Madeira Drive

Childhood memories

By David Strong

Vibrant seaside town

I was born  on 14th July 1930 at 257 Preston Drove Brighton, the elder son of Leslie S Strong and Joan M Strong (nee Quick). At that time Brighton was a vibrant special seaside town. It was special because it was somewhat cosmopolitan and a mixture of wealth and poverty, but it was also graced as it is today by the aura of the Regency period. The town was throbbing with entertainment, a rich mixture of fading Edwardian and contrasting modern pleasures - much of it visual and therefore entirely free of cost.

Visits to the beach

Between 1930 and 1936 we lived in the eastern part of Brighton, and in close proximity to the Marine Parade. My very earliest memories are of being taken by my mother to Madeira Drive, so that I could watch the comings and goings of Volk’s Railway. From five onwards, when living at a flat at 52 St George's Road above a ham and beef shop, I recollect with great clarity going to the beach by way of the Kemp Town lift. The lift was operated by a man pulling ropes and was fascinating to a small child.

Photo:Madeira Terrace lift constructed in the 19th century

Madeira Terrace lift constructed in the 19th century

Photo by Tony Mould


A special ice cream parlour

Other memories are of the Hospital Carnivals, and also the motor racing on Madeira Drive. I can also recall the very particular smell of the Tamplin’s Brewery at Paston Place. I do have a special recollection of  Gizzi’s Ice Cream Parlour which was at the bottom of St James’s  Street and housed in premises decorated in an art deco style. 

This page was added on 26/07/2012.
Comments about this page

The son of the owner of Gizzies was at Clark's College just around the corner in Old Steine about 1947 during my time at the school but none of us ever got a free ice cream or milk shake.

By Ken Ross (27/07/2012)

I think I am correct in saying that the Madeira Terrace lift was originally operated by water. ie: The man pulling on the rope operated a valve which either emptied or filled a tank causing the lift to rise or descend working on a counterbalance system. I remember hearing the rushing of the water in and out. In later years I think it was converted to electric operation. We didn't use it very often as I seem to remember you had to pay the man (probably only a penny or so; 1d). When we were on the beach or at Peter Pan's we used to have to keep an eye on the clock there, now gone, to see when it was time to go home or run up to the cafe underneath for an Eldorado ice cream. You may also remember the Volk's Railway carriages stored underneath the arches during, and for a while after, the War until the beach defences were removed and services re-commenced.

By Tim Sargeant (27/07/2012)

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