Eastern Road

A not untypical case of misplaced planning

By Martin Nimmo

If you'd had a competition for the worst road in the City forty years ago, I've little doubt that Eastern Road would have come well up the list! In fact, it's pretty awful still today. Road widening from Edward Street/Rock Gardens to College Place took place in tedious stages over about two years. Comfortable houses and a few fairly elegant buildings, such as St Anne's Church and Brighton College Junior School, were demolished to provide a dual carriageway that just ends in the chaos of a two-way road as before, up near the Sussex County Hospital!  A not untypical case of misplaced planning which has simply moved the problem further east and has produced a road lined with non-descript blocks of flats.

Sent to website by email 27th January 2003
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
Martin mentioned the widening of Edward Street/Eastern Road spreading over two years or so. The first stage was done in 1962/3. I worked in the Borough Surveyor's Department then. Work stopped for about 6 weeks due to the cold and snow (the worst winter on record). Other problems were: the Dog Tray pub, that projected beyond everything else and forced us to make a very narrow footpath beside it; the Southdown Bus Garage exit, that made us change the camber on the road so the buses didn't scrape their overhangs as the wheels dropped into the gutters; one of the side roads to the east of the Law Courts slipping and fracturing a gas main; and finally, one of our workers managing to put a pickaxe through the main elecricity feed twice. A third time it was cut by a JCB. My son drove me to Brighton in December 2002 so he could get some running shoes. We parked by the Law Courts and walked across Edward Street - the first time I had revisited since I left Brighton in 1963. A strange feeling indeed, 40 years on.
By Dave Bennett (11/02/2003)
It was actually All Souls that was demolished in Eastern Road. St. Anne's stood in Burlington Street. Designed by Benjamin Ferrey, a pupil of Pugin, who designed much of the Palace of Westminster. St. Anne's was a nice building faced on its exterior with Kentish ragstone. The interior featured much carved stonework by the Victorian firm, Farmer and Brindley, including many carved heads which I rescued with hammer and chisel when the building was demolished. It was closed in the mid 80s in spite of having the largest congregation in Kemptown and having had the most money spent on it in recent years.....typical of the C of E! The chuch also had some fine stained glass including a spectacular east window by O'Connor from the 1860s; a beautilul iron and brass screen enclosed the choir. This was designed and made by William Bainbridge Reynolds, one of the finest 20th century metalworkers. This has recently been restored and is in the music room of a local house. The organ (by Father Willis) is still in store. Perhaps the saddest thing to relate is that the building had a fine stone reredos...a carved representation of the Last Supper behind the altar. It was coloured and gilded. The demolition firm had freed the central panel for removal, but St. George's church (who took over the parish) wouldn't have it. The east wall was demolished on it. I managed to rescue three smashed heads from the rubble.
By Michael Maine (05/11/2003)
Michael is mistaken about St. Georges church not wanting the stone reredos from St. Anne's. I was churchwarden at St. Georges at the time, and the demolition firm told us that they couldn't extract the reredos at all, so it had to go. I have some fine photos taken of it, and several of the church before its closure. Unfortunately, the whole east wall of the church was collapsing outwards under the weight of the roof, and it was just too much of a job to rebuild.
By Richard Thornburgh (10/05/2004)
This is really an intrusion on your web page, but I'm searching for details of St. Mark's Chuch which I believe was in the same area. I have 'found' a wedding taking place at the church in 1876 and wondered if the church was still in existence or renamed.
By Alan Moore (05/06/2004)
I agree with the comments about Eastern Road - the widening added nothing to traffic movement but has created a bland and displeasing character to Kemptown. Town planners - who are they accountable to?
By Mark Collins (17/01/2005)
Sorry to learn that St Anne's was demolished. Can you tell me what happened to the graveyard? I was hoping to find the gravestone of an ancestor, Richard Drought.
By Bill Piper (17/09/2005)
I lived in eastern road in 1929 at number 38 which was situated next door to All Souls Church. I recall the race days when we would stand on the corner of Feashfield Road and Eastern Road chanting to the returning racegoers, 'Here we are Sir - chuck it over Sir'. I never picked up a penny, the only thing I ever came away with was stamped on knuckles which I received from the other kids. Ah they were the good old days.
By Peter Holden (24/11/2005)
Does anyone recall Brighton Institution for the Deaf, Nos. 122-138 Eastern Road? Is this the same building as Brighton College Junior School which is right opposite Brighton College?
By Geoffrey Eagling (03/03/2006)

My Nan used to live at 98 Eastern Road does any one remember the banana factory just behind Eastern road? I think that there was also a GPO works there, as I remember mobile windup towers and Morris vans with ladders on the roof.

By Sean Hayward (18/02/2007)

Re comment by Alan Moore (05/06/2004) 'I'm searching for details of St. Mark's Chuch and wondered if the church was still in existence or renamed.'

St Mark's became the school chapel for St Mary's Hall, the Girls Public School in Eastern Road, maybe 25 years ago. My brother used to have organ lessons there from the organist Mr Victor Bradley. Visit: http://www.stmaryshall.co.uk/categoryRender.asp?categoryID=3568&cCID=4380 . The plan is to rename it 'St Mary's Hall Chapel & Arts Centre', but I think they should have kept the original dedication in its name - how about St Mary's Hall Arts Centre and Chapel of St Mark?

