05 April 2024

Victoria Road, Portslade

Judy Middleton 2003 (revised 2024)

copyright © J.Middleton
Victoria Road looking east to the Carlton Terrace junction.


In 1867 when 1 Carlton Terrace was sold, the deeds contained a map with what we now know as Victoria Road, but was then called New Road. There was a pub in the corner called the Builders’ Arms (later on it was re-named with a more up-market title to the Victoria Hotel); the pub was followed by a cottage, and then there were nine small sections marked and bounded on the west by land owned by the Revd William Hall.

By the 1890s John Eardley Hall owned the land just mentioned. In May 1895 he despatched a letter to Portslade Parish Council stating that he intended to make a 30-ft public carriageway ‘across certain lands belonging to me and known as Aldrington Laine.’ The proposed road would lead east from the road running south from Southern Cross, near the Battle of Trafalgar pub, and terminate near the Victoria Hotel.

In August 1895 Portslade Council applied to the District Council, Steyning East, (under whose jurisdiction Portslade then was) to obtain all urban powers for the new road called Victoria Road.

copyright © J.Middleton
The Victoria Road junction with Trafalgar Road, the long white roofed building in the background is the Southdown Motor Services Central Works.

Auction Lots

In 1923 two lots of land were auctioned with relevance to Victoria Road.

Lot 16 measured 12 acres, 2 roods, and 18 poles, having a frontage to Victoria Road of around 739-ft, and a frontage to Old Shoreham Road of 1,077-ft.

Around 12 acres, 1 rood, and 30 poles were let to Portslade District Council as allotments at £59-7-10d a year. Around 20 rods were let to F. G. Gilham as a private garden.

Lot 17 was adjacent to Lot 16 on the east side and measured 8 acres, 3 roods, and 6 poles with a frontage to Victoria Road of 569-ft, and a frontage to the Old Shoreham Road of 502-ft.

Around one acre and 12 poles were let to George Stannard as a chicken farm at £5-1-6d a year. George Stannard was the son of the landlord of the Victoria Hotel and played cricket for Portslade Cricket Club from where he progressed from to play first-class cricket for Sussex County Cricket Club from 1914 until 1925.

Around 2 acres were let to R. H. Orme as a chicken farm at £10 a year. Around one rood and 34 poles were let to C. Young. Around 2 acres and 2 roods were let to H. F. Greenfield as a market garden at £12 a year, while the rest of the lot was let to him as a chicken farm at £5 a year.

copyright © J.Middleton
Victoria Road looking west from the Carlton Terrace junction.

Electric Lighting

On 30 July 1935 Portslade councillors decided the time had come to instal electric street lighting at Victoria Road.

Planning Uproar

In 1936 the decision by Portslade Urban District Council to sell land on the south side of Victoria Road caused a terrific uproar. The land had been purchased in 1903 as an extension to the existing Portslade Cemetery, but had lain dormant for a period of 32 years.

Portslade Ratepayers’ Association handed in a petition with 1,600 signatures protesting against the land sale; there were also some stormy council meetings in January and April, with much shouting from the public gallery. Mr Sundius Smith was particularly angry at the April meeting saying that they had never had the chance of discussing the matter properly, and it smacked of sharp practice. He left the chamber before the meeting ended, and said he would not be seeking re-election to the council.

The land sale went ahead anyhow, and G. Comber build 38 houses thereon. (See also Portslade Cemetery).

copyright © J.Middleton
New housing viewed from Portslade Cemetery


Kathleen Ford, who was born in 1914, remembered as a child gazing hungrily through the window of Bungard’s Cafe, watching the workmen lifting the lids of their crusty, pork pies, and pouring in brown sauce.

The Ford family’s home was in Victoria Road near the railway yard where cattle and pigs were kept overnight before being taken to slaughter. They made a tremendous noise with their bellowing and squealing. Kathleen was upset by the heart-rending sounds, and her poor parents did their best to alleviate her misery by telling her there was no need to worry because the noise was coming from the Gas Works.

Every Saturday evening a street musician used to play his cornet under the gas lamp by the old signal box.

The children used to watch the horse and cart from Broomfield’s farm on its way to the market at Brighton. There would always be a trace horse to give extra pulling power up the slope, but when the Victoria Hotel was reached, the trace horse was removed, and taken home.

