01 February 2024

The Victoria, Victoria Road, Portslade

Judy Middleton & D. Sharp 2003 (revised 2024)

copyright © D. Sharp
The Victoria in January 2024

Early Days

The premises date back to the 1860s and built at a cost of £750,  but it had another name in the early days, and was known as the Builders’ Arms. However, by 1874 it was renamed The Victoria Hotel.

The ‘Builders’ Arms’ was quite an appropriate name, as a few minutes walk from this public house were the brick-fields, where thousands of bricks were manufactured for the massive Victorian housing boom of south Portslade. In 1902 these brick-fields were converted into a public park and became the Victoria Recreation Ground,

Landlords of the Builders’ Arms

John Lennox Butcher (b.1824) lived at the Builder’s Arms from 1866 until 1874, along with his wife, and his six children, two of which were born in Portslade. The London Gazette reported, 'John Lennox Butcher, of No. 48 Surrey Street, Brighton, Builder and Decorator, lately also carrying on a business as a Beer-Shop Keeper at the Builders’ Arms, Portslade Station, Portslade, both in Sussex, having been adjudged bankrupt under a Petition for adjudication of Bankruptcy, in London on 26 November 1866'. He was ordered to surrender himself to the said Court in London on the 18 December. It is not known which of his business interests was the cause of his bankruptcy. On the 25 January 1867, for a third time, John Butcher presented himself to the Court of Bankruptcy in London, and obviously paid off his creditors, as his application to be discharged from bankruptcy was accepted by the Court.

On 29 August 1867 John Butcher applied to Hove Borough Council for a Licence to sell alcohol at the Builders’ Arms, which was opposed by the Railway Inn on the opposite side of the Portslade Railway Station's level crossing, but with the support of the Revd F. Holbrooke, the Vicar of Portslade, the Magistrate granted Butcher a Licence.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Gazette 29 August 1867
Mr Holtham was a well known Brighton Solicitor

In 1874 John Butcher left the Builders’ Arms for the prestigious position as landlord of the Royal Yacht Hotel in Sussex Street in Brighton.

Rufus Steele

He became landlord in 1875. He must have found the noise a strain, especially since he had been born in the rural surroundings of Edburton in 1814. Also living at the Victoria Hotel, was his wife Ellen (b.1825) and his son Frederick Steele (b.1861) a carpenter. There were two female servants living in the hotel in 1881, both rejoicing in the Christian name of Annie. The Steeles must have summoned they by surname, otherwise there would have been confusion, Annie Lashmar was only aged 15, while Annie Filtery was aged 20, the same age as the son of the house.

There was a name changed for the pub in the 1870s, from the
Builders’ Arms to The Victoria Hotel, this was probably in 1876 when by Act of Parliament, Queen Victoria was proclaimed the Empress of India.

On the 8th April 1884 John Dudney, the younger, and William Dudney sold The Victoria Hotel, the Stag’s Head, Portslade, plus another pub in Broadwater, Worthing, and a property in Hove for £6,700 to Walter and Henry Mews, brewers. In another transaction of the same date Portslade Brewery also changed hands.

In 1890 Rufus Steele had moved away from Portslade, and ran a beer house in Shoreham. Perhaps it was a quieter life for him because he was getting on in age.

copyright © D. Sharp
The Victoria in January 2024

Landlords of The Victoria Hotel

John Novis

He became landlord in 1890. John Novis was born in 1852 in Brighton. It is a fascinating footnote that beforehand Novis had earned his living as a carpenter. The Novis family lived formerly in Cowper Street, Hove, and his wife Esther had been born in 1856. The couple had three children – Ellen born 1879, John born 1882, Rosa born 1890.

His tenancy must have been the shortest one on record because he was gone the following year. It cannot have been the noisy trains that bothered him because his next chosen abode was right next door to Shoreham Railway Station and was called the Crab Tree Inn.

copyright © G. Osborne
Looking north across the Portslade Railway Level Crossing to the Victoria Hotel in the days when George Stannard was the Landlord (on the left is the Railway Hotel and on the right is the Portslade Railway Station)

George Stannard

He was landlord of The Victoria Hotel from 1889. Although he was only aged 25, he was already a licensed victualler. He did not have far to move from his former place of work, which was, strangely enough, the Railway Hotel in Station Road, on the south side of the railway tracks. One can imagine him trundling his wordly goods across the level crossing. Unlike some previous occupants, George Stannard stayed for the long haul, and was still landlord of The Victoria Hotel in 1920.

You could say that the pub trade was in his genes because George Stannard, senior’s brother James was landlord of the Stag’s Head in Portslade Old Village from 1889 to 1899. James lived with his brother, George senior in the early 1890s before taking over the Cricketers Arms by Southwick Green where he stayed until the 1920s. Coincidently, Southwick Green was once the home ground of the old Portslade & Southwick Cricket Club before the two villages went their separate ways with their own cricket teams in the mid 1890s.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Argus 31 October 1903

George Stannard senior, the landlord, was born in 1866 in Suffolk, but of course by the time of the 1901 census he was living in The
Victoria Hotel with his wife Sarah Jane who was born in the same year as her husband but in Brighton. The couple had four children – James aged 11, Maria (later known as Cissie) aged 9, George Arthur aged 8, and William aged 2. By the time of the next census in 1911 there had been a further addition to the family – Annie aged 9, and all the children were Portslade-born including George Arthur Stannard who became a famous cricketer (see below). By this time Cissie was working as a bar-maid.
George Stannard senior, along with his sons, James and George (Arthur) all played for Portslade Cricket Club.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Graphic 1 June 1916
James Stannard the Nurseryman and Portslade cricketer, seated on the far right, the brother of  George Arthur Stannard, the Sussex County cricketer.

