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30 July 2016

South Street, Portslade

Judy Middleton 2003 (revised 2016)

copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph of South Street was taken on 19 June 2016 and the old Brewery still dominates the scene.

South Street as a name is a comparatively recent title. The early censuses recorded the people as living in Portslade Village without any indication as to whereabouts their dwelling was actually located. It is therefore difficult to trace continuity of occupation except in a few cases such as Alma Cottage and Robin’s Row.

In the Street Directories of 1889 and 1899 High Street is mentioned but South Street is absent. However, South Street is present in the 1910 Directory. Today South Street continues to the junction with Drove Road but in the nineteenth century the part by the Brewery was called Frederic Terrace.

In 1974 South Street became part of Portslade Old Village Conservation Area.

Alma Cottage

 copyright © J.Middleton
Alma Cottage has a ‘no nonsense’ look about it.

It is amazing this old house has survived until modern times because it buts out at an awkward angle, leaving a very narrow pavement. Its nearest neighbour on the west side used to be an old barn but as this structure protruded even more than Alma Cottage did, it had to go in the interests of road safety.

Alma Cottage was most probably built in the mid-1850s and named after the Battle of Alma fought on 20 September 1854, it being the first battle of the Crimean War where the British and French were victorious.

|It may have been built for the Peters family, of which numerous members lived in Portslade. In 1861 the occupants of Alma Cottage were as follows:

Abraham Peters, 41-year old market gardener
His wife Harriet aged 39 and their children,
all Portslade-born
Harriet, 16
Henry, 13
Selena, 11
Ann, 9
Esther, 7
Emma, 5
Emily, 3
Abraham, 1

Tom was a later addition to the family and in 1886 it was recorded that nine children born to Abraham and Harriet Peters were all alive; this is an excellent record for Victorian times when high infant mortality was a sad fact of life.
copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
A stern-looking Harry Peters was photographed 
in the 1890s and spent most of his life living 
in Alma Cottage.

Also sharing the same roof in 1861 were Harry Peters, gardener, aged 30, his wife Selina and their sons Thomas aged 3 and eleven-month old Frederick.

Other Peters featuring in the 1861 census lived at the following locations:

Myrtle Cottage
Chelsea Cottage
Wellington Road

William Peters was landlord of the Bull Inn (later re-named Stag’s Head)
Charlotte Peters owned 10 acres of arable land south of the village.

Tom Peters, son of Abraham and Harriet, was born in 1866 in Alma Cottage. By 1906 he was landlord of Sussex Arms, Fishersgate, and had two pretty daughters named Florence aged 22 and 17-year old May. On Saturday 3 February 1906 they went on a sailing boat trip with two young men named Emery and Scholfield. They were returning home and were within a stone’s throw of their father’s house when a sudden gust of wind caught the sail and the boat capsized.

Scolfield saved his own skin by swimming for the shore. But Emery was made of sterner stuff and tried his best to save the struggling sisters. He held both of them up for some time but just as the rescue boat was nearing them, the girls released their hold on Emery and sank; no doubt their struggles and the bitter cold exhausted them. The rescue party managed to locate May and artificial respiration was applied for two hours but with no success. Florrie’s body was not found until the following day. The funeral was held at St Andrew’s Church, Portslade.

By 1871 the Peters family no longer lived at Alma Cottage; instead John King, surveyor, and his wife occupied the premises. It seems highly probable that this man was the same John King who was brother to Miss Alice King, faithful companion to wealthy Hannah Brackenbury of Adelaide Crescent. While Alice was a gentle soul, her brother was rather a grasping individual. When Hannah Brackenbury died in 1873, John King caused her trustees no end of trouble with his demands. Miss Brackenbury empowered her trustees to purchase a house for Miss King, which was named Sellaby House in honour of Hannah Brackenbury whose family came from Selaby in Yorkshire. The house is still there in Old Shoreham Road. When Alice King moved into the premises, her brother lost no time in joining her there.

John King no longer needed Alma Cottage and by 1881 there were different occupants. They were Alexander Atkinson, aged 42, his wife Louisa, aged 40, and their children Alexander 5, William 4, Edward 3, and two-year old Louisa. The census recorded that he had no occupation and so he must have been a gentleman of means.

By 1889 it seems that Walter Mews owned Alma Cottage. Walter Mews and his brother Herbert ran Portslade Brewery, built themselves substantial properties, namely Whychcote and Loxdale, and owned other pieces of land in Portslade too.