Recent Times

The following photographs display the variety of businesses to be found in Victoria Road.

copyright © J.Middleton
An unusual-looking building for Lancing Marine (Engineers)

Appleyard – In 1988 the Appleyard Group purchased the land once occupied by the Southdown Motor Services Garage, part of which they leased back to Southdown Engineering. Appleyard opened its new show-room displaying Honda and Volkswagen cars in October 1992; it was built on the site of the old storage building. Appleyard also displayed some cars in the open air in an area once known as the Paddock. In December 1992 Appleyard opened its new service department with the most up-to-date equipment at the rear of the showroom.

By August 1999 the area was a building site with Appleyard’s show-room and hard-standing gone together with the old Southdown garage – the only part belonging to the latter were the small rounded pillars and suspended chains that stood outside the building. Bulldozers were busy clearing the site. There was a large notice board under the banner of Appleyard Honda, which stated that the new development would be spread over six months, and the brand new show-room for Honda and Volkswagen would be ready in October 1998.

copyright © J.Middleton
Caffyns Volkswagen

Bubble Cars
– It was in the 1950s that an Italian engineer by the name of Preti designed the Isetta, popularly known as the Bubble Car. The Isetta was first put on display at the Turin Motor Show in 1953. Isettas were produced under licence in various places including Brighton where the first one came off the line in 1957. In 1961 production moved to Victoria Road where they continued to be produced until 1964.

copyright © J.Middleton
BMW in 2024

Endeavour of Hove – On 19 August 1999 Councillor Margaret Adams, Mayor of Hove, officially opened the firm’s £2.5 million development at Victoria Road, Present at the occasion was were Mike Williamson, chief executive of the Appleyard Group, Roger Humm, managing director of Ford of Britain, and Alan Furze, managing director of Endeavour of Hove. As well as the showroom, the complex had a parts and service area, and an accident repair workshop, said to be the largest in the area.

copyright © D. Sharp
The Dinnages Ford Dealership in March 2024

Hosiden Besson
– The firm made electronic devices such as payphone handsets, and car phone accessories. In November 1998 it was stated that the firm was axing 32 jobs. Hosiden Besson had three sites – two in Portslade, and one in Hove. Two months previously thirty-one full-time shop-floor and administrative workers were made redundant at Portslade.

On Tuesday night 3 September 2002 there was a spectacular fire at the factory, and sixty fire-fighters attended the scene. The flames were very intense, and there were also exploding gas cylinders. Counsellor Steve Collier reported a purple glow around the fire. Afterwards, there was an asbestos scare, and people were warned not to touch the copious amounts of grey dust deposited by the fire. Later on, a substantial section of the factory was demolished. In 2003 it was stated that a new two-storey industrial unit would be built on the site, which would provide jobs for twenty people.

KPS Ltd – In 1999 this business was being run by Pat Kelly; his garage serviced and repaired trucks. By August 1999 Mr Kelly was becoming very fed up because the council had closed the road between Links Road and Trafalgar Road so that a new gas pipe-line could be laid, and the closure would last six weeks. Mr Kelly reckoned that he was losing £100 a day in trade because the entrance to his yard was blocked off. To express his disgust, he parked his van across the site entrance used by the gas pipe-line workers.

Lucas Services In May 1991 it was stated that the firm had moved to Victoria Road Trading Estate from its old site in Old Shoreham Road, Hove, where it had been situated since 1932. It was amongst the country’s leading fuel injection and auto-electrical specialists.

MBM Technology – Although the firm has not been based in Victoria Road all this time MBM Technology has been resident in Portslade since 1946. They took over the old Fryco premises. It is a specialist firm working in precision engineering. In late 1984 the firm was awarded a £2.5 million contract to build weapon carriers for the RAF Tornado strike aircraft. Tim Sainsbury MP had lobbied the Ministry of Defence, and the then Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Sir Adam Butler, to secure the contract. Other contracts followed worth a total of £10 million, and which also created some thirty-five new jobs.

copyright © G. Osborne
The old Fryco building was taken over by MB Metals Ltd.

In November 1986 Tim Sainsbury officially opened MBM’s £1.25 million hi-tech engineering unit, which would be used to fulfil the Tornado orders. Brian Hopwood, director, said the contracts would provide work until the early 1990s, and the company had won the contract from Messerschmitt, the German company, and previous holders.

In December 1985 MBM admitted three offences of discharging trade effluent into a public sewer with more than the permitted levels of copper and toxic chemicals. The company was fined £500 on each count. The problem had arisen in the department where electrical circuits were etched and cleansed.

By April 1992 MBM was employing 220 people, and when Tim Sainsbury came to visit, Malcolm Bennett, chief inspector at the firm, explained details of their work.

