07 March 2023

George Street (formerly Camden Road), Portslade.

Judy Middleton & D. Sharp. 2002 (revised 2023)

copyright © D. Sharp
The junction of George Street and North Street in February 2023, all residential houses were demolished many years ago and replaced with industrial units. The houses in the background are in St Andrew's Road.
George Street's junction with Ellen Street was demolished many years ago, therefore George Street is now a 'no through road'.

Back in the 1870s this road was called Camden Road, but most probably it caused confusion with nearby Camden Place, and so it became George Street, Portslade. As there were only a few buildings, it was unlikely to be mistaken for George Street, Hove.

copyright © G. Osborne
The junction of George Street with North Street in Edwardian times.

In the 1870s there was an orchard at the north-west corner – this was most probably the apple orchard known to have existed behind St Andrew’s Road into the 20
th century.

Number 7 – In the 1890s, Portslade born, Walter Peters (b.1861) and his wife, Harriet (b.1866) lived at this address. Walter was a stoker at the Portslade Gas Works, he would have travelled to work each day across the harbour on the Portslade Ferry Boat.
Walter’s father was Martin Peters who lived nearby, he was the publican of The Jolly Sailors in Wellington Road.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Portslade's George Street and surrounding roads in 1928, all the housing in, Wellington RoadBelgrave Square, St James Square, Camden Street, Clarence Street, North Street, West Street, Ellen Street, George Street, East Street and Clarendon Place was demolished many years ago.

George Street's Properties

George Street ran north from a junction with North Street, and consisted of only 21 properties in the whole length of the road. In 1910 there were 15 small terraced houses on the right side of the road and and 4 houses on the left side of the road and in-between these houses was Mr Arthur Greenfield's general store, the Bensley & Company's coal merchants depot and at number 2 was Mrs Winchester's laundry which had previously been a small Co-operative Society shop which had moved a few years earlier to Portslade's busy shopping area in North Street.

George Street & The First World War

The years of the First World War were absolutely devastating for the small community in George Street with only 19 residential houses in the whole road, five near neighbours had suffered either the loss of a young son, or in one case, a husband.

Number 6 - Bernard Comber was born on May 22, 1891, at 6 George Street, Portslade. His parents were Charles , a cowman and Annette. Bernard had seven siblings, by 1901 the family which had grown by another child had moved a few streets away to Wellington Road. Records show that by 1911, Bernard had moved to Worthing and was working as a milkman and was married to Caroline Wye.

Bernard Comber joined the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1915. On the 9th April 1917 Bernard was involved in the attack on German trenches near Arras when he was severely wounded, and sadly died the following day in a field hospital. Bernard died aged 26, leaving a wife and two sons.
Bernard Comber’s name is listed on the War Memorials, in East Hill Park, Worthing and Haywards Heath where he enlisted into the Royal Sussex Regiment.

Number 14 - The 1911 census shows William Charles, a dock worker at Shoreham Harbour, was living at this address with his wife Ellen. They had a very large family in their very small terraced house - William (24) a labourer, Albert (17) a carman, John (14) a barber’s assistant, Clara (12), Winifred (10) and Ernest (8) all pupil’s at St Andrew’s School, Dorothy (3) and Rose (1).

Brighton Graphic
  John F. Charles
of 14, George Street
Killed in action on
24 November 1916 aged 20

Their son John F. Charles enlisted into the 2nd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. He was killed in action on the 24th November 1916 aged 20. He is buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt L'Abbe, France. John Charles' name is listed on the War Memorials in Easthill Park and St Andrew’s Church

Number 18
- In 1911 George Lavender (55) a carter, and his wife Rose (51) lived at this address with their children - George (16) a brass plate engraver, James (13) an errand boy and Dorothy (10) a pupil at St Andrew’s School. The family had previously lived at Number 3 George Street where their children were born. Before joining the Navy, James was an Engine Driver on the short railway line at Portslade Gas Works.

