Islingword Road

Remnants of Edwardian poverty

By David Blundell

 
Photo:Islingword Road Mission

Islingword Road Mission

Photo by Paul Gillett:Wikimedia Commons

Desperate pockets of poverty

Islingword Road Mission was where I spent so much of my childhood and youth. Someone once asked me if I knew what the area was like in the Victorian and Edwardian era. The presence of the ‘Mission’ is certainly indicative of how it was seen by the Victorians who founded it. Even in the late 1960s and early 1970s, despite the youthful gentrifying effects of Brighton's higher education boom, the area had desperate pockets of poverty.

Survivors of Edwardian population

I recall that every year at Christmas the young men of the Mission used to prepare bags of firewood for distribution to the elderly. Many of the recipients were widowed and were the remnants of Hanover's Edwardian population. I recall as a teenager entering the home of one desperately poor bed-ridden old woman, who lived in a single room of a house just downhill from the junction with Southampton Street, whose situation was far from unique.

Does poverty have a smell?

Besides the obvious visual and material effects, poverty has a particular smell that I can recall now, and that sad woman's living conditions matched anything found in more obviously notorious areas such as London's East End. I seem to remember there was a family greengrocery business, with links across Brighton and a base in the wholesale market a the bottom of Southover Street? We used to go to the School Medical Service in a building adjacent to this.

This page was added on 06/07/2013.
Comments about this page

I lived in Southampton Street. we spent most of our Sunday here. We were baptised here. We went on picknics with everyone. My Sunday school teacher was one of the twin sisters Miss Rosa who was lovely, and Mr Store  was a lovely man. I went to Girls' Brigade here as well so have some fab memories and met some really lovely people.

By Susan Cattermole (31/01/2017)

I was married at the Islingword  Mission in 1972; the whole area was very different socially to the Hanover of 2017; my first wife's family basically all lived in Whichelo Place, my in-laws, two grandmas and various uncles and aunts; those not in Whichelo were in nearby streets. It felt like the old 'native' quarter of Brighton and I always thought that was how life in the Old Town or Lanes would have been before the 19th century. An estate agent friend described Hanover as 'scrubbed pine and green plant country' -  which is a polite way of saying 'gentrification'!

By Geoffrey Mead (02/02/2017)

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