It is illegal to download any image from 'Portslade in the Past' for your own website or for publication without the permission of the copyright owner.

04 November 2018

St Andrews's Road, Portslade

Judy Middleton 2003 (revised 2018) 

copyright © J.Middleton
These handsome houses on the north side were photographed on 24 September 2018

Ancient Past

The west end of St Andrew’s Road covers the site of an ancient burial ground. In the Hove Gazette (30 July 1898) under the headline ‘The Discovery of Relics at Portslade’ there was a report of finds made a week or two previously. They included ‘nine skeletons recently exhumed in St Andrew’s Road (that) are in all likelihood some of a number contained in what was in the distant past an Anglo-Saxon burial ground.’

In around 1926 workmen were digging a trench in the road outside three lock-up garages at the west end of St Andrew’s Road when they came across parts of a skeleton and an Anglo-Saxon cinerary urn.

In 1993 more human bones were found in the corner site of St Andrew’s Road and Church Road, where the modern dental practice is today.

copyright © J.Middleton 
The modern dental practice stands on land that was once part of an Anglo-Saxon Cemetery

Construction

The first mention of St Andrew’s Road in local records occurs in 1894 when Mr A. Loader submitted plans for a new road. It is interesting to note that in August 1895 Mr Loader was obliged to submit an application to the District Council Steyning East. However, at around this time officials were seeking for Portslade-by-Sea to be made into an urban district with its own council. In which case, Steyning would have no interest in what was happening at Portslade.

Portslade-by-Sea Planning Approvals

copyright © J.Middleton
These houses were among the first to be built in St Andrew’s Road and are situated at the east end of the north side

1896 – Miss Dudeney, 10 houses (a member of the Dudeney Portslade Brewery family)
1897 – W. Hillman, 2 houses
1898 – W. Bartlett, 2 houses
1899 – B. Baker, 2 houses
1900 – H. Baker, 2 houses
1901 – W. Hillman, 9 houses
1902 – W. Hillman, 4 houses
1902 – G. Bradford, 2 houses
1902 – Dent & Kille, 2 houses
1902 – H. Dudeney, 1 house
1903 – W. Hillman, 5 houses
1909 – W. Hillman, 10 houses
1912 – W. H. Hillman, 9 houses
1913 – W. Hillman, 3 houses (numbers 69 to 73)
1930 – W. Hillman, 3 garages with 2 flats over
1930 – W. H. Hillman, 6 houses and 1 garage

copyright © G. Osborne
With thanks to Mr G. Osborne for granting permission for the reproduction of the above photograph  from his private collection.
An early 1900s view of St Andrew's Road looking east to Station Road, sadly the trees were removed many years ago

Walter Hillman
 copyright © J.Middleton
The grave of Walter Hillman and 
his wife is one of the finest in 
Portslade Cemetery

Walter Hillman was an important man in Victorian and Edwardian Portslade. He ran businesses at North Street with stores at Camden Place, Chapel Place and Ellen Street – all in Portslade. His commercial net was spread wide because as well as being a corn merchant, hay and straw dealer, seedsman, and general carting contractor, he was also a dairyman, greengrocer and fruiterer supplying milk, butter, eggs and vegetables from Cowhayes Farm, and he had a depot at Aldrington Basin from where he could supply Coomb rock flint, sand and shingle. From the list of planning approvals, it is also apparent that he was responsible for building more houses in St Andrew’s Road than anyone else.

As regards public service, Walter Hillman served as chairman of Portslade Council for eleven years, was a Justice of the Peace for 22 years, and vicar’s warden at St Andrew’s Church, Portslade, for thirteen years.

His son, Albert William Hillman, had an equally distinguished career in local government, and was even elected as Mayor of Hove for an unprecedented 5th year of office. 

 copyright ©  Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Walter Hilman's son Albert William Hillman, the Mayor of Hove leaving All Saints Church, Hove in 1938

 copyright © D. Sharp
This beautiful stained glass window was 
given in memory of Walter Hillman. 
Although, unfortunately, it is no
 longer to be seen at Portslade,
 it has been preserved for possible 
future use elsewhere
Albert was also notable for saving Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club from liquidation in 1940, by which time he was vice-chairman of the club.

