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Ditchling Road/The Level 1954

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This is a photographic print made by the Borough Surveyor's department in July 1954. It shows Ditchling Road, after road development work. New street lamps have been installed, and a new bus lane has opened on the left of the photograph. The Salvation Army Congress Hall can be seen in the background.
Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove
Photographed in 2012
Photo by Tony Mould

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  • The top photo is as I remember the area at that time. The bus shelter almost in the middle of the photo is where my dad caught the 44 or the 44a trolley bus to outside of St. Marks School in Arundel Road every evening after the days work at his stall in the Open Market. The turning to the right of the bus shelter where the lorry is parked is Rosehill Terrace where my great uncle Charlie lived for years. Not too much has changed from then.

    By Mick Peirson (07/12/2012)
  • The old photograph brought back memories! I grew up in Hollingbury, and my mum would bring us down to the Open Market on the number 26 trolley bus (seen driving up Ditchling Road). Does anyone else remember waiting at the bus shelter outside the Open Market? The shelter was divided lengthways down the middle – passengers for the 26 on one side, and 26a on the other. I also remember the policeman seeing pedestrians across Ditchling Road at this point (there was another policeman outside what is now Boots in London Road).

    By Janet Beal (07/12/2012)
  • For those of us who are old enough and can remember where the number 42 bus used stop on its way to Elm Grove; the house behind the bus stop had a sign in the window saying Dental Repairs Promptly Executed, looking at the 1954 picture brought back memories for me and a fear of what horrors happened in that house. Now I am older and wiser they probably just sorted out your dentures for you.

    By Terry Anderson (08/12/2012)
  • I loved seeing the old photo of Ditchling Road. When I was born in 1948 we lived in the little flat that you can see just above the bus shelter and between the two taller buildings. I remember watching the trolleybuses going around the island in the middle of the road and losing contact with the overhead power lines and having to get a long pole from beneath the bus to reconnect again. We eventually moved to Lower Bevendean.

    By Ken Chick (08/12/2012)
  • Yes, Janet, I was a 26 rider to Hollingbury and that was the left lane in the shelter. Cold, drafty, but friendly people to chat to. The worst part was folks who wouldn’t queue and hopped on the bus ahead of you. Impossible to push forward having a row of folks ahead of you in a tight shelter, or half a shelter. Horrible if the conductor shouted, ‘Sorry, all full’, when you had waited a full 20 minutes and were facing another 20 till the next bus. Most times I was too polite to others and lost out myself on many occasion. I learnt a lot of patience in those days. I also learnt how to assert myself and get where I needed to get in life whilst taking care of others too. There were odd occasions when I’d take the 26a to the half way point at Five Ways. I still had to wait for the 26 to complete the journey but it did give some sense of movement and the satisfaction of at least a short warm up.

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (nee Baldwin) (08/12/2012)
  • I remember attending a nursery just where the bus is on the left in the picture. It was a corner house which I believe was the corner to Rose Hill Terrace. We lived in Shaftesbury Road till I was three years old so it was probably a handy drop off if mum had a little part time job somewhere. I clearly remember the room and the garden and maybe also remember I didn’t like it much! Maybe I didn’t last long there. Who knows?

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (nee Baldwin) (08/12/2012)
  • I remember it well too Mick, although I only moved to Brighton in 1959. The major architectural change in the two photographs is the Salvation Army Building, seen to the right of what I believe is Rose Hill (with Rose Hill Terrace being further west and running off London Road). I lived in a flat on the Sylvan Hall estate (just north of these photos) for some nine years before moving to Hove (actually). Now you mention it Janet, I remember the division in the bus shelter. A friend of mine once let off a stink bomb in there, and waited for the inevitable reaction. Great photo Jennifer. It brings back some fond memories.

    By Alan Hobden (09/12/2012)
  • Thank’s Alan, my apologies. It was Rose Hill and not Rose Hill Terrace. If I remember rightly there was a cafe at the bottom on the left hand side.

    By Mick Peirson (09/12/2012)
  • Yes, Mick. I think I can just make out the name “The Level Cafe” on the side of the white corner building. Fairly central in the old photo was a sweet shop – very handy if you were waiting for a bus! (I think Cannadines had a shop in that row later on.) Over on the left, the trolleybus would have been passing Walfords the newsagents as it went up the hill towards the traffic lights. Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (10/12/2012)
  • Oh, the memories! Many was the time my Mum and I queued for the 26 or 26A trolley (didn’t matter which, since we were only going up the hill to St Saviour’s Church) in that infamous split bus shelter. And just level with the bus in the ’54 pic was Walford’s Newsagent for which I did morning and evening paper rounds from around 1962 to 1966. The morning round covered all the streets between Ditchling Road, London Road, Baker Street and Viaduct Road, and the evening one went up Rose Hill and along Upper Lewes Road and then covered the whole of the Sylvan Hall Estate. Of course Congress Hall has now disappeared, and so have the original Sylvan Hall mansion and St Saviour’s Church – and Walford’s Newsagent. Sic transit gloria mundi.