In the 1920s Mr G. Leroy lived in Alma Cottage, followed in the 1930s by a man with a delightful name – Noah Higgs.

From 1954 to 1974 John Mussell, monumental mason and sculptor, occupied Alma Cottage and created ‘Memorials of Distinction in Marble, Granite and Stone’. He exhibited a tasteful row of tombstones along the outside of the west wall.

In 1986 Alma Cottage was sold for £59,995.

But house prices were rising and in February 2003 Alma Cottage was up for sale and Mishon Mackay were inviting offers in the region of £285,000. The house was described as a spacious cottage with three reception rooms and three bedrooms. Moreover, there was a large enough space for three cars to be parked.     

The barn was situated to the west of Alma Cottage and belonged to Portslade Farm whose farmhouse next to Robin’s Row, is still standing.

It was once described as a Tithe Barn. This term dated back to the time when villagers were expected to maintain their parish priest. People gave the vicar a small part (a tithe) of all farm produce ranging from eggs to wool. It was not until the mid-19th century that this payment in kind was abolished and cash payments substituted.

It would be interesting to know whether or not the barn on this site was the one referred to by Revd John Postlewhite, vicar of Portslade, when he reported in November 1606 that the ‘vicaridge Barne is blowne down’.

In 1923 the barn was described as being built of flint and brick and had a thatched roof.

Greenfields, the removal firm, later used the barn for storage purposes.

The barn was removed in the early 1960s and before 1964.

Iron Mission Hall

Its stay was of short duration and it was placed in South Street on the north side of the barn; it was known as the Upper Portslade Mission Hall. It came originally from Trafalgar Road where it had been in use since 1890. But when the congregation had collected together enough money to build a more substantial building, it was no longer needed. The new structure was opened in 1907 and was later known as Southern Cross Evangelical Church.

But the hall’s travels were not over yet. In 1909 it was dismantled in South Street and re-erected in St Aubyn’s Road where it became the Fishersgate Mission.

Lindfield House

copyright © J.Middleton
Although there are several postcard views of Portslade Old Village, it 
seems the photographers showed little interest in capturing Lindfield House 
for posterity. In this rare view you can see the frontage
 of Lindfield House with Portslade Farmhouse in the background.

The house was built in the 1860s on a site once part of Ten Acres Field situated on the south side of South Street. It was named after a former tenant of the land called John Lindfield.

Portslade Manor Court Books mention a John Lindfield, gentleman, of Horsham, a customary tenant of Portslade Manor, and who owned land called Gatford’s and Ayre’s in 1716. When John Lindfield died, his widow Elizabeth was entitled to the right of widow’s bench; this was an old legal term meaning she could enjoy continuing to live at the property for the rest of her life.

In 1871 Thomas Mortimer, solicitor, his wife Fanny, and their numerous children occupied Lindfield House.

But by 1878 William Dudney (1831-1896) was in residence. He had been born in Woodmancote and he was the son of John Dudney who founded Portslade Brewery. In the 1850s William Dudney married Fanny, daughter of Henry Hudson, who had been farm bailiff to landowner Hugh Fuller. When Fuller died in 1858 he left land, valuables and property to his ‘chief and good servant Henry Hudson’.

John and Fanny’s eldest son was born in 1856 but he died before he was three years old and was buried in the churchyard of St Nicolas. Happily, six more children were born to the couple and there were two sons and four daughters.

copyright © J.Middleton
Horace Dudney died on 14 April 1859 and was buried in St Nicolas Churchyard,  his grave is in the foreground of this
photograph. Note the brewery chimney in the background.

The 1881 census recorded the Dudney family living in Lindfield House as follows:

William Dudney, aged 49, brewer
His wife Fanny, aged 49
Mary Maria, aged 23
William Hudson, aged 21
Sarah Jane, aged 19
Fanny Elizabeth, aged 17
Arthur Hudson, aged 14
Edith Ellen, aged 10.

There was also a niece staying with them and two servants.

It seems the children were not of the marrying kind because a decade later the household still contained six unmarried young people.

The Dudney family were staunch supporters of St Nicolas Church and between them supplied a churchwarden, two Sunday School teachers and four district visitors. Meanwhile Lindfield House played host to mothers’ meetings, a library and a coal club.