George senior’s eldest son, James became a nurseryman and ran his own business ‘James Stannard & Co’ in Trafalgar Road, Portslade from about 1910 until the late 1920s, his business was situated between numbers 111 & 123 in Trafalgar Road.
James like his more famous younger brother, George Arthur, also played cricket for the Portslade Cricket Club and was a member of the Portslade Rifle Club who shot on the Mile Oak Rifle Range in the Brighton & Hove Rifle Club League.

George Arthur Stannard, cricketer

copyright © N. Sharp
Sussex County Cricketer - George Arthur Stannard

He was born at the Victoria Hotel Portslade on 9 July 1892. It is pleasant to record that his talent as a cricketer was recognised at the age of seventeen. There he was quietly enjoying a game of cricket for the local team, Portslade Cricket Club, when a scout from the Sussex County Cricket Club laid eyes on him. Soon he was elevated to membership of the county club’s Nursery Cricket Team. Although no doubt delighted about his circumstances, he cannot have enjoyed stepping out under the banner of ‘nursery’. But that is how it was.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Herald 24 July 1912 & 21 August 1912
In the Littlehampton game, George Stannard took 3 wickets, which was eclipsed by fellow Sussex Nursery player Maurice Tate, who took 6 wickets. Maurice Tate went on to play 39 Test Matches for England.
In the Chichester game George Stannard played a starring roll, in scoring 25 runs and taking 4 wickets for 4 runs in 4.4 overs.

It should be noted that many professional cricketers of the time were of a different class, and therefore money was not an issue for them. But for G. A. Stannard, it certainly was. Cricketers did not earn a handsome wage as they do today – they only received money from the matches in which they played. It is telling that Stannard’s occupation was given as ‘Poultry Keeper’ in the 1911 census, which no doubt helped to keep the wolf from the door.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Argus cuttings from 13 July, 14 July & 15 July 1914
George A. Stannard first game for Sussex County Cricket Club was at Hastings in July 1914.
George scored a total of 34 runs and took 1 wicket for 10 runs in 5 overs. Sussex won by 364 runs.
One of the Sussex players listed in this match, was George Street, who 10 years later in 1924, sadly died in a road traffic accident at the Southern Cross junction while riding his motorcycle.

Stannard played first-class cricket for Sussex County Cricket Club from 1914 to 1925, and participated in no less than 73 matches, scoring 1,447 runs with a top score of 114, he took 15 catches and 14 wickets with a best performance of 4 for 70 runs. George Arthur Stannard died at Brighton on 28 June 1971.


The Mews Brothers of Portslade Brewery, were good employers, and they were also aware of the distress caused when the wage-earner met hard times. Their solution was to set up a registered charity under the Friendly Society Act in the 1890s. It was called the Victoria Philanthropic Society, and naturally the headquarters were in the Victoria Hotel. The society was wound up on 3 June 1907.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Argus 14 August 1905
The Victoria Philanthropic Society tried to book Victoria Recreation Ground for this event, unfortunately it was the annual sports day of the Portslade Fire Brigade and the Portslade Urban District Council would not allow two events in the park on the same day. Mr Hardwick of Hangleton Manor saved the day for the Society. 


On 6 September 1898 Portslade Football Club held a meeting at the pub to elect officers for the coming season.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Argus 9 September 1899
George Stannard senior, was the Treasurer of Portslade Football Club, one of the Club's Vice Presidents was Herbert De Kantzow, a Portslade Club cricket player and the son of the Swedish Poet - Baron Alfred De Kantzow who lived a few doors away from the Victoria Hotel in Carlton Terrace.


copyright © G. Osborne
The Victoria Hotel in the 1930s

Alterations were carried out at the pub in 1906, 1924 and 1927, while in 1928 a new cellar was created.

By 1930 Harry Harvey was the landlord; by 1940 R. W. Meadows was running the pub, while by 1954 it was William R. Meadows who was in charge.

The Plaque

Having been informed that an interesting plaque was to be found in the pub, a site visit was made in May 1998. This historic wooden plaque was then in a somewhat uninspiring place – namely the men’s loo. It used to have pride of place on the pub’s wall but then woodworm was discovered; treatment was administered, and the plaque was thus relegated.

The story goes that the plaque was salvaged by a building worker when restoration work was being carried out at Wiston House, near Steyning in West Sussex. The plaque measured approximately 20-in x 12-in and carried the following inscription.

In this room the VIIIth Corps composed of the Guards Armoured Division, the VIth Armoured Division and XVth Scottish Division planned their invasion of Europe on June 6th 1944 under Lieutenant General Sir Richard O’Connor KCB DSO MC. Non Nobis Domine (Psalm 115)

Pub Interior

In May 1988 it was also noted that the pub had some attractive small round tables with tops of beaten copper on a cast-iron base.

There were photographs of celebrities on the wall including two large ones of champion boxer Chris Eubank; a small mirror was embellished with a seagull for Brighton & Hove Albion FC.

copyright © D. Sharp
The Victoria in January 2024

Pub Sign

The sign used to be a dignified portrait of Queen Victoria in her later years. The artist had not quite got the face right but of course the image was instantly recognisable.

In 2003 the pub was renovated, and the new sign was a most uninspiring giant ‘V’ on a black ground, in 2015 the pub was given a £104.000 facelift and the ‘V’ was replaced by a traditional image of Queen Victoria.

copyright © The Victoria Portslade
January 2024

Census Returns

Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

Mr G. Osborne

Portslade Council Minute Books

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Street Directories

Website:- The Victoria Portslade

Copyright © J.Middleton 2023

Page layout by D. Sharp