29 March 2020

Foredown Road, Portslade

Judy Middleton 2002 (revised 2023) 

copyright © G. Osborne
  Foredown Road in the early 1900s, near the present day Hill Park School

Foredown Road continues the ancient track now known as Drove Road, and leads up onto the Downs. It is only in recent times that it has become a built-up area – for example, in the 1890s it was considered remote enough from human habitation to be a suitable place on which to build an isolation hospital, later known as Foredown Hospital. The oldest and most interesting building is Foredown Forge

 copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph dates from around 1973 and shows the old forge still in almost semi-rural surroundings because you can see the Downs in the background; today new housing obscures that view.

In around 1932 Portslade Council was looking for land that might be suitable for housing.
They thought they had found just what was needed – a site on the north side of Foredown Road comprising 20,060 acres of farmland, of which 4,153 acres were arable land, and the rest was pasture. (The land in question was marked on the map as enclosures 69, 70, 70A, 71 and 84). But it turned out that the land was owned by the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the Mother Superior of St Marye’s Convent had no intention of selling. There was also an 8.46-acre allotment site belonging to Brighton Corporation.

copyright © D. Sharp
Foredown Road continues from the ancient track now known as Drove Road in an east-north direction up onto the Downs, above is evidence of an ancient sunken road (or hollow-way) with steep banks on either side of the road.

By the 1950s it seems that Brighton Corporation owned more of the land, and in 1958 they requested planning permission to build two cottages for agricultural workers. In 1959 outline permission was given for residential development on the west and east side of Foredown Road.

copyright © D.Sharp
View from Foredown Road to Foredown Hill looking north to Mount Zion (beyond telegraph poles) and the South Downs National Park

Great Gale

At 3 a. m. on 17 October 1987 seven giant trees keeled over as a consequence of the Great Gale when so many trees were lost. The gale also badly damaged Downs Park School.


copyright © D. Sharp
The housing development on the site of the former Foredown Isolation Hospital in the distance is Foredown Tower

Major development took place in the 1990s with houses on the west side being built by Bovis Homes and Barratt’s, while east of Foredown Road and near Fox Way homes were built by Sutton Housing Trust.

copyright © D. Sharp
Housing development on the east and west of Foredown Road

Today Foredown Road has several road humps as part of extensive traffic-calming measures to protect school children.


copyright © D. Sharp
Village Close on the site of the former Hillcrest retirement home

Hillcrest was a home for people with mental health problems situated between Downs Park School and Hillside School. In October 1997 it was reported that Brighton & Hove Council were deliberating upon its future. The council had already decided to close two old people’s homes in Brighton but were undecided about what to do with Hillcrest. Then in January 1998 they took a decision to demolish it after all. Councillor Jean Spray, chair of the social services committee, said, ‘Upgrading Hillcrest would mean such a reduction in the number of people who could stay there that the home would no longer be viable.’

Hillcrest was demolished in the Spring of 1999, and Hillreed Homes then developed the site. There were eight three-bedroom houses, six three-bedroom terraced houses, two three-bedroom semi-detached houses, and a two-bedroom terraced house. For months a giant crane was part of the Foredown skyline. By January 2001 it was stated that the development would be called Village Close with prices ranging from £124,950 to £162,500.

Hill Park School - Lower Site (formerly Hillside School)

copyright © D. Sharp
Hill Park School - Lower Site (formerly Hillside School)

Hillside School was opened on 16 January 1964, catering for children with severe learning difficulties. By 1974 there were 70 pupils and Mrs McCulloch was the head. In June 1974 Mrs E. S. Dickson, chair of the school governors, officially opened the Neptune adventure playground at the school. The school PTA provided £800 towards the cost, while another £800 had been raised by stalwart police cadets Chris Goldsmith and Andy Turner who went on an 18-hour sponsored walk.

In 1985 Mrs Champagne Moy-Loader, Mayoress of Hove, donated £1,000 to the school from the Mayoress’s Charity Fund. By then Mrs Margaret Dale was head.

