06 December 2019

Beaconsfield Road, Portslade

Judy Middleton 2001 (revised 2021)

copyright © J.Middleton
Beaconsfield Road, Portslade.

Original Name

The original title was Holes Road – hardly the most delectable of names. It seems likely that the road was in fact named after James Holes who was born in Dover but by 1851 was living at Hove. He was a brick-maker but obviously he did not engage in manual labour himself, employing other men to do so. Thus he accumulated enough funds to be able to purchase in December 1858 two plots of land in George Street, Hove, for £550. The 1861 census recorded him, aged 40, living at 26 Hova Villas, with his wife, two daughters and their 12-year old son who had been born at Lewes.

   copyright ©  Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
1909 map showing Holes' Brick Works to the right of Victoria Recreation Park

Holes’ brick-field was situated west of Station Road, Portslade. In 1871 he was a member of Portslade Burial Board. In Portslade Cemetery there is a tombstone that was ‘erected by James Holes as a mark of respect to his niece’ who died on 15 April 1883 aged 54. She was the last surviving child of Thomas Hunt, quarter-master of HMS Arethusa, who was killed by the first shot fired at the bombardment of Sebastopol in October 1854: Hunt had served in the Royal Navy for 50 years. 
copyright © Trove Newspapers-The World News (Sydney)
HMS Arethusa was at the bombardment of Sabastopol in 1854.
(photographed 25 March 1916)

HMS Arethusa was a frigate of 50 tons, built in 1849 at Pembroke dockyard, Wales. From 1867 until 1929 she served as a training ship, firstly for the Admiralty, and then for a charity. The vessel went to the breaker’s yard in 1933 but the fantastic figurehead was preserved, and exists to this day, having recently received the accolade of a Grade II listed status. Arethusa was a Greek water nymph and the wooden figurehead was carved by James Hellyer & Sons. She has cascading copper-coloured hair, and her ample right breast (nipple too) is exposed to the elements. This image was supposed to calm a rough sea, but perhaps provoked a different emotion in the mariners who sailed in her.

It may be that this piece of family history led James Holes to take an interest in maritime matters – at any rate in 1876 he had some shares in the 58-ton schooner Mystery, along with John Baruch Blaker, market gardener, and Henry Field, Aldrington victualler. This vessel was sold to Gosport in 1884.

In 1880 when the new St Andrew’s School, Portslade, was being constructed, James Holes provided 20,000 bricks (worth around £25) free of charge – the bricks did not have far to travel. In 1882 James Holes leased some land at Hove to George T. Salter, dyer and bleacher. It is interesting to note that there was another brick-maker with the Holes surname locally – his name was Michael Holes, and he lived in The Drove (Station Road), - he was also born in Dover.

The name Holes Road was still current in 1897.

A New Name

copyright © D. Sharp
Beaconsfield Road looking south from the former Beulah Mission Hall with Victoria Recreation Park on the left

Perhaps the occupants did not like the name, and at some stage it was decided to change it. The choice was not random because, as the 1898 Directory shows, there were already some cottages called Beaconsfield Cottages/Terrace in Holes Road: these cottages are also marked on a plan of 1889, placing them on a corner site at the back of Southern Cross Evangelical Church. The first nine terrace houses in Holes Road were called Gladstone Terrace.

There was also a Beaconsfield Lodge. Some houses could possibly date back to 1865, while in 1895 plans were approved to build a new cottage.

It is likely the name of Beaconsfield was chosen in honour of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British novelist and statesman, who became the Earl of Beaconsfield in 1876 – the same year in which he arranged a new title for Queen Victoria – Empress of India.

copyright ©  Royal Pavilion & Museums
Brighton Herald 13 July 1916
Mr A Terry ran his transport business
 from the former Beulah Mission
Hall in 1915 (see below)
Although the new name was rather grand, the view for residents from their front windows was hardly pleasing because the ground was occupied by a brick-field and flint pits – the Victoria Recreation Ground did not come about until 1902. Some of the houses have foot-scrapers set into the wall next to the front door. These would have been very useful for scrapping off muddy boots before stepping inside.