In the 1908 Directory Walter Hillman was listed at 75 and 77 St Andrew’s Road, while his son, Albert William Hillman, later lived at 65 St Andrew’s Road, and moved to Hove in 1928.

Walter Hillman died on 7 April 1926 aged 74, but his wife Emma had pre-deceased him and died on 3 July 1907 at the age of 54. Their grave in Portslade Cemetery is marked by a magnificent stone in rose marble.

There was also a lovely, stained glass window in St Andrew’s Church, Portslade, to Walter Hillman’s memory. The window contains Masonic symbols such as the plumb-line and compass, and both Walter and his son were keen Freemasons. Indeed, Albert William was the first initiate of the Duke of Richmond Lodge, Portslade. 

The Baker Family

The Portslade undertaking firm was founded in 1855 when it was known as Constable & Everton, and then it was run by three generations of the Baker family.

Daniel Baker was born at Burwash, but by 1851 he had settled at Forge Cottage, Foredown, with his wife Charlotte and four children, where he worked as a blacksmith.

copyright © D. Sharp
Portslade Forge and Cottage 
the former home of the Baker Family
By 1861 the family had moved to south Portslade, then still known as Copperas Gap, and his son James joined him as a blacksmith. Daniel then branched out into the undertaking business while still keeping the forge. Their base was at 51 North Street, Portslade. The list of planning approvals shows that the Baker family also took an interest in the development of nearby St Andrew’s Road.

Daniel Baker was still running the undertaking business in the 1890s then his sons Norman and Britton took over. Norman Baker died in 1928 and was buried in Portslade Cemetery. He was a stalwart of the Baptist Church and was a trustee at the time of his death. Although Revd George Burrett conducted the rites at the graveside, he was followed by Brother J. Miles who read the funeral office of the Ancient Order of Foresters – Norman having been a member of Court Olive Branch for 50 years.
Norman’s sons, Herbert and Syd then took over the firm, and Syd soldiered on until retirement in the 1970s. The business moved in around 1940 to 52 Station Road where it stayed until the 1970s and then moved to 60 Church Road.

copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries.
North Street in the 1930s with H. Baker & Co workshop on the right next to the Salvation Army Citadel

There was another firm called H. Baker & Co, and of course there was endless confusion between the two. This firm was founded by Herbert Baker, another of Daniel’s sons. At one time the two businesses shared a workshop and forge in North Street. H. Baker & Co became timber importers, ironmongers, builders’ merchants, haulage contractors and joinery manufacturer.

Architecture

St Andrew’s Road struck a new note in the construction of housing in Portslade-by-sea. Whereas nearby dwellings were more humble affairs with small back yards and front doors opening directly onto the pavement, the houses in St Andrew’s Road were far more spacious and had front and back gardens. Some of the houses on the north side have retained their lovely tiled footpaths, which are quite as striking as any to be found in the posher areas of Hove.

copyright © J.Middleton
These houses on the south side have a unique style and are a pleasure to see
 
The wonderful run of gabled houses on the north side – with a matching few on the south side – built in white brick present a pleasing homogeneous appearance. These houses are embellished with a red brick strip, and scalloped red tiles in the apex.
Also worthy of note are the splendid structures on the south side with mock-Tudor beams, and further to the west the unusual houses built of variegated bricks with red brick used around the windows. 

But not all was sweetness and light in the early days. The houses were built before there was such a thing as main drainage in Portslade. Consequently, there were cesspits in the garden, and probably many still remain undetected underground. At least two have come to light in recent times and reveal them to be well-built rounded structures of brick. The lack of drainage meant that bathrooms had to be added later on. 

In 1903 Revd C. R. Cooper agreed to give up part of the land on the north west corner in order that the road might be widened. But he insisted that the council should be responsible for building a flint wall on the new frontage.

copyright © G. Osborne
With thanks to Mr G. Osborne for granting permission for the reproduction of the above photograph  from his private collection.
An early 1900s view of St Andrew's Road looking east to Station Road from the junction with Norway Street.