In October 1993 a plan to change the structure of two special schools caused uproar. Downs View, Woodingdean, and Hillside, both cared for and educated children with severe learning difficulties from the age of two to nineteen. Education bosses wanted to re-organise the schools into a junior school and a secondary school. Parents and governors at Hillside backed the proposals. But many parents at the £2million Downs View School, which had fewer profoundly handicapped children, rejected them. Downs View had 86 pupils, while Hillside had 72 pupils, and almost half of them had severe learning difficulties. More than 200 people signed a petition against the proposals. Stephen House, a Hillside governor, felt that the present system was holding children back. There were only four pupils in each of the groups for those aged seventeen, and he thought they would make more progress with more children of their own age.

In September 1995 Bob Wall, head of Hillside, stated they were unable to cope with the growing demand for places, and pupil intake was likely to double. East Sussex County Council planned to help matters by establishing units for some of the youngsters on other school sites.

copyright © D. Sharp
Hill Park School's two storey extension

In February 1996 woodcarvers at Hillcrest Centre, Newhaven, an adult education centre, presented Hillside School with a Noah’s Ark plus 25 pairs of animals to go with it. In May 1996 students from Bhasvic, together with help from Hillside pupils, produced a colourful mural measuring 7-ft by 4-ft.

In May 1996 rising numbers were still causing a problem – where there used to be eleven applications a year, now there were twenty-two.

In July 1996 Michael Evans, aged 18 and a student at Hillside, won a national competition to design a Christmas card. The National Council for Educational Technology organised the competition.

In March 1999 it was announced that a new medical room and improved staff facilities would be provided at a cost of £300,000.

In May 1999 Mr and Mrs Hilditch of Fairfield Gardens held a plant sale at their home to raise money for Hillside. They raised £550 on the day, but people kept calling afterwards, and so the final total was an incredible £700. The money was to be used to enhance the sensory garden. This garden was made in a space formerly occupied by a patio area, and it was finished in 2000. The designers were Zachary Lewis and Rob Demal, and it took them three months to create. Special features included water, wind chimes, and lavender bushes.

In November 1999 Hillside people objected to plans to build eighteen houses next door on the site of Hillcrest. But the Village Close development went ahead.
copyright © D. Sharp

On 28 November 2000 Timmy Barry, a 10-year old student at Hillside, drowned in the sea at Brighton, near the Marina, along with Janette Moss, his outreach worker. The tragedy prompted friends, students, parents, companies, and readers of the Argus to donate more then £10,000 to create a Timmy Barry playground and garden at Hillside. Another £3,000 came from the school budget, while the Government seed-challenge fund came up with £13,000. The work was expected to start in December 2001 with the completion date set as the Spring of 2002.

In September 2018, Hillside School merged with Downs Park School to form the new education establishment of Hill Park School.

Hill Park School - Upper Site (formerly Downs Park School)

copyright © D. Sharp
Hill Park School - Upper Site (formerly Downs Park School)

The school started in 1957 at Bishop Hannington Church Hall, and moved to Foredown Road in October 1961. It was known as Downs Special School, but in 1988 the name was changed to Downs Park School after the nearby new housing estate, and to avoid confusion with Downs Special School in Eastbourne, and Downs School in Brighton.

By 1974 there were 105 children on the books with ages ranging from five to sixteen. Miss Wyborn was the head. In 1980 Alan Minter, world middleweight boxing champion, presented a £6,500 minibus to the school on behalf of the Variety Club of Great Britain. Dr Colin Edgar-Jones, Mayor of Hove, was present at the occasion as was Enid Skipper, the head.

In 1982 the summer fete was opened by Brian Capron, the star of TV’s Grange Hill who played the part of Mr Hopwood, and lived in Colbourne Road, Hove.

In 1985 Mrs Champagne Moy-Loader, Mayoress of Hove, presented the school with £1,000 from the Mayoress’s Charity Fund.

