Staplefield Drive

A 1950s childhood in Moulsecoomb

By Ian Smith

 
Photo:90 Staplefield Drive

90 Staplefield Drive

Photo by Tony Mould

Football on the tennis courts

I lived at 90, Staplefield Drive from 1955 until I joined the army in 1970. I have since lived in Northern Ireland for almost 35 years after marrying there. My next door neighbours were the Drivers and I can recall the Clarke family a few doors up. I went to Moulsecoomb Primary and Junior schools. I can remember the headmistress Miss King, an aged lady with a King Charles spaniel and a delight in administering the strap to naughty children’s hands. I also remember Mr Gallagher was teacher of 4a and very popular because with him we got to play football on the tennis courts.

Lampost was our wicket

Can anyone remember playing softball every lunch time on the school field, or racing dinky toy racing cars on the playground? I can also recall cricket in the road at the top of the hill at Staplefield Drive, using the lampost as wicket, or having relay races around the block. We spent long summer nights in the cornfields at the back, building straw houses and raiding rivals with mock battles. I was one of the first to join the 67 Centre when it opened, coincidentally in 1967, where we played table tennis and snooker or on the pinball machine.

Hated my school cap

There were dances there in 1967/8 with local groups The Motion and The Shapes and Sizes as frequent players. I have a thousand memories of the estate. I went to Brighton and Hove Grammar at eleven and had to suffer the indignation of wearing the awful school cap in an estate where school caps were not that common. I had so many friends back then that I can recall; they were happy days.

Do you remember?

Do you remember Staplefield Drive? Did you go to the 67 Centre? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

This page was added on 30/10/2013.
Comments about this page

I remember Staplefield Drive as I lived in Moulsecoomb from 1957 to 1967. I lived in Colbourne Avenue with my parents and we moved into town in 1967 when I was 10 years old. I went to Moulsecoomb School right through from the Infants to the Seniors and I well remember Miss King the headmistress. I have to say though that when she gave me the strap in 1966 for playing truant she had progressed from the hand to the backside! I certainly didnt play truant again! My 4th year teacher that you mentioned, Mr Gallier, was a fabulous all-round teacher and very keen on sports. He ran the football team and got us playing softball although I was never keen as I liked football. Do you remember that he used to line us all up on the tennis courts by the 67 Centre in front of the wire fence and we had to stop the ball hitting the fence. He would have one of the boys line up the ball for him and he would kick it very hard at us. It wouldn't be allowed now for health and safety reasons because those footballs were very hard in those days and we all wore shorts so if one of those hit your bare thigh it would certainly ruin your afternoon! I heard that he is in his 90s now and lives with family in Australia. I remember the 67 Centre being built as I went to the cubs at the barn next to it. The only time I ever had to go there was for the medical I had before I went into the senior school. The nurses were fearsome ladies, similar to the old style matrons!

By Paul Clarkson (03/11/2013)

Good to read your comments, Paul. I don't believe we knew each other but we obviously shared a similar experience. I also attended the cubs in the old barn around 1963. We used to buy biscuits for a penny each. We once had a fancy dress and I went as an African native. My mother covered me in coffee and I spent most of the evening trying to get it off whilst everyone else played games. There was also bob a job week where we went out in full cubs uniform armed with a little card and did jobs for local people who signed our cards with whatever job we did and gave us a shilling or sometimes more. I am glad to hear Mr Gallier is still alive as he was a favourite teacher of mine when I was in 4a.  I also remember a bald headed teacher of 3a who introduced us to The Hobbit, wish I could remember his name. Softball lunchtime on the back field during the summer is a great memory. If you made a catch from a really big, high shot you were a hero, particularly if you made it look difficult by diving. I used to go to the youth club on Friday nights in the barn. It was full of 12 to 15 year olds all having sly smokes of players No. 6 and playing records or table tennis. I was 15 when the 67 centre opened. It was a big step up from the barn. Occasionally there would be all nighters at the weekend which were fun. I loved the dances in the late '60s there. One year we sent a team of rollerskaters down to the boys club in Edward Street where we did  24 hour relay skate on the roof. We all got medals after. There always seemed to be so much to do in those days. youngsters now just seem to sit around playing on phones. Bit sad really!