William Dudney suffered from Bright’s disease in his later years and he died in Lindfield House on 6 February 1896. He was buried in Portslade Cemetery where there is a large Dudney family burial plot south-west of the chapel. Also buried there were his wife and four of the children. In March 1896 Mrs Dudney wrote to Portslade Council thanking them for sending their condolences on the loss of her husband. By 1900 Mrs Dudney decided to move away from Portslade and appropriately enough she went to Lindfield.

 copyright © J.Middleton
The impressive Dudney family burial plot is to be found in Portslade Cemetery.

In 1902 Alfred Earl purchased Lindfield House and in the same year he received planning permission to erect a coach-house and stables. He and his wife continued to live in the house until he died in around 1926. His widow stayed on for a couple of years but by 1930 Arthur Tyson was in residence.

It seems that Mrs Tyson was less than delighted when in 1932 the field next door was made into a recreation ground now known as the Village Green. She fired off letters of complaint about noisy children to Portslade Council; there were two in 1933 and another the following year.

Arthur Tyson must have died sometime during the Second World War but his widow continued to live in Lindfield House until 1957 when she sold the property to the Baptist Church for £3,400.

The Baptist minister lived in Lindfield House while the new Baptist Church was being built and in 1961 Lindfield House was demolished.

Baptist Church

  copyright © J.Middleton
Portslade Baptist Church was photographed on 25 June 2016.

The original Portslade Baptist congregation was based around an imposing edifice with twin towers in North Street, Portslade. This area was once even more densely populated than it is today but by the 1950s new housing was being erected in Upper Portslade and Mile Oak and it seemed sensible to move north. It is perhaps ironic that they were moving north from North Street to new quarters in South Street. In 1957 Lindfield House was purchased for £3,400. The house came with grounds covering three-quarters of an acre. This was very useful because it meant that while the church was being built, the minister could live in comfort in Lindfield House. Their previous manse in Leicester Villas, Hove was sold for £2,900. Lindfield House was also used for Sunday School while Youth Club services were held at Easthill House. The new manse built behind the church was dedicated on 26 January 1961.

Meanwhile, the foundation stone of the church was laid on 16 July 1960. The opening ceremony was held on 26 January 1961. The architect of the new church, Mr B.A.P. Winton-Lewis, handed the keys to Sir Herbert Janes (ex-president of the Baptist Union). Revd A.E. Johnson, the minister at Portslade from 1929 to 1934, unveiled a plaque in the entrance hall inscribed with a list of the ministers of the previous church in North Street. Mr C.F. Goodwin (honorary treasurer) unveiled another plaque that recorded the history of the Baptist church in Portslade from its small beginning in 1870. Revd E.G. Rudman of Holland Road Baptist Church presided over the service. The church was packed and the service had to be relayed to those standing outside.

Builders A. Alldritt erected the church and the total cost of the site, manse and church came to £22,190. Remarkably, almost half of that amount had been raised before the church was opened and the balance was cleared by 25 September 1979. In recent years the whole roof plus its rafters have had to be replaced.

The church is a dual-use building and can be used for church activities other than worship. But the large wooden cross, suspended in front of blue velvet curtains, reminds all that this is a dedicated building. During the 1960s and 1970s there were flourishing groups of Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade. They were expected to behave themselves properly on Church Parade Sundays. The Boys’ Brigade leader ensured good behaviour by marching up and down the rows of seats, swagger stick tucked under his arm, keeping an eye on things.

In the 1990s Brighton & Hove Scrabble Club held weekly sessions at the hall.

The grounds used to include a hard tennis court situated behind the church on the south-west side. Local people were able to hire it and one regular was Jeff who used to run the newsagent’s in South Street. In 1985 the land was used to build a block of tasteful brick-built flats called appropriately enough, Lindfield. It was the Baptist’s Men’s Movement that was behind this development for senior citizens. English Churches Housing now runs it.

In the early hours of Tuesday 18 July 2000 a car went off the road on Lock’s Hill, ran across the Village Green and demolished a large section of wall between the green and the church. The car blocked the driveway and car park and shattered a church window. It was estimated that the cost of the damage would run into thousands of pounds. Revd Philip Cook and Councillor Bob Carden thought there should be a proper crash barrier around the green to prevent this sort of thing happening again.


1961-1974 Revd E.C.K. Starling
1974-1979 Revd R. Webber
1980-1986 Revd Gordon Steer
1988-1994 Revd C. Weller served as a Moderator because there was no resident minister
1994- Revd Philip O. Cook, still ministering in 2016   
Lisbon Cottages

 copyright © A.L Shepherd
The Victorian terrace houses on the right were once known as Lisbon Cottages. The single story building on the right (now demolished) was a small beer shop named the Olive Branch.

