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Coldean in the 1930s

Cottages in Coldean Lane, photographed prior to demolition c1950
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

House building in progress

In the 1930s, Coldean was in fledgling form with its house building in progress. My father Jack Spicer, being a rope scaffolder, was employed locally from our address across the way. I remember playing in the seemingly huge basement area dug out for the Hiker’s Rest cellars. At that time the cottages abutting Coldean Lane and the main Falmer road remained, as did Woollard’s Nursery with its abundance of good eating apples. Further up the road, westwards towards the hilltop, lay West’s Farm with its cattle effluent running across the road and into the nearby field. The smell of pigs also filled the air as they roamed almost freely about the buildings.

Sweet chestnuts and pheasant eggs

Old farmer West was a clumpish, red faced individual who was assisted by his grown up son. The Earl of Chichester’s estate, Stanmer Park, was well protected with game keepers, but they did not prevent the odd excursion over the wall opposite the Falmer Pumping Station to collect sweet chestnuts, which in turn led to the discovery of pheasant nests with plenty of eggs. And yes I have to admit we helped ourselves to the eggs. In the harsher winter times we also went over the wall and picked up all the dropped dead wood we could find for the home fires.

Harsh but good times

Inside the estate at that time one could traverse the road to the village but had to keep to the grass. No exploring further afield was allowed and there nearly always appeared to be a game keeper present to ensure compliance. The village farm also had that cattle effluent running freely from the roadside cattle enclosure. At the far end of the village was yet another sweet chestnut tree. Whether or not it’s still there I don’t know. What I do know is that it was a very harsh yet good time in our lives.

Do you remember?

If you have any Coldean memories you would like to share with us, please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • I remember this cottage. It was a group of three I think in what is now Woburn Place(flats) and Chepstow Court (OAP housing). These cottages were demolished in the early sixties. Woodside cottage on the north side of Coldean Lane survived for a few years before that too was pulled down. The construction of the dual carriageway on the A27, Lewes road, had a sizable effect on this area. The road improvement was necessary and it received a civic trust award. This was originally placed on a large stone. But was subsequently built into the wall by the bus stop.

    By Richard J. Szypulski (08/11/2013)
  • It was eighty years ago that the Pavey family moved from 43 Ringmer Road, Moulsecoomb, to 11 Park Road, Coldean. The house backed on to the middle of a terrace of three cottages that faced the road. I was just eight years old and I believe that we were the second family to move in to the developing estate; the Unsteads, being the first, lived in the second house in Coldean Lane. Tony Unstead was the same age as me and we soon became firm friends. This was before ‘The Hiker’s Rest’ was built and Coldean Lane was a deeply rutted cart track. The estate population grew rapidly and soon a small group of boys and girls gathered to play on the building site and in the Wild Park. All of them live in my memory.
    Two cottages then stood at the bottom of the Lane; on the north side lived Albert West, after his father Farmer West moved to a detached house in Park Road. West Drive (now renamed Rushlake Road) was named after him. The Hazeldeans lived in the cottage on the south side. Mr Hazeldean had only one arm, the other being fitted with a hook. With his wife, a tiny white-haired lady, he cultivated the large vegetable garden with the aid of a horse and a bladed plough. The Hazeldeans had a nursery on the Lewes Road, perhaps near where the University now stands and opposite Falmer station.
    On the south end of Coldean Lane there was a sarsen stone on which my aged grandfather used to sit and rest. In the early days of the war, a unit of the Canadian army occupied Stanmer Park, with tanks and transport hidden under the trees; and when the sarsen stone disappeared it was thought that it had been run over by a tank and pushed into the ground. I wonder if it is still buried there?

    By Peter E. Pavey (08/10/2014)
  • Great memories, Peter, thanks for sharing. There was a Sarsen stone near the Wild Park that our ‘local’ council thought would look good at the end of St Peter’s church to stop people playing football against the church. Local historians naturally raised a fuss and it was returned to its rightful place, where it marked a boundary.

    By Ken Valder (08/10/2014)
  • Hello Peter. I’m researching my family tree and have a great aunt Ada Pavey, nee Puhlmann. She was sister to my Grandmother and my mother remembers visiting her Aunty Ada and Uncle Ted at a house called Suvla in Coldean. Would you be able to help me with some information about this aspect of the story?

    By Sue Robertson Danells (26/04/2017)

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