By Ian Smith (13/11/2013)

Thanks Ian, I like to reminisce about my days in Moulsecoomb. I liked Colbourne Avenue, we had some fabulous neighbours and it is true to say that back then we all looked out for each other. The teacher from 3a I believe was a Mr Holland, he was fabulous, when we played football up on the top field he would sometimes watch and when the goalie pumped the ball high up the pitch he used to shout 'UP AND UNDER'!! Other teachers I remember from the Juniors were Mr Quinn, Miss Gould, Miss Tiley (we had a respectful hatred of each other!) and Miss Bannister, quite a fearsome lady who was disabled and walked with the aid of walking sticks. I remember the cubs doing 'Bob a Job' week, it was always on the Easter school holiday and started on the Sunday. This was a day that my parents never let us stray from the house as they said the neighbours wanted some peace and quiet after working all week. I hated it at the time but I wouldn't mind those times back now!! Anyway, I strayed from the subject...when I eventually went round on Monday there were no jobs left as all the houses had those yellow stickers saying 'job done' from the day before! I enjoyed my time in the cubs but left when they announced we had to go camping, the thought of leaving my soft warm bed for a cold hard field was not something I wanted to experience, even at the age of 9! So I left. Did you ever do the coach trips to Heathrow airport and London Zoo? I did enjoy those days out, one year we went to Lord Baden Powells house in Kensington which was brilliant.

By Paul Clarkson (15/11/2013)

I grew up in Staplefield Dr, moved into number 68 when it was new, and my family still lives there, although I'm in Canada now. As the start of the 'baby boom' we had loads of kids playing football, british bulldog, cricket, 40/40 and any other games you can think of! Many bike races around the block, especially dangerous before they made it one way! I witnessed many an unwary racer disappear over the bank by the entrance to Selba Drive, no injuries that I can recall though.
There was great spirit of comradeship, I know of many a dark night climbing 'the stairs' from Hodshrove when a bunch would get together for protection!
I was also a founding member of the '67' club, being active in the physically handicapped club. Also the St. Andrews Youth Club, where 'The Timeflies' were popular.

By Steve Tugwell (02/12/2013)

Hi Steve. Were you definitely at No.68? I had a mate in the 60s called Colin Tugwell who lived in the corner house at the back which is No.64. I also knew the Wallers who I think were at 66 on the bottom corner.

By Ian Smith (08/12/2013)

Hi Ian, yes definately 68, and the Wallers were the other half of our house. I wasn't aware that there were Tugwells at number 64 until after I'd moved away, strangely enough!
Eric Wilkinson was a good friend of mine, he lived quite close to you, didn't he?

By Steve Tugwell (08/12/2013)

Yes Steve: Eric lived next door at 88. They moved away in the late 60s. I think he was older than me. 

By Ian smith (12/12/2013)