This terrace of three houses is located on the east side of the road, near High Street. The cottages were later numbered as 3, 4 and 5 South Street.
copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
William Phelp lived with his family
 at 26 South Street and was 
photographed in around 1906.

Deeds for the middle cottage reveal that under the will of William Cheesman, miller, dated 1 December 1785, the property was left to his daughter Susannah Peters. In 1866 John Dudney gave the cottage to Ellen Dudney while in 1877 William Fraser sold it to William Brazier for £250.

At the south end of the terrace there was once a small beer shop named Olive Branch.

In 1881 three families occupied the cottages as follows:

Henry Gates, coal merchant, his wife, two daughters and two sons
Henry Attree, police constable, his wife, one daughter and two sons
Henry Hills, drayman, his wife and two young lodgers

By 1889 F. Peters, tobacconist, occupied the northern-most cottage. It is fascinating to note that in 2016 the same premises are still in use for the sale of tobacco and cigarettes, besides being a mini-store, a newsagent and the village Post Office since late 2015. Today the shop is numbered at 28 South Street and is called Rishi News. The bus stop was situated outside this shop from March 1957 to March 2001.

  copyright © J.Middleton
Rishi News, convenience store and Post Office was photographed on 25 June 2016.

Myrtle Cottages (since converted into shops)

copyright © J.Middleton
The dwellings next door to Robin’s Row were once known as Myrtle Cottages.

This terrace of five properties was built at an angle to Robin’s Row. Indeed the two terraces are incredibly close together but it does preserve the evidence of how people in Portslade Village were once crowded together. There were courts of small cottages at the eastern end of High Street and through a twitten at the back of the George Inn, all long gone. The rather charming name of Myrtle Cottages has gone out of use but they remained as domestic dwellings until the 1930s.

Number 1 – This was the first cottage to be converted to commercial use. In 1934 Mrs Edith Sherlock ran a general store here but by 1938 she had decided to specialise in confectionary.
In 1951 Lewis James Virgo, boot repairer, occupied the premises.
In 1952 Roy Perry purchased the shop and he ran a business called Truframes where he made lampshades by hand. Silk was used and mounted on a wire base with a copper lacquer to prevent staining. The lampshades were made to suit the customer’s requirements and could be elaborate with trimmings and bobbles or quite plain. Mr Perry had served a seven-year apprenticeship in Hove learning his craft. In 1961 he decided to let the ground floor and moved his enterprise into what had been his bedroom upstairs. You could often see him hard at work through the upstairs window. He was able to produce 40,000 lampshades a year and by 1982 he had notched up 30 years on the same site.
Meanwhile, Ladbroke’s opened a betting shop on the ground floor. In the days before indoor cigarette smoking was banned, people walking past received a blast of cigarette-laden air when the door was opened. By 1990 a computer firm occupied the upstairs part. In February 1990 a fire caused extensive damage to the premises. A resident in Robin’s Row alerted the fire brigade.

Number 3 – In 1938 Thomas W. Smart had a small draper’s shop here but by 1939 Henry James Newman was running a fried fish shop. The business eventually passed to his son Ted Newman who ran it with his Canadian-born wife. When they decided to retire they moved right away from Sussex. But they missed their old haunts and returned to live in Shoreham. Sadly Ted Newman had only been back in the area for some three months before he died.
On 20 March 1999 the business, now called the Rainbow Fish Bar, was gutted by fire that might have been caused by an accumulation of fat in the extractor fans or by the gas pilot jets. Two fire engines from Hove arrived to tackle the blaze; traffic through the village was reduced to single file while traffic coming down from Mile Oak was diverted. In addition there was slight smoke damage to the properties on either side. After a lengthy interval the shop was completely refurbished and re-opened as the Village Fish Bar (Tasty Fries). Residents will remember the friendly Chinese man and his wife who ran the business with their colourful Chinese calendars adorning the wall. Today it is still in business as a fried fish shop, but under different management, and it is called the Old Village Fish Bar.

Number 5 – It is interesting to note that ever since the cottage was converted to commercial use, it has been used as a hairdresser’s. It started off in 1938 with Mrs A.E. Ayling.
In 1989 Donna Maria Ayling opened her hair-dressing salon here.