Orchard

Mr J. Goble was the tenant of land behind St Andrew’s Road, which included an orchard. He was still there in the 1930s when Portslade Council had recently purchased the land. Mr Goble agreed to pay the council a rent of £18-13s for nine months,

House Notes

Number 3 – This was a private house occupied by a Mrs Pratt. But it was also the location for the first telephone exchange in Portslade that became operational in 1903. It was probably a single-position switchboard, and it lasted in this location until 1912.

copyright © J.Middleton
This house was once known as the Hove Refuge

Number 39 – In the 1920s this house was known as the Hove Refuge and it was the place where unmarried mothers-to-be came to live before they gave birth. The establishment was run by the Chichester Diocesan Purity Association.

 copyright © J.Middleton
It is good news for the locality that this splendid house has been so well restored recently

Number 46 – This house is particularly impressive. It occupies a prominent site on the corner of St Andrew’s Road and Norway Street. It is now in fine fettle, having been extensively restored recently. The house’s original name The Avon is still to be seen in gold lettering in the fanlight above the front door.

Numbers 67-73 

copyright © J.Middleton
Portslade Police Station was situated here. Public sentiment would like the cells and adjacent rooms in the basement preserved for posterity, especially since they are in their original condition. But in a time when public money is in short supply, it seems an unlikely outcome

In the 1960s these houses were still a police enclave where serving policemen and their families lived in tied houses, and Portslade Police Station was in operation. The houses were spacious – for example, number 73 had a main bedroom that stretched the whole width of the house, while the two other bedrooms were also of generous size. But the bathroom was tiny, squeezed into a space on the quarter landing. Downstairs, there was a sitting room, a dining room, a kitchen, a scullery and a walk-in larder. The kitchen had a coal-fired boiler, and there was a large airing cupboard upstairs – no central heating in those days. 

 copyright © J.Middleton
These houses were once part of the police enclave
 
The drawback in the 1960s was the nearby Portslade Gas Works that belched fumes and smuts relentlessly, and the swarms of flies that invaded the scullery should the back door be left open for air. How times change. Now the houses in St Andrew’s Road are worth more money than the newer homes built in the cleaner air north of Portslade Old Village.

copyright © J.Middleton
Mrs Payne’s erstwhile lodging house where the 
notorious Parker and Probert once stayed
Number 76 

Mrs Payne ran a lodging house here and on 7 November 1933 two new guests arrived – they were Frederick William Parker, a 21-year old labourer, and Albert Probert, a 26-year old fitter. However, they did not grace the premises for long. 

On 13 November 1933 P. C. Harry Peters discovered Joseph Bedford, aged 80, lying injured on the floor of the small second-hand shop he ran on the corner of Clarence Street and North Street, Portslade. At first people assumed that the old man had stumbled and injured himself, and that there had been no foul play. 

But the policeman had his suspicions and on 17 December 1933 the celebrated pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury confirmed them. Meanwhile, there had been a helpful telephone call from Worthing Police Station to say they were holding two men who had been acting suspiciously. One man had admitted to hitting an old man over the head – he did not know he had since died. It was obvious that the two men were intent on robbery because Probert carried a tyre lever wrapped in a stocking, while Parker had an unloaded revolver. 

The two men were tried at Lewes Assizes, the case beginning on 14 March 1934. On 16 March the jury retired but only needed 35 minutes to make up their minds on a verdict of guilty. On 4 May 1934 Probert and Parker were hanged at Wandsworth Prison. It was the first double execution since 1921, when strangely enough two men were also hanged for a murder in Sussex. 
 
Number 85 – The 1916 Directory recorded that this house was the quarters for Salvation Army officers whose citadel was just a short distance away in North Street.
Fire
In 1970 a fire broke out in the timber yard south of St Andrew’s Road. A dozen families were evacuated, still wearing their pyjamas, and took shelter in neighbouring houses for almost two hours until the firemen told them it was safe to return home.

Sources

Census returns
Contemporary newspapers
Middleton J, Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Hove Gazette (30 July 1898)
Mr G. Osborne
Portslade Council Minute Books at The Keep
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove 
Street Directories

Copyright © J.Middleton 2018
page layout by D. Sharp