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.