In November 1994 Tim Sainsbury paid another visit after he had helped to secure a £20 million contract for the Ministry of Defence’s Paveway III low-level laser-guided weapons programme. Robert McIlwraith, managing director, said it was the largest contract ever won by it, or any company within its British-based Morgan Crucible parent company. The contract would last three of four years, and the workforce would be increased to 250 people.

In February 1998 it was announced that MBM had purchased Lago Systems that manufactures data storage devices and specialises in the design and production of shock-proof computer technology. Lago had a turnover of £500,000, and its latest production was a portable computer that could withstand tough military situations. Robert Mullins, Lago managing director, had been appointed technical director of MBM, whose parent company was now said to be Emblem.


copyright © J.Middleton

In January 2023 it was stated that Lookers Plc owned the dealerships currently on the site covering 3,250 square metres, and had plans for expansion that would be presented to Brighton & Hove City Council later in the year. If passed, the two-storey structure would replace the existing Mercedes-Benz and Smart dealers. The project was described as a next-generation luxury car dealership. At present some 95 people were employed there, and if the plans were to be passed, the staff numbers could rise to 115.

It seems the emphasis would be on a low-carbon future with electric cars, and there would be no less than seventeen electric vehicle charging bays. It is somewhat ironic that the news comes just when there is a hiccup in the popularity of electric cars because of the scarcity of charging points entailing long queues at times, not to mention how slow the process is when compared with the speed of a petrol intake.

copyright © J.Middleton
Some popular shops by the Southdown Avenue junction

New Moon – This place was a Chinese takeaway that had been in business on the site for fourteen years when in November 1990 the owner was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £500 for having a dirty kitchen.

Rivervale – Their site covers three acres. The car showrooms were designed by Wells Thorpe & Suppel, and in April 1991 won the Hove Civic Society and Hove Council Design Award for the best new building alongside the Williamson Cottage Homes in Portland Road, Hove.

In April 1999 there was a special Mercedes weekend. Jeff Nailard, sales director, said it was a great success. It was a joint effort between Rivervale and Rossetts of Eastbourne, and they gathered together one hundred vehicles worth more than £5 million.

In August 1999 there was a freak downpour of rain on a Sunday that caused £50,000 worth of damage at Rivervale. The rain managed to seep through the roof causing hundreds of roof tiles to collapse. Paul Wagner, manager, said that no cars were damaged.

In July 2000 Malcolm Hance, director of Rivervale Mercedes, was not at all pleased to discover that 260 squares of new grass laid as part of a landscaping operation on the bank had been stolen; this was despite CCTV cameras, and an all-night security team. To add insult to injury, a gang of giggling girls then stole a sign with the words Are you a Grass? Reward for information.

Shree Swaminarayan Temple

This is the first Hindu temple to be found south of London and is a focus for the local Hindu community. Before this temple was opened followers of the religion – known as devotees – had to hold monthly meetings in a hired church hall in Kemp Town, or visit the magnificent, white marble temple at Streatham, south London.

copyright © J.Middleton
The Hindu Temple

The Portslade premises were once occupied by a radio shop with its entrance on the corner of Victoria Road and Trafalgar Road, and a small shop selling china ware was next door. Then the Southern Cross Social Club took over the building.

copyright © G. Osborne
An Edwardian view of the shop that in later years became the
Shree Swaminarayan Temple,
Mr Coustick's bakery on the right, became the premises of the Victoria Engineering Company in 1925.

In the late 1990s the Hindu community purchased the building for £150,000 and then spent some £50,000 on converting it for their use. The inside was stripped, the windows facing Trafalgar Road were blocked up, and so was the entrance on the corner. The new entrance is in Victoria Road, and it is surrounded by intricate carvings – the work of devotees from Sussex. In the final preparations before the blessing took place, the activity was feverish, and two large marquees were erected in Victoria Recreation Ground to accommodate visiting families.

The blessing took place on 18 September 1999. The proceedings started with a colourful procession that started off from Hove Street South. It went along Kingsway, up Westbourne Villas, along Portland Road to Olive Road, then along Hallyburton Road to Victoria Road. The procession was scheduled to start off at 2.p.m. but it was a little later than that, there was also a strong police presence.