Number 7 – The original Post Office in Portslade was located in the High Street and it only moved into these premises in the early 1950s. In 1951 Bennett & Grace, grocers, owned the business and by 1954 the Post Office had been added. Later, Mr Grace ran it and still presided over the grocery side of the business. Many residents will remember his no-nonsense manner. For example, a polite request for a piece of cheddar to be cut off an appetising-looking slab was refused on the grounds that the cheddar already in use had to be finished first. Perhaps there were no storage facilities to store such items out the back.
By 1998 Chris and Stella Jolliff ran the business, which was officially known as the Upper Portslade Post Office. In February 1998 Camelot, the National Lottery operators, presented the Post Office with their Gold Award. It was stated that only 13% of the 35,000 retailers in the country who sold lottery tickets have won the award.

copyright © D.Sharp
This 1950s shop sign came to light in 2016 when renovations were being carried out.

In around 2004 Mrs Charan Dhajan, who lived in Worthing, purchased the business. Her mother, Mrs Balwani Saimbi, was often to be seen about the place, helping out in the living quarters at the back. At 9.20 a.m. on 17 October 2007 two armed robbers of Asian appearance burst into the Post Office demanding cash. They attacked 76-year old Mrs Saimbi, throwing a toaster at her and a metal chair, causing her to fall to the ground screaming. Mrs Dhajan shouted at them to leave her mother alone. The robbers were unable to unlock the safe but still managed to get their hands on thousands of pounds in cash. They fled in a burgundy saloon car. A female customer, also in her seventies, was hurt and treated at the scene. But Mrs Saimbi was taken to hospital with concussion. Mr Malvika Patel, owner of Rishi News, said ‘It’s unbelievable’.
By 2015 Mrs Dhajan had retired and part of nearby Rishi News was converted in order that a Post Office counter could be installed and the business incorporated with the running of the mini-convenience store and newsagent.

Number 9 – Albert John Kent and his wife opened a greengrocer’s in these premises in around 1938 and remarkably their son John Kent was still running the shop in the early 1970s. The shop was old-fashioned and basic and with no attempt at pretty displays of produce with vegetables still languishing in cardboard boxes.

copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph was taken in around 1973 when there was still a shop at number 9.

By around 1972 the shop was called Marlens and the owners began to stock a wider range of goods. Unfortunately, the business proved to be unviable and it was claimed it was partly due to the fact that people preferred to shop at supermarkets. After the shop closed, there was some talk about the place being turned into a picture gallery of sorts, which residents thought a most unlikely idea. In the event, the shop reverted to being a private residence.

Portslade Farmhouse

copyright © J.Middleton
Portslade Farmhouse was once known as the Old Schoolhouse

This building stands at an angle to Robin’s Row. It is thought that the premises also served as the village school until the Brackenbury Schools were built in Lock’s Hill in 1872. In fact in 1891 the building was still referred to as the Old Schoolhouse.

Portslade Farm formed part of the Portslade House estate and contained 87 acres and there was grazing for around 200 sheep. In the 1870s farmer John William Smith lived in the farmhouse.

copyright © D.Sharp
The brick wall and brass pipe, about 20 metres from Portslade Farmhouse is all that remains of the original village pump (outside house No.19) on the west side of South Street. The Old Village was not connected to the mains water supply until 1879.

But by around 1880 the Broomfield family moved in. Martin Broomfield was born in 1839 at Cuckfield. In 1861 he married Eliza West and they proved to be a prolific couple producing at least nine children. The 1881 census recorded them at Portslade Farmhouse and Martin Broomfield farmed 64 acres, employing five men and three boys. The rest of the family was as follows:

Wife Eliza, aged 42
Fanny, 18
Martin, 15
Eliza, 13
Henry, 10
Roger, 8
Percy, 6
Ruth, 5
Herbert, 5 months

 copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
This portrait of Marianne Stallabrass 
was taken in the 1890s and reveals her 
strong but kindly character.
In 1891 Martin and Eliza were still in residence and the children at home were as follows:

Fanny, 26
Henry, 21
Roger, 19
Percy, 17
Ruth 15
Herbert, 10

The three eldest sons all worked as gardeners. Martin had a younger brother John Broomfield who was also born in Cuckfield and went on to farm at Mile Oak. By 1911 Martin Broomfield still lived at Portslade in 1 Aldrington Cottages.