Hi Paul and Steve.  Eric Wilkinson lived next door at 88, his mum worked at the Brighton Hippodrome and used to get complimentary tickets to see the shows. A group called the Beatles came there in 1964 but sadly I never got those tickets but she did give me ones for Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas. I do remember those teachers' names, Paul. I was never allowed on the trips to Heathrow but when I was 11 we all went to Portsmouth to see HMS Victory. I remember us all clubbing in to buy 5 Woodbines, Being a non-smoker was very uncool then, even at 11. Glad to say I did kick the habit 40 years later though. I have posted a few reminiscences on the Moulsecoomb section but strangely nobody seems to remember me, despite the fact that I recognise so many names others mention. As my birthday is in August, i was one of the youngest in my class and actually did my 11 plus at 10 and a bit, in 1962, and left Moulsecoombe juniors in 1963. A boy called Richard Jackson from Medmerry Hill (I think) was miles ahead of everyone in the brain department and went to Brighton and Hove Grammar. I was the only other boy destined to go with him as a much weaker 2nd. Everyone else went to Westlane or Stanmer with a few odds and ends going to the Secondary Tech at Elm Grove, Moulsecoomb seniors or possibly Varndean. Regretfully that meant goodbye to the girls of 4a and 2 buses to Dyke Road which was well out of my comfort zone. The culture shock of stepping out of Moulsecoomb and into this world of the middle classes still haunts me today and having lived in the estate for the first 10 years of my life, it proved particularly difficult to feel accepted in my new environment. In some instances I didn't really care as everything and everyone I knew was in Moulsecoomb and the ways of West Hove, Withdean and Patcham were a complete mystery. I am still awaiting someone to come on this site or others and say "I remember you, Ian Smith" but despite all the clues I throw out, sadly the answer is still no-one.

By Ian Smith (12/12/2013)

I'm amongst those that don't remember you also:-) But the thing was that at that time there were so many kids that you could find enough friends without straying too far from home. On a previous post on a different page I confused you with another Smith who lived opposite me, sorry about that! You may also remember Ian Healey, he lived around No. 80 and went to Brighton and Hove Grammar.

By Steve Tugwell (13/12/2013)

Well I remember you Ian Smith - as I was in the NTC with your sister Janet and Denise Driver and a few others from Moulsecoomb. My family lived in Shortgate Road. 

By Irene Dobson (nee Budd) (29/05/2014)

Hi Irene Budd. I remember your name as a friend of Jan's. She married Dave Malyon who was also in the NTC (Fearless I think) in 1978. She still lives in Saltdean and has 3 grandchildren.
Hi Steve. Yes, Ian Healy and his brothers lived about 5 doors from us and all went to BH and Sussex Grammar. I have lived in Northern Ireland since 1976 but still get back there yearly but all my family have left Moulsecoomb a long time ago.
I have tried extensively to track down an old friend, Gary Walker, from Moulsecoomb Way. We worked on Southdown buses together and I believe he went to live in Crawley and drove coaches - but nobody seems to know of him.

By Ian Smith (24/06/2014)

I mentioned this article to my father who lived at 26. His name is Patrick Dowds, brother was Tom and mother was Eileen.  Do you remember him? He has a strong recollection of you and Colin Tugwell, and a few other people.

By Adam Dowds (27/02/2015)

I love reading all your stories and to see that my dad is mentioned (Keith Driver). Anyone remember him and his family?

By Cassie Driver (28/02/2015)

Hi Cassie, I should know Keith. We were next door neighbours at 90 and 92 Staplefield Drive for 15 years and went to primary school together. I last saw him when I called at his home in 1988. I have been back to Brighton many times since but can't remember where he lives. I often wonder what happened to Philip and Denise.

By Ian Smith (10/03/2015)

Hi Adam, I do recall the names but it is so long ago. I would appreciate if he can recall any times together then.

By Ian Smith (13/03/2015)

Hello Adam.  Yes, Patrick Dowds is my brother, so he has two sisters and another brother, not just that Tom.  Good times when I was young with my older brother Patrick. Later life we all grew apart but I am still very close to my sister, which is nice.

By Bridget (27/10/2016)

Hiya,

Thought folks may be interested in this event we're organising for the 50th birthday of the 67 Centre - feel free to like the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/67is50/

Thanks,

Adam

By Adam Muirhead (18/01/2017)

I used to live across at 137. I remember you all. My brother was Paul White and my mum was very friendly with your mother Ian. Your Mum's name was Joy. My mum is still going strong at 93 yrs old. Her name is Eileen White. I've been living in South Africa for the last 37 yrs. Mum only moved about five months ago from The Drive. Wow! brings back memories. We lived between the Warners and the Phillips. I knew your sister Janet too.

By Julie Hilton nee White (24/09/2017)

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