Beaconsfield Lodge

In the 1881 census the following people were living in this house:

John Blaker, farmer, aged 39
His wife Jemima, aged 36, and their children
Ruth, 10
Thomas, 8
Emma, 6
Kate, 5
Hugh, 3
Alfred, one year
Rose, two months old
Two servants

Mission Hall

copyright © D. Sharp
On the right is the former Beulah Mission Hall. The house on the left until recent years, had a moulded plaster
name plate fixed to the wall above the front door, denoting the house name as - 'Beulah Cottage'. 
Mr Reuben Braden, the Hall's owner in 1904, lived in Beulah Cottage and was probably the Minister of the Nonconformist Mission Hall. 
(Etymology - Beulah relates to the land of Israel in the Book of Isaiah, in literary works Beulah is a mystical place between heaven and earth, Beulah can also be a feminine given name.)

In 1903 plans for a Mission Hall were approved by Portslade Council. The structure was situated near to the Old Shoreham Road, and next to a passage between the houses; on the other side of the passage were gardens attached to the back of houses fronting Old Shoreham Road that were demolished in the 1970s during extensive road-widening work.
copyright © D. Sharp
An ecclesiastical lancet window can still be seen at the 
rear of the former Mission Hall

George Miles of 60 Old Shoreham Road built the Mission Hall and it had a roof of corrugated iron. Reuben Braden owned the hall, which was situated next door to his property. The hall was later called the Beaulah Mission Hall, but after 1915 the name is no longer to be found in the Directories.

Complaints

The residents often grumbled about the cricketers playing in Victoria Recreation Ground. There were complaints made to Portslade Council going back to 1912 because it seems that sometimes a spectacular batsman whacked the ball to such effect that it broke a window. This problem was solved in recent times when Portslade Cricket Club moved to a new home ground in Benfield Valley.

  copyright © G. Osborne
An Edwardian photograph of Victoria Park.
 Portslade Cricket Club played matches in the north-west corner of the park opposite the Beulah Mission Hall.
The tall houses next to the Mission Hall in the Old Shoreham Road were demolished in the 1970s to widen the road.

In 1968 Portslade Council decided that two flats should be built over the sports pavilion. The residents objected, but the project went ahead.
 
Number 3 

In 1891 James William Wood was living at number 3 Gladstone Terrace in Holes Road (later renamed to number 3 Beaconsfield Road) he was a boarder at Mrs Sarah Sundell’s house along with his two Australian born sons, Bertram and Augustus. In the 1891 Census he gave his occupation at this Holes Road address as ‘Evangelist for the Army of the Lord’. There was a total of eight occupants in Mrs Sundell's small house which included a Harry Carpenter 'Reader in the Army of the Lord'.
In the late 1890s Wood was living at 35 Carlton Terrace, he was known as King Solomon to his followers. See Portslade's King Solomon page

The Fascinating Face at Number 3

copyright © S. Pettett
Henry & Fanny Pettett and their sons, 'a band of brothers in arms' 
above - Albert, top right - James, bottom right - George.


copyright © S. Pettett
The 'moustache man'
Passers-by have often wondered about the story of the plaster portrait of a bearded man that is to be seen above the door at number 3 Beaconsfield Road.

In October 2019 there came information that the Pettett family believed it was an accurate representation of old Henry Pettett who was a member of  Portslade Fire Brigade and the family lived in this house at the time of the First World War. You can judge the likeness for yourself by looking at the two photographs.

Sources

Brighton Herald 
Census returns
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Directories
Internet research on HMS Arethusa
Mr G. Osborne
Mr S. Pettett
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

copyright © D. Sharp
Beaconsfield Road looking north, the moulding of the 'bearded man' can be seen on the left above number 3

 Copyright © J.Middleton 2019
page layout by D.Sharp