By 1896 the redoubtable Marianne Stallabrass had taken over Portslade Farm Her advertisement proclaimed she was a market gardener and florist, and she sold poultry, dairy-fed pork and sausages, butter, new-laid eggs and milk. In addition there was good pasture for horses requiring rest. Mrs Stallabrass had taken the unusual step of leaving her husband together with their three children – a course of action not undertaken lightly in Victorian times. Her business must have prospered because not many years later she was installed in a spacious house called Hill Brow, the site now occupied by part of Rowan Close. She died in 1908 at the age of 61.

copyright © Robert Jeeves of Step Back in Time
Portslade Farmhouse photographed in around 1908.

In 1910 a solicitor by the name of S.H. Sayers was living in the house but during the Great War the Army occupied the premises.

Afterwards, it became a civilian residence once more and in the 1920s farmer David Reed lived there.

In 1923 the farm was up for sale and the particulars of Old Portslade Farmhouse were as follows:

The house was built of brick and flint with cement and roughcast finish and a slate roof.

On the ground floor there was a double-entrance hall with a stone floor.

The drawing room measured 16 feet 6 inches by 13 feet and had a bay window, a marble mantel and a tiled hearth

The morning room had wainscoting around the walls

The dining room measured 16 feet 3 inches by 13 feet and had French windows

The kitchen measured 24 feet by 20 feet; there was a kitchener plus a sink, cupboards and a match-boarded store room

There was an outside water closet

There were three bedrooms on the first floor with the front bedroom measuring 16 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 9 inches and there was a bay window

There were a further two bedrooms in a detached iron building measuring 24 feet by 12 feet 3 inches.

The farm buildings were as follows:

A dairy built of brick and flint with a slate roof

A stable with five stalls and a loft over them

A brick-built and tiled cow stall with three standings

A range of eleven pig pounds with a boiling house

Two buildings with slate and tiled roofs

A paddock

A small area of farmland consisting of three acres and 38 poles

A liquid manure pump

According to Betty Figg, in the 1920s and 1930s there was a sunken lawn in front of the house on which croquet was played; there was also a pond nearby.

Portslade Farm included Freeman’s Court Cottages that stood on the south east side of Lock’s Hill; the cottages were built in two terraces and one set remains to this day although now it is a single residence and it has the name Freeman’s Cottage and the date 1798 above the front door.

In November 1933 Mr G.W. Warr on behalf of Mr F. Walker sought planning permission to develop the land but Portslade Council turned it down.

Perhaps Mr Walker was frustrated by his development plans coming to nothing. At any rate it seems the farmhouse remained unoccupied for some time during the 1930s. But by 1938 A.E. Goodings & Sons, electrical engineers, ran their business from there.

By 1947 Matthew Giles had purchased the property. He came from a gypsy family but decided to put down roots instead of travelling about. Mr Giles died in the 1970s and his funeral was a big occasion for all his gypsy family and friends. In fact Portslade Old Village came to a virtual standstill with traffic completely clogged up. There was a great wealth of wreaths too. Mr Giles had a daughter called Bubbles and she married Wally Harwood who became something of a village character. He occupied the small iron building that used to house two bedrooms back in the 1920s. Later on the iron building became a dining room but when Mr Walker wanted to turn it into a residence, Portslade Council had turned him down his plans.

Robin’s Row

 copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph is a reminder of how crowded together Portslade Old Village used to be. There is not much space between Robin’s Row and Myrtle Cottages, and long-gone Hangleton Court and Fraser’s Court in High Street were cramped.

The cottages were built in around 1740 and the name Robin’s Row goes back as far as the 19th century and certainly it was used in the 1841 census. If the name actually referred to the five flint-built cottages still in existence, then in times past they must have been extraordinarily overcrowded.

The 1841 census listed 33 names; in 1851 there were no less than 38 names; in 1861 and 1871 there were 30 but by 1881 the number had gone down to twenty-two.

The majority of inhabitants earned their living by labouring, either in general work, on farmland or in the brick-fields. There was the occasional cord-wainer, carter, groom, or police constable.

For instance, in 1841 John Brook, Reuben Curtis, William Prevet, Allen Haide and George Aldridge were all labourers while William Godley, George Godley (aged 13), John Lelliott and Edward Butcher were agricultural labourers.

In 1851 Portslade-born Richard Patching must have presided over a cramped household because it included his wife, four sons, three daughters and a niece.

