, run by a lady called Del Reeves, I used to walk her dog Sammy to earn a bit of pocket money (5 parkdrive and penny book match). Happy days. Dave in Oz.

    By Dave Hill (24/10/2011)
  • Hi All. I’ve just found this page after being told to look for a page about Manor youth club. I can remember all the previous stories, Barcombe Mills, Stans, Redhill Motors, Little Chef etc. My brother and I both worked for Redhill Motors mid 60s and frequented every place mentioned. I had an Inter Norton that was well known in Brighton and my brother had it after me. Anyway I could go on forever writing about these memories but can’t quite picture “Bluey Aires” but must have seen you at Stans. Wonderful times. I remember one night somebody eating a vase of bluebells after coming in from the pub.

    By Bob Pickett (05/12/2012)
  • Hi  Bob. You don’t remember me, but I was a good mate of your brother’s, but I thought he worked for Pollys round the corner by the Eagle. I’ve been in that lock-up garage many  times.

    By Harry Atkins (04/03/2014)
  • Hi Harry, just come to look on this site again. You are right – my brother did work at Bill Polly’s for some time but also Redhill Motors at the end of the 50s.We both then went up to Station Street and ran Motorcycle Exchange for a number of years. I still can’t picture you but remember all the Whitehawk gang at “Stans”, real characters wonderful times.

    By RR Pickett (14/05/2015)
  • Does anyone remember Susan Barrow ?
    She lived on Whitehawk Road or Crescent.
    I was camping and met her.
    I lived in London and we stayed in touch for quite some time.

    By Bill Barnes (27/07/2021)

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