Pool Valley

Photo:Pool Passage

Pool Passage

Photo by Paul Clarkson

Photo:Pool Passage

Pool Passage

Photo by Paul Clarkson

A very tight squeeze!!

By Paul Clarkson

Frequent bus users

As a small boy I lived with my family in Colbourne Avenue from 1960 to 1967. I was 10 years old when we left in 1967 to live in Islingword Street. We were frequent bus users when we went into Brighton, but as a small boy I always loved the journey that took us into Pool Valley as it meant the bus always had to go down Pool Passage. I used to marvel at the way the driver used to sweep out to the right to get the correct angle so the bus could get down into Pool Valley without touching the wall on either side.

Stressful experiences

Even as a small boy, I felt there was a considerable amount of stress involved. Usually I would go into town with my Mum or my Nan, but in order to achieve this brilliant experience there were a few hurdles to get over. Firstly we had to get the bus in Lewes Road by the Moulsecoomb School caretaker’s house. Going to The Avenue was no use as the 49, 49a, 110 or 111, did not go right into Pool Valley.

Could I go upstairs?

Whilst waiting in Lewes Road the stress would kick in again as the only bus of any use was a country bus, Maidstone and District, to be precise. A number 13 was no use at this point as it stopped short in the Old Steine. The next obstacle was whether whoever was taking me would let me go upstairs, as downstairs was never a good view for what I wanted to see.

Width of a fag paper

The next stressful part of all this was whether I could get into the front seat as that was the best view of all. It was always an amazing sight to see and I do not know to this day, how the bus used to get into Pool Valley without getting damaged as the gap between bus and building was so small. As my Dad used to say 'The gap was the width of a fag paper'.

Do you remember?

Do you remember the Pool Passage squeeze? Do you remember any other favourite bus journeys? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

This page was added on 16/02/2014.
Comments about this page

I do remember the Pool Valley squeeze. I haven't seen Pool Valley for about thirty years or so, how it has changed. The vehicles of today with their dressing table type mirrors would not have a chance of getting down into the pool without folding the mirrors in. I drove a school bus in the 70s for the Inner London Education Authority and they were 7 feet wide and then the mirrors. The buses were originally destined for the Egyptian army but the contract was cancelled. They were painted a light blue after that, the colours of I.L.E.A. They had double panel type mirrors which were not so bad. When I was in the military in the late 60s the mirrors on some of the military vehicles were atrocious no matter how wide the vehicle, compared to the vehicles of today. The only vehicles that I drove with decent mirrors were AFV 432s and Alvis Stalwarts. Bedford RLs had little 4" round mirrors which needed some concentration seeing where you were going and would freeze up at the drop of a hat. Driving today is so luxurious with really decent vehicles. 

By Mick Peirson (18/02/2014)

I drove a double-decker for Southdown for about three months over Christmas 1969/70. I drove the routes that included Eastbourne, Arundel, Worthing, Moulscoomb. I can honestly say that driving into Pool Valley was never a problem - the problem area (at least in the beginning) was backing into the stands - on once occasion the bus I was driving caught the steel structure and opened like a tin of sardines (even now I shudder with embarrassment). I really enjoyed my time with Southdown before emigrating to Australia as a ten pound Pom.

By Martin White (05/03/2014)

When I was a youngster the "country buses" that came in via Lewes Road were the Southdown 16, 20 and 25, and the 18, 119, 122 and 180 which were jointly worked with Maidstone and District.  In the early 60s the 13, which was my "local" route as I lived in Coldean, also terminated in Pool Valley.  Reversing the buses into the bays was certainly a skill - I can remember on one occasion a single-decker being reversed into the front corner of a double decker!  Some very fruity language resulted!

By John Wilkin (06/03/2014)

Growing up as I did in Hurstpierpoint in the 50s and early 60s, I spent many hours queueing for the Southdown routes that took us there, the 14 or 24, and what a cold and draughty place it could be, too! Bus travel was at its peak then, and the queues were long- so long, in fact, that quite regularly a 'relief' bus would be drafted in at short notice. I have a clear memory of having the strange sensation, when sitting on the top deck of a bus waiting to depart, that we were moving forward, whereas what was actually happening was that an adjacent vehicle was reversing into one of those tight parking bays. I too remember the very narrow entrance from the Steine- is it still there, I wonder?

By Ian Gates (02/05/2014)

Hi Ian, yes the narrow entrance is still there and in use. I took the pictures above last year. Pool Valley isn't as busy as it used to be but it's still as draughty. I used to love seeing all the buses lined up in the 60s, I also used to like seeing all the coaches lined up to the east of the Palace Pier and the boards telling you where they were going. Very often as a family we would go on the 'mystery tour'. Great times.

By Paul Clarkson (04/05/2014)

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