In 1881 blacksmith Walter Burgess lodged in Robin’s Row; he worked at Foredown Forge in Foredown Road.
 copyright © J.Middleton
The frontage of Robin’s Row.

In 1895 under the will of Edward Blaker, a great deal of land in Portslade plus five ‘substantial flint-built and tiled cottages’ were put up for sale. Each cottage contained two rooms on the ground floor, two bedrooms on the first floor and an attic. There was a brick yard at the back and four outside privies used in common; water was laid on. The tenants paid 3/2d a week, which produced an annual rental income of £41-3-4d.

Robin’s Row was sold for £440. It seems likely that Isaac Holland, landlord of the George in the village, purchased the cottages. At any rate in 1901 he presented plans for new drains for the cottages.

It is interesting to note that a letter from residents of Robin’s Row dated 11 June 1938 was sent to Portslade Council complaining about flooding. The flooding problem was to become a recurring problem until recent times when new storm drains were installed and storm overflow tanks installed under the adjacent car park eased the problem. But even today a severe deluge can still cause trouble. For example, on 7 June 2016 Portslade Old Village was flooded and there was another episode of flooding there in the same month too.

One resident who remembered flooding well was Mrs Doo who lived at 5 Robin’s Row in the 1940s and 1950s. She shared the cottage with her disabled son and once when she was out at work during a time of heavy rain, he was found sitting in his chair marooned in the middle of a flooded room. Mrs Doo had once managed a small sweet shop next to the Theatre Royal in Brighton. But she somehow lost that job and had to take domestic jobs to make ends meet.

There is an interesting tradition concerning Robin’s Row with some old-timers believing the cottages once stood on the banks of a stream and the terrace was therefore like a little quay. This may be a folk memory of a winterbourne stream that ran down where Valley Road is today and ended in a large pond north of the Old Shoreham Road.

On 22 September 1971 Robin’s Row became Grade II listed buildings. This means the owners have to respect the ancient dwellings by not, for example, installing windows with plastic frames. The old way of opening some windows, also apparent in other old cottages in the village, was sliding one window in front of another, rather than using sash cords or opening outwards. You can see an example high up in the end cottage.

In 1985 when the end cottage nearest South Street was up for sale, it was claimed that it had been a foreman’s cottage because it was larger then the rest. There were original tiles on the ground floor and evidence of a window being blocked up to avoid paying window tax. The price was £32,500. By July 1999 the same cottage was on sale for £92,950.

Number 35

 copyright © J.Middleton
The corner property is numbered in South Street although it faces High Street.

This building is the corner property facing High Street but it is still numbered as being in South Street.
It used to belong to Portslade Brewery and in September 1934 they wanted to turn it into a shop. Portslade Council refused at first but later agreed to an amended plan and it became an off-licence. In March 1938 the licence was transferred from E.C. Stanford to F.G.Browne of Walton-on-Thames. It remained an off-licence with Queenie ruling the roost until 1973 and after it closed Queenie took a job in the box-making department of Le Carbone. The building must have been in a poor state because it was carefully demolished in 1973 but then re-built in a similar style so that the top storey looks identical to what was there before. An estate agent by the name of Dodd moved into the premises and you can still see the initials in the mosaic tiles in front of the door. There was also a solicitor in the floor above to facilitate the legal side of house buying. When Dodd closed down there was some interesting talk that the next business might be a takeaway curry house. But there were some objections and the plan fell through. Subsequently another estate agent Sinnott Green moved in. It is amusing to recall that the sign-writer employed to emblazon the words ‘Sinnott Green Independent Estate Agents’ used a letter ‘a’ in the word ‘independent’. Probably, quite a few beady-eyed residents were quick to point out the error, which was soon amended.           

copyright © J.Middleton
The old Brewery, St Nicolas Church Portslade, the Village Green and Whychcote are all located in South Street

The following locations in South Street are in separate articles on this blog:-

Portslade Brewery,   St Nicolas Church, Portslade,   The Village Green, Portslade,  &  Whychcote.

  copyright © J.Middleton
A pleasing new addition to South Street is this dwarf wall thoughtfully stocked with purple-flowering plants.


Census Returns
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Portslade Council Minute Books
Street Directories

Thanks are due to Robert Jeeves of Step Back in Time 36 Queen’s Road, Brighton, BN1 3XD for allowing me to reproduce his 'Portslade Farmhouse' photograph

Copyright © J.Middleton 2016
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