The school was badly damaged during the great gale of 16 / 17 October 1987, and the children had to move to the Connaught Adult Education Centre in Hove while repairs were carried out. In fact they were to remain there for eleven months before they were able to return to Portslade. They found that the school had a new roof, ceilings, and floors, while two pre-fabricated structures had been re-built.

copyright © D. Sharp
Trees fallen in the 1987 Great Gale across Foredown Road and the entrance of Downs Park School

In January 1991 an arson attack damaged the toilet block. A milkman discovered the fire at 5 a.m. and raised the alarm. The fire started in the caretaker’s room and spread to the roof of the main building. But the school managed to re-open the next day after a cleaning-up operation. At the time there were 81 pupils at the school.

In February 1991 the school donated a patchwork blanket for African refugees to the manager of the Oxfam shop in Boundary Road. The children had knitted more than 100 squares to make the blanket.

copyright © D. Sharp
Hill Park School as viewed from the south-west

By 1998 Andrew Jedras was the head, and the school was the first special school in Brighton and Hove to receive an excellence award for its career advice service.

In January 2001 the school, described as a specialist centre for autistic children, received a glowing Ofsted report in which the leadership was described as exceptional and the management as very good. The school had three specialist facilities, and also managed two similar facilities attached to mainstream primary schools. Andrew Jedras, head, commented, ‘it recognises the contribution of the highly-skilled dedicated teachers and learning support assistants.’
copyright © D. Sharp

In 2013 there was a rumpus about some proposed changes, and there were two public meetings in less than seven days attended by concerned parents. The council wanted to move some children with severe learning difficulties from Patcham House School to Downs Park in order to make space for adult learners. But parents emphasised how important it was the children stayed in familiar surroundings they had become used to, and how moving to a new place would upset their delicate equilibrium. In the event, the proposals were dropped, and alternative accommodation was found for the adult learners.

In September 2018, Downs Park School merged with Hillside School to form the new education establishment of Hill Park School.

In April 2023 there came exciting news of play equipment with a difference at the school. The project was funded by a charity called Dreams Come True and enabled an under-used outside space to become a sensory playground accessible for the over 200 children who attend the school.

For example, the special basket swing enables a disabled child to enjoy the experience of swinging whereas a standard swing would be out of the question. Rachel Burstow, headteacher, was delighted that the charity had awarded the school funds for this purpose, and indeed it is the first such project to be completed by the charity in Sussex. Lisa King, CEO of Dreams Come True, was also happy at the outcome. She said that now the charity hopes to enhance the situation of the other special educational needs schools in Sussex – there are eight of them, of which seven are in East Sussex. (Argus 25/4/23)

Parker Court

copyright © A. Berry
This wonderful image of the old barn was depicted by an unknown artist after the Second World War. Parker Court was built on the site of the barn, which stood opposite where Highways is today

Mrs Field of North Road could remember when the site on which Parker Court was built was part of a farm, and cattle grazed there. Parker Court was built in the 1960s, being named after Harry Parker, who had served on Portslade UDC for 40 years. In August 1963 Mr Parker officially named the building that contained no less than 56 flats.

copyright © D. Sharp
Parker Court

By October 1995 a complete refurbishment had been carried out costing some £700,000. Central heating was installed, together with new windows and larger entrance porches.

Pierre Close  

copyright © D. Sharp
Pierre Close in Foredown Road is named after the founder of Emmaus - Father Henri-Antoine Grouès, better known as Abbé Pierre.
copyright © G. Osborne                                                                                                                 copyright © D.Sharp
Foredown Road and the former Portslade Manor garden wall in 1900 and in 2020 from the same viewing point


Mr A Berry
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Portslade Urban District Council

Thanks are due to Mr G. Osborne for allowing me to reproduce two of his Portslade photographs from his private collection

Copyright © J.Middleton 2020
page layout by D.Sharp