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A kid in Brighton in the Blitz

I was 12 when WWII began, and the air raid sirens started wailing right away. It was a false alarm but very scary. We lived at Brunswick Terrace and I remember the big black pipeline that ran all along the Front – does anyone know what that was for? One day my friend was walking home to King’s Mansions when she was chased by a German airplane. Until quite recently I could see the scars in the buildings from the machine-gun fire.

Living in Canada
I live in Canada now, but have to go back for my ‘fix’ of home every couple of years. I’m sad to see the West Pier’s demise because I used to buy a pennyworth of Wine Gums at Maynards, the sweetshop at the entrance to the pier. Even at age 82 I still like Maynards Wine Gums, though they cost a lot more than a penny over here now!

Does anyone remember the boating pool, and the man who shouted through a megaphone, “Come in, number four!”?

WWII seafront defences
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

Comments about this page

  • Hello June, whilst I was not born until during the War, my brother, who was born in 1932, was also chased and fired on by a German Fighter in The Upper Drive at Hove. He tried to get into three houses but got no answer as it came round several times. My Sister was a war bride to Halifax, NS, were you?

    By Jeremiah (16/04/2009)
  • I think the big black pipeline referred to was part of the sea defence. It carried oil to large tanks which were underneath the promenade. If and when an invasion occured, oil was then pumped out to sea in pipelines and set on fire. Oh I well remember Maynards wine gums. Like all good things in the past, now just a memory.

    Kind regards to you.

    By John Wall (17/04/2009)
  • Jeremiah, I wasn’t a war bride – too young. I remember the Australians breaking into the lockers which stored the deck chairs on the prom. They set fire to them and chucked them over the railings on to the beach – that was either VE or VJ night. And John Wall, those wine gums! We can get them here in Canada, but made locally and not the same flavour.

    By June Hart (07/07/2009)
  • I was a post-war baby born in 1950. Am writing my autobiography so would really appreciate some help from anyone who can tell me about entertainment at the main Brighton Pier in 1950. Also, Punch & Judy shows on the seafront leading up to 1950. Were you or your homes affected by the Brighton bombings and what was work and trade like in that year? Wonderful. Thanks. Margaret

    By Margaret Vaughan (07/08/2009)
  • I remember the Punch and Judy shows, and walks along the promenade, rides on the Volk’s railway and playing in the kiddies playground…….and much more.

    By Bonny Cother (16/11/2009)
  • So do I Bonnie. Good old days ’50s and the ’60s. If only life was still like that, not as it is now, a rat race.

    By Kaz (30/12/2009)
  • Yes, my father Robert E Edwards also told me a couple of stories about German fighters straffing along the Hove prom. I suppose they ‘beat up’ the town after a visit to Shoreham airfield which had all sorts of bombers and fighters stationed on it. My dad told me that he and my uncle (Frank Deacon) where attending a breakdown one day on Hove seafront and my dad saw an aircraft flying pretty low towards them with lights flickering on the wings, which at first he thought was signalling to them – until bullets began to bounce off the tarmac!! Paul Edwards

    By Paul Edwards (24/03/2010)
  • Most of the low level air attacks were carried out by German fighter bombers (ME 109s and FW 190s) known as hit and run raiders. They would come in at sea level, a quick visit, then back the way they came. Shoreham and Ford airfields were used by the RAF mainly as an emergency landing strip.

    By Ken Burt (01/06/2010)
  • Mustn’t forget the old Walrus flying boat that used to fly up and down the coast.

    By John Wall (19/09/2010)
  • Ref my comment 07/04/2009. It was called “PLUTO”, the pipeline under the ocean.

    By John Wall (19/09/2010)
  • I also remember the boating pool for good reason, I fell in it in my Sunday best clothes and my mother was not very pleased with me! Also the Punch and Judy shows that were down on the seafront near the Palace Pier I remember. I think Jack Howe, the School Board man, used to do these shows.

    By Kathleen Catt (12/02/2011)
  • Yes, I remember the paddling pool too which had this glorious blue colour and was deeper in the middle than the edges. I have a photo somewhere of my brother and I in a boat at the boating pool which was still there some time after the war . The Punch and Judy man was on Dalton’s beach I think, next but one to the Palace Pier, and the shows further East were run by the Shepherd family. We used to go there after a day on the beach for the evening show and sometimes there were firework displays, but we had to wait till it got dark so it was very late when it finished.

    By Dorothy Hobbs (Stevens) (23/10/2011)
  • Hi, I was born in 1938 in a Brighton nursing home but we lived in Mayfield Crescent in Patcham.
    As he was a plumber, my Dad was in a “reserved occupation” But joined the ARP. In his haste to go on duty one night, he almost fell down the stairs!
    Mum used to cuddle me in her arms as we looked out of the bedroom window as we watched (and heard) the doodlebugs roaring over the South Downs towards London. I ca also recall what I think must have been a B17 bomber doing an emergency landing on the Downs and just missing the HT cables and pylons. It was subsequently repaired and managed to take off. We had a “parachute mine” land unexploded at the junction of our road and Wilmington Way which was “dealt with” by the bomb squad. I also recall the ancient “Bristol” buses struggling to climb Braybon Avenue and the poor old driver having to change down into 1st gear by “double – declutching” his “Crash gearbox”.
    John Snelling

    By John Snelling (05/01/2023)
  • That’s a memory isn’t it John! The old BH&D Bristol buses struggling to get up the hills around Brighton. I also remember the strange noise they made when ticking over at the bus stops. In the 50s BH&D had some AECs as well, but the best were the trolley buses. They would go up the Race Hill and accelerate all the way up there! No double de-clutching to get into the first gear on a ‘crash’ gearbox with those. I can’t understand why they ever did away with them.

    By Tim Sargeant (05/01/2023)

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