26 August 2018

Belgrave Square, St James's Square & Clarendon Place, Portslade

Judy Middleton  2001 (revised 2023) 

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' 

Belgrave Square was located off 9 Wellington Road, Portslade. To confuse matters further, in the 1861 census mention was made of Belgrave Place situated in Portslade Old Village near the George Inn, but perhaps this was an error.

However, in the 1891 census relating to Belgrave Square, off Wellington Road, Henry Peters, Portslade-born market gardener, lived at number 3 with his wife Rosina (born at Shoreham) and their children Minnie, 14, George, 12 (both born in Portslade) Abraham 10, Charles, 8 and Ethel, 9 (all born in Lancing) plus another son who was born in Brighton. The Peters were a well-known Portslade family with several generations resident in the Portslade Old Village area.

Walter Burgess lived at number 6. He was a 39-year old blacksmith who was born in Lewes. He lived with his wife Alice aged 27 and their children Arthur, 3, and Emily aged two. It is interesting to note that John Burgess (1822-1914) and his son Hugh Burgess (1875-1956) ran the old Foredown Forge.

Boer War Veteran

In July 1901 Private Philip Pattenden, of the Army Medical Corps, returned to Portslade following service during the Boer War. He found that half of Portslade had turned out to greet him, forming a large procession with flags and banners. Portslade Brass Band led the way, followed by the Bonfire Boys with torches and banners, and the entire Portslade Fire Brigade under Captain E.J. Parker. There were many others including the Slate Club from the Windmill Inn. The procession escorted Private Pattenden to his home in Belgrave Square.

St James’s Square

The St James's Hotel was located at St James’s Square although the 1891 census gives the address as 1 Belgrave Terrace. St James’s Square was not far from Belgrave Square, being a small area off 19 Wellington Road.

Tom Gorringe, 33-year old cook, occupied the hotel in 1881 with his wife Emily, 35, one son and one daughter.

Steyning-born Michael Roberts was the publican in 1891 and he was aged 32. He lived with his wife Eliza, 36, and their children Michael 12, Frederick 4, Arthur, 3, Edward, 1, and two-month old George,

Southdown and East Grinstead Brewery owned the hotel from 1898 to 1899 when it was sold.

 copyright © G. Osborne
Belgrave Square with its shops in Wellington Road, to the left is St James's Square, to the right is the Halfway House on the corner of Station Road.
With thanks to Mr G. Osborne for granting permission for the reproduction the above photograph from his private collection

The 1909 Suffragette Rally in Clarendon Place

Clarendon Place was located on the north side of St James's Square at a junction with North Street.

Clarendon Place's layout, made it a natural amphitheatre for a rally, earlier in the year Helen Charlotte Elizabeth Ogston (1882-1973) gave speeches at the suffragette rallies at Hove Town Hall and Brighton's Dome.

On the 29 July 1909 a large Suffragette rally was held in Clarendon Place. Helen Ogston spoke to a large crowd of about 1000 people. (The population of Portslade in 1901 was 7,800)

Helen Ogston was the suffragette who a year earlier, became famous for interrupting David Lloyd George on 5 December 1908 at a meeting in the Royal Albert Hall. Whilst she was being evicted she was violently assulted by the stewarts and fought back using a dog whip. As a result of the demonstration, women were banned from attending future talks by Lloyd George.

Helen Ogston later commented on the incident, '
a man put the lighted end of his cigar on my wrist; another struck me in the chest. The stewards rushed into the box and knocked me down. I said I would walk out quietly, but I would not submit to their handling. They all struck at me. I could not endure it. I do not think we should submit to such violence. It is not a question of being thrown out; we are set upon and beaten.’

Helen Ogston was dubbed by the Brighton Herald  - 'a militant Amazon of dog whip fame'

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Argus 30 July 1909

The 1940s

Belgrave Square had its own little shops and surprisingly enough there were two general grocery stores one on either corner with Parrot’s store next door to the Halfway House pub in Station Road. At the back of the square were stables occupied by Mr Hamblin, the rag-and-bone man, and Mr Drew, coalman.

The square was demolished in the 1950s as part of a slum-clearance scheme. The original 'Belgrave Square' area was incorporated into the existing Clarendon Place in 1984.

Belgrave Training Centre

 copyright © D. Sharp
The former Belgrave Training Centre viewed from Wellington Road in August 2018

On 20 January 1966 Mr H.W. King, chairman of Sussex Industries, opened the Belgrave Training Centre, which had cost £60,000 to build. This establishment was named after Belgrave Square, although its official address was Clarendon Place. It kept the ‘Belgrave’ but was known variously as Belgrave Centre, Belgrave Adult Training Centre, and later as Belgrave Day Centre. Initially, it employed some 60 people with learning difficulties, and equipped trainees for employment in industry.

copyright © E. Young
Mr David Hetherington
David Hetherington was a local resident who benefited from his time at Belgrave Day Centre. He took part in some interesting courses including one on photography and was very pleased when he received a 2nd prize for his work under the Mid-Sussex Mencap Photographic Competition. He and other students took a great interest in gardening at the allotment, which had a practical result in that each of them were able to take a small bag of potatoes home; there was also a greenhouse in which to grow tomatoes.

Another fascinating course ‘Brighton & Hove Yesterday’ in 2003-2004 took the students on visits to local places of interest such as Hove Museum, Hove Street, George Street, Preston Manor, Brighton Museum, Rottingdean, and Brighton seafront with the Fishing Museum. On other occasions they would visit nearby Shoreham Harbour to look at the boats. Students also received certificates on completion of a course on yoga.

By 2018 Belgrave Centre was a sorry sight – boarded up and awaiting demolition. Brighton and Hove City Council has identified it as a site on which to build affordable housing.

 copyright © D. Sharp
The Clarendon Place entrance to the former Belgrave Training Centre in August 2018

One cannot help wondering whether the small houses in the original Belgrave Square could have been saved and renovated into affordable homes. After all, it is generally acknowledged that the enthusiasm for demolishing old properties in the 1960s was misguided. A perfect example lies in the Poets Corner area of Hove, but east of Sackville Road, where huge blocks of council flats are located. Most of the old houses the flats replaced were well built and perfectly capable of being modernised. The houses in streets that managed to survive, now command high prices.

It seems the initial proposal for the development of the site was to provide 45 units of housing. But unfortunately the magic term ‘affordable housing’ seems to lead councillors to lose sight of existing planning rules. For example,  a  building of up to six storeys would be acceptable, yet in new plans a seven-storey monster is envisaged on Belgrave Square. There is also the vital matter of ‘amenity space’ to be provided, which is tiny, and against council policy. This too is odd coming at a time when people are more aware of the need for green spaces, and in particular the planting of trees to help combat pollution. But perhaps the worst idea is the prospect of no less that 104 units of housing. Councillor Les Hamilton calls the proposals a ‘massive over-development’. (North Portslade Community News December 2019). 
Demolition of Belgrave Training Centre in February/March 2021 
 copyright © D. Sharp
April 2021
 copyright © D. Sharp
April 2021

See also Wellington Road for more details on St James's Square


Census returns
Middleton J, Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
copyright © J.Middleton 2018
page layout and aditional research by D. Sharp