    By Len Liechti (11/12/2012)
  • I remember this junction well from my childhood, it didn’t change much through the 60s and 70s apart from the sad demise of the trolley buses and the big roundabout stayed for a good few years. I have one very good memory of this roundabout from 1967 when my Mum had insisted that my Dad take me to see Brighton and Hove Albion play, he had never taken me and I wasn’t relishing the idea as I was aware what it entailed. I was 10 at the time and I knew my Dad would take me via a pub and a betting shop (I had spent a lot of time in the 60s standing in a doorway of a pub). My Dad was a bit of a character and spoke to anyone who would listen and this could take hours! Anyway, back to the roundabout, we (well my Dad) ended up in the Druids at the top of Baker Street, I saw the time was approaching 2.30 and the kick off was 3pm and all of a sudden my Dad came bursting out of the pub having seen a 38 bus (the green ones with the open back) coming along Union Road and jumped on it while it was moving as it turned up Ditchling Road, he shouted for me to get on and embarassingly I couldn’t jump high enough (I was only a small boy!) In the end the conductor took pity on me and managed to pick me up as I dangled out the back of the bus! We got off at the Seven Dials and had to walk all the way along Old Shoreham Road. We didn’t make it for the start of the match and Albion lost 1-0 against Oldham Athletic.

    By Paul Clarkson (15/12/2012)
  • Hi Janet. My name is Stephen Raynsford like you I grew up in Hollingbury at 13 Fernhurst Crescent with my mum & dad Harry and Grace and my sisters Val and Barb and brother Barry. I do remember the old bus shelter at the Open Market waiting for the no 26 to Hollingbury – such happy memories.

    By Stephen Raynsford (23/12/2012)
  • Hi everybody. The open market I remember, and we would walk right through to the other end (London Road) where the blacksmith would be shooing the old work horses, until our Mum would collect us after finishing the shopping. If we were lucky she would buy us two meringues from Underwoods the bakers on the top of Baker street, 2 for a penny, before waiting for the 26 bus.

    By jennyshaw (nee curd) (01/05/2013)
  • Hi Jenny Shaw. Yes, I remember the Old Market blacksmiths and the Level with its swings. Also  an Italian couple who had a tiny ice-cream shop on one of the roads that cut through to the London Road – Ann Street? – they also sold the most wonderful toffee apples.

    By Barbara Lutterloch (26/06/2013)
  • Yes, I remember that bus shelter very well. The dental repairs sign always made me giggle too. Between 1956 & 1962 I was a pupil at Varndean Grammar School and had to travel every day from Whitehawk Crescent, using the 44 trolley bus over the race hill and down Elm Grove to The Level. I then had to wait for the 26 to get to the school which was (is?) at the top of Ditchling Road. We were supposed to use the special ‘school buses’ but they were always full by the time they reached The Level so there was a big, unladylike scrummage to get on any 26 that came along! In 1960, when I was taking my GCE’s, there was a strike by whichever company ran the 44 service so, for about a week, I used to walk to Black Rock and catch Volks railway to The Steine and get the 26 from there. It was June; beautiful summer mornings with the sun glinting on the sea and I can still remember thinking how lucky I was to have been born in such a lovely town. Although I was dreading the exams!

    By Linda Kirby (10/09/2013)
  • Hello Linda Kirby. You didn’t used to be Linda Johnson by any chance, did you? Your 44/26 journey to Varndean is very familiar and I don’t remember there being another Linda living in Whitehawk Crescent in our year at Varndean. I travelled from Woodingdean and joined you at Elm Grove. We were in Mrs. Price’s form – 1Y – 1956-57.

    By Jean Jardine Miller (13/10/2013)
  • Sure brings back some memories. Used to come past this area many times in the early fifties, on my way to the Salvos or to the Building School. Caught the bus (42 or 44?) countless times to visit my grandparents at Whitehawk. Oh,such happy days, so long ago, and so far away. Been in Australia since 1956 and unlikely to come home ever. Played on the swings etc on the Level often. An idyllic childhood, never to be forgotten.

    By David Taylor (05/10/2014)
  • I remember Rosehill Terrace – it used to have the prefabs in it where I cut my leg as a child. We were No. 49 – we had the Jefferies next door, the Johnstons the other side and next to the Jefferies were the Cat family. All big families – lots of fun. We used to have the old parking meters. Many a memory living in this street – our house was haunted!

    By Tracy (23/01/2017)
  • Anyone recall the betting shop on Lewes Rd near St Peter’s church called Griffins. I had to take the bets there for some fellow workers once a week as they had the best rates of return. Ended up meeting the daughter of the owner and dated her but alas I have forgotten her name now. Her friend was a singer in a local band and was pretty good, Those were the days 15 and glass of milk -  ancient great memories.

    By John Legg (16/01/2018)
  • John, I wonder if the betting shop you speak of was exactly at the bus stop opposite St Peter’s church where we could pick up a bus to the Old Steine? Seems to ring a bell with me.

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (18/01/2018)
  • Yes, that’s about right Sandra. Memories get distorted after a time and some things are not as expected. The bus service in those days was amazing for its time.  

    By John Legg (18/01/2018)

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