Photo Credit - Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
H.M.S. Ghurka

During the First World War, James W. Lavender served as a Stoker 2
nd Class on H.M.S. Ghurka and was lost at sea at the age of 19 years old when his ship hit a German mine off Dungeness on the 8th February 1917. Only 5 of the crew survived, sadly 74 of the crew were killed in the explosion. The wreck of H.M.S. Ghurka is now designated as a ‘protective place’ under the Military Remains Act 1986. James Lavender’s name is listed on the War Memorials in Easthill Park, St Andrew’s Church and Portslade Gas Works, which was demolished many years ago, the fate of the Gas Works War Memorial is not known.

(The non-standard spelling of ‘Ghurka’ was used for the name of this ship, which was built at the Hawthorn Leslie's shipyard at Hebburn on the River Tyne in 1907)

Number 19 - Walter Pumfrey (b.1873) was employed at Portslade Gas Works. He lived at 19 George Street in 1911 with his Portslade born family - wife Philadelphia (b.1873) and their children, Walter T., a coal carter, George H., a waggon boy with the Anglo American Oil Company in the Aldrington Basin, Nellie and Winnie who were pupils at St Andrew’s School, and baby son, Albert.

Brighton Graphic
George H. Pumfrey
of 19, George Street
Killed in action on
23 July 1916 aged 21

Their sons both served in the First World War. George Pumfrey joined the Royal Sussex Regiment 2nd Battalion and was killed in action on the Somme on the 23 July 1916 aged 21. George’s name is commemorated on the War Memorials in Easthill Park and St Andrew’s Church, Portslade.

George's brother Walter T. Pumfrey was passed medically unfit for active front line duty, but was accepted into the 6th Battalion of the Labour Corps. The Labour Corps was made up with both skilled and unskilled British and Empire military personnel. They carried wounded soldiers from the front and also built military roads and railways. Walter survived the War.

 copyright © G. Osborne
An Edwardian view of Portslade Gas Works, a view the men of George Street would have known well as they travelled across the harbour on the Portslade Ferry boat each day to get to their work.

Number 21 - In 1911 Frederick J Candy (28) a fitter’s labourer at Portslade Gas Works lived at this address with his wife Alice (27) and their daughter Lilian (2). During the First World War, Frederick was a gunner with the 315th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Sadly he was killed in action on the 20th September 1918 aged 35 and was buried in Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manancourt, Somme, France. Frederick Candy is listed on the War Memorials in Easthill Park, St Andrew’s Church and the Portslade Gas Works which was demolished many years ago, the fate of the Gas Works War Memorial is not known.

 copyright ©  Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Herald 24 September 1921
The five young men of George Street were all former pupils of St Andrew's School and were listed on the School's War Memorial.
300 former pupils of St Andrew's joined the armed forces in the First World War, sadly 70 of them lost their lives.
St Andrew's School was demolished during the Second World War, the fate of the School's War Memorial is not known.

Bensley & Co - was a coal merchant who had a depot in George Street, in 1908 the company won first prize in the single horses in 4 wheelers Class at the annual Whit-Monday Horse Parade in Brighton.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Herald 13 June 1908

copyright © G. Osborne
  In the background a Bensley & Co horse drawn coal cart can be seen leaving George Street and turning in to a busy North Street.

Bert Pierce
– He was born in George Street in 1903. The family business was situated at 25 Station Road, Portslade, and later at 58 Boundary Road, Hove; it was known as A. Pierce & Son.

Bert remembered the days when the house was lit by gas, using a bats-wing burner, which was a popular model. Gas might have been more modern, but Bert said it did not give out much more light than a candle. Then the Pierces had a new inverted gas burner installed and that did produce a better light. But young Bert was obviously not altogether at ease with gas, being rather worried about a possible explosion. Anxiously, he asked the gas-fitter if the lighted gas would not go up the pipe again.