An old blue van headed the procession, then came around sixteen young male musicians flourishing small cymbals looped to a stick called a lasiam, followed by drummers, and those playing woodwind instruments. Two floats were the high point of the procession; one containing His Holiness Acharya Maharajshri sitting on an elevated sofa-like structure covered with a colourful drape. He wore a red turban and white clothes. Beside him a barefooted attendant wearing an orange turban held aloft a huge red and gold umbrella. Below him on the float were five men wearing orange robes – the symbol and status of living saints. The float was decorated with loops of marigold garlands.

The second float carried a carved, painted representation of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, especially imported from India, which when blessed, becomes a deeply venerated religious object. Below the main portrait, there were two other works of art destined for the temple.

Loud recorded music and repetitive singing accompanied the procession. Lastly, came a column of female devotees wearing beautiful saris of pink, green, purple, and yellow, some sporting tiny mirrors. The female stewards wore a uniform sari of light orange and grey.

Unfortunately, there was a fierce wind and spots of rain; the saris whipped and billowed, and some of the many small pennants were blown off their staffs. Two ancient red London buses brought up the rear; they were filled with older folk. There was also a car carrying the Indian High Commissioner.

One of the pennants used in the opening procession

Small, incense-like clouds kept appearing above the participants – the clouds were fine powder coloured white or pink, which young devotees were throwing at one another, similar to the tradition evident at the festival of Holi. Car drivers in New Church Road were less enchanted by the slow-moving procession, and leant on their horns.

By the 25 September 1999 a polished brass finial, known as a kalash had been placed on top of the new temple. There was also a triangular flag, which was a white one at first, and then a red one.

On 8 November 1999 the festival of Diwali was celebrated for the first time. The temple was an extravagance of colour and textures with hundreds of lit candles, and around 600 separate food offerings. There were fire crackers, and the art of rangoli was carried out; the latter is the decoration of steps leading to a house.

Universal Models – This business was opened at the end of September 1991 in premises previously occupied by Harry Brook Models and Hobbies. Chris Haulkham took early retirement, and opened the shop with his wife Julia. The stock included radio-controlled model aircraft, cars, helicopters, and boats besides offering a world-wide mail order service. However, the business was not long-lived, and by September 1995 Harry Brook had converted the premises into housing with the assistance of a government scheme managed by Sanctuary Housing Association. Brook was granted £11,000 to renovate three houses, which would be managed by Sanctuary, and a homeless couple with four children moved in.

Westhove Nissan – The business was established in January 1991. It was stated that although the firm was a new name to the Brighton area, the fact that there was a Nissan franchise in Victoria Road was not new because some ten years previously Prestwich operated their Datsun products from the same site. Nissan proved to be such a success that the premises were enlarged by the end of 1994. There was enough space to display sixty used cars, and the firm offered the whole range of new Nissans. It was voted number one dealer for customer care by Nissan for the South East area.


See also under separate headings:


Portslade Cattle Arch

PortsladeTown Hall


SouthdownMotor Services Garage

Victoria Hotel

Victoria Recreation Ground

Portslade Planning Approvals

1897 – Burtenshaw & Saville, office and stable

1902 – Ronuk Factory

   1906 – additions

   1913 – extension / new offices / caretaker’s cottage /factory buildings /

   1920 – canteen

   1922 – new offices

   1924 – garages 

   1927 – Welfare Institute

   1936 – buildings and boiler house / Newington & Pepper depot building

1908 – Gigins Ltd, new store

1915 – BP, office and petrol store

1922 – Russell Brothers, petrol pit

1926 – Portslade goods yard, stores

1927 – Mr Russell, garage with flat above

1927 – Southdown Motor Services Garage

  1928 – additions

  1930 – extension for workshops covered space for workshops

  1931 – revised frontage line

  1946 – rifle range

  1951 – extension

  1955 – cleaning shed, alteration to forecourt walls

1928 – Fry & Co Mineral Water Factory

  1933 – additions

  1935 – brick chimney

  1948 – syrup room

1928 – H. Baker, four shops, two houses

1932 – drainage, sub-station, cattle dock

1933 – Pepper & Sons showrooms

1933 – Danish Bacon Co, warehouse, bacon drying factory

1936 – G. Comber 38 houses, numbers 56-130

1938 – G. W. Simms, motor showroom, and three flats

1948 - Rose Polish, store

1959 – Amended plan, 21 flats, 12 garages, junction with Links Road

copyright © J.Middleton
A recent addition to the landscape – a charging point for electric cars



Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

Portslade Minute Books

Property Deeds

Mr G. Osborne

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Copyright © J.Middleton 2024

Page layout & design by D. Sharp