Bob Carden – He was born on 22 April 1938 at 3 George Street, the son of Ernest Walter and Kate Carden. He attended St Peter’s School, Portslade, from 1943 to 1945, and then moved to St Andrew’s School, Portslade, which at that time was located at Lock’s Hill. During 1947 the children moved to new surroundings at Benfield School. During the same year the Cardens moved to 11 Drove Gardens, but that address was later changed to 40 Valley Road.

Carden spent five years at the Brighton Secondary School for Building and Engineering in Hanover Terrace. Mr Tester was one of the masters, being an old Naval man, and it was on his instigation that Carden took up an apprenticeship at CVA Jigs, Moulds and Tools in Portland Road, Hove. Carden remained there for nearly twenty years, during which time the company changed its name and its direction several times.

Carden then went to work in New England House with a small engineering firm called Numerical Control Services, and operated a Newell NC jig borer. When the company expanded, it moved to the old Wilbury Film Studio in Cambridge Grove, Hove, and then after a couple of years to on to Mill Road, Fishersgate. There he became works supervisor.

The year 1983 was not a good one for Carden. In the winter, on the same day that the famous racehorse Shergar disappeared, Carden slipped on some ice and broke his leg with a spiral fracture. His leg was in plaster for six months, and at the same time the factory closed down, leaving him without a job.

Carden’s father had once been a Portslade councillor, and to take his son’s mind off things, he persuaded him to stand as a councillor. It was difficult canvassing with his bad leg. But in the event it was a close-run election, and Carden only lost by 70 votes. However, Carden did became a Portslade councillor in 1991 but unhappily his dad was not there to celebrate, having died in 1987, but Carden knows he would have been delighted. In 1997 Carden collected the highest number of Labour votes of any councillor in Hove and Portslade, while in 1999 he received the highest Labour votes in the whole of Brighton and Hove.

Meanwhile, Carden worked at Le Carbone as a mechanical inspector. He became a governor of Peter Gladwin School in Drove Road, he was a founder member of Mile Oak Football Club, and a former vice-chairman of ABBA (anti-Brighton Bypass Association). In November 2000 Chalky Road Residents Association chose the name Carden Court for a new block of flats. Carden became Mayor of Brighton & Hove in 2005/2006 – what would his father have thought of that?

In 2015 Carden retired and he was honoured for his long council service by being made an Alderman. He also achieved national fame when a short video he shot was shown on BBC Spring-watch. Carden has long been known as a badger enthusiast, and he managed to film a badger and a hedgehog tucking into a ‘moonlit dinner’ in his back garden. Even hardened nature-watchers had to admit they had never seen such a thing before.

The Demise of George Street's Residential Housing

copyright © G. Osborne
With thanks to Mr G. Osborne for granting permission for the reproduction and editing of the above photograph from his private collection -
'The North Street area of Portslade by Sea, circa 1930s'
. All these houses in this photograph, apart from Station Road and the south side of Wellington Road and three houses in North Street were demolished.

North Street was south Portslade’s premier shopping area in Victorian and Edwardian times, its decline started in the 1920s when more and more commercial businesses moved nearer to Portslade Railway Station and local bus routes in Station Road and Boundary Road.

The 1950s saw the Portslade Urban District Council through its use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (Housing Act 1949), started over the course of the next few years the mass demolition of the whole area bounded by St Andrew’s Road to the north, Station Road to the east, Wellington Road to the south and Church Road to the west.
The Victorian houses were eventually replaced by industrial units and small office blocks.

Urban District Council of Portslade-by-Sea - Report of the Medical
Officer of Health for the Year 1957, by N. E. Chadwick M.A., M.D., D.P.H.
From the early 1950s through to the 1970s the Council published
in their Medical Reports which houses were to be demolished

Albion Street is the only road within Portslade Council's Compulsory Purchase Orders area to escape the demolition of its original Victorian built houses.

copyright © D. Sharp
George Street, Portslade in 2023


Mr G. Osborne

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

Personal interviews

Portslade Roll of Honour

Portslade Urban District Council

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

UK Census

Copyright © J.Middleton 2023
page layout by D. Sharp