By Roland Dillistone (20/02/2007)

I now live on the land that was occupied by St Anne's Church, Burlington Street. I'd like to buy some old photos to have framed if anyone has some.

By John (31/01/2008)

I used to follow my mother with her mop round St. Anne's as soon as I could toddle. She was church cleaner. I was christened, confirmed and married at St. Anne's and sang in the choir from about 1934. My son Simon and daughter Francesca were christened there and sang in the choir. Tozzer Witcombe, a teacher at Varndean was choirmaster and he was succeeded by Stanley Houlgate. John may be interested in a book I wrote called The Church Round the Corner which contains photographs of the interior of St. Anne's. Don't know whether it is still in print. QueenSpark books published it some years ago. Lovely, peaceful church with some fine stone carving, much of which was destoyed when the church was demolished. Michael Maine has mentioned the Willis organ.

By Maurice Packham (04/03/2010)

For a brief period in 1959(?) my parents and I lived with my grandparents above a small cafe in Eastern Road. Next door was a timber yard and I vaguely remember a banana factory nearby. Friday night it was round to the municipal baths to share a bath with my dad whilst my mum and sister were in the womens' section. Thankfully this situation didn't last long.

By Lawrence Pattison (10/03/2011)

My family lived in Eastern Road up until 1969 at number 82. We were next to the builder's yard opposite the tarpaulin factory (very glamorous). My two brothers, Steve and Pete, and I used to play in the disused rusty factory building at the rear and, I'm ashamed to say, would help ourselves to an endless supply of sweets from the goods train in the goods yard. The house had an outside toilet in the early days before we had a bathroom installed inside. Can anybody tell me if The Eastern pub is still there?

By Phil Lambert (07/11/2011)

I’m afraid the Eastern pub went some years ago; that area is now sheltered housing as is most of the south side of Eastern Road from Montague Place to Rock Gardens. The tarpaulin factory was called Parsons and there was always a heavy smell of molten tar in that area. Over the road from the factory was a block of 6 flats which also had a rear entrance on Edwin Place, which the time you lived there would have been a row of derelict houses. I’m sure you would remember Albert’s sweet shop on Upper Bedford Street; where you could buy 5 Park Drive and a glass of Tizer.

By Michael Brittain (07/11/2011)

Thanks for the info Micheal. I had two paper rounds for Albert, morning and evening, which took in Sutherland and Freshfield Roads. My dad, Sammy, used to use the Eastern pub on a Sunday and I believe the landlord's name was George.

By Phil Lambert (09/11/2011)

My brother is convinced that there was a ropemakers in Eastern Road called 'Parsons' or 'Parsons & Sons'. I note that Michael mentions Parsons the tarpaulin factory - could this have been the same place? My brother Keith has searched high and low for more details but to no avail! It seems odd because it was a really large building/warehouse along Eastern Road, which he is certain was right in front of Kemp Town railway station, now demolished. Please, if you know anything about this, let me know! Also, where was the banana depot - intriguing!

By Jax Atkins (14/01/2012)

The James Gray photograph collection has some wonderful views of Eastern Road. There is a photo of Parsons and Sons in this photo http://regencysociety-jamesgray.com/volume22/source/jg_22_205.html

By Michael Brittain (16/01/2012)

My family lived at 76 Eastern Road. We lived in a block of flats with an old bit of waste ground and burnt out cars around the back. I think the flats got pulled down in the end or even condemned. We lived there from the early 70s until December 1976 and then we moved to Rottingdean. I also remember Albert's shop although we called it Uncle Albies shop. 2 1/2p for a quarter of sweets. I was trying to locate where abouts Setyres was as I know it was near, if not next door.

By Helen Wrapson (16/03/2012)

There was a block of six flats directly opposite Setyres, which was a yellow painted factory building. The whole north side of Eastern Road between Freshfield and Sutherland Roads was demolished to make way for the Gala bingo hall and car park. There was a bus stop outside of the old Setyres building in about the same place as the bingo hall bus stop is now. I wonder if anybody remembers the cafe on Coalbrook Road right opposite Kemptown Station, it was called Olive's Cafe. It had a great pinball machine- I used to play it on the way home from Queens Park Secondary School.

By Michael Brittain (18/03/2012)

Hello Jax. Your brother is right about Parsons & Sons being a rope and tarpaulin makers in Eastern Road and if I remember correctly it did back of of the Kemptown station in Colebrook Road now known as Freshfield Way. If I remember correctly the Banana factory was called Fyffes which was next door.

By Steve Humphrey (27/01/2013)

The Banana Factory was situated at the east  end of Somerset Street at the junction of Montague Place, it backed on to Edwin Place. AKA Edwin Alley. I do remember you Phil and your dad Sammy, you always used the back gate into the alley. The owners of the Eastern Public House were George and Jessie Thomas. Before that it was George Lowrie, they had children but I only remember David but I know he had a sister I do not remember her name. I hope this helps, regards Paul.

By Paul Briggs (30/12/2013)

My grandparents, George and Jessie Thomas were the publicans of The Eastern pub until it was demolished. A sad day. 

By Bev Wotherspoon, nee Thomas (30/10/2016)

You are right about George Lowrie having the pub in the 60s. Paul Briggs, I used to go to school with David, he had an older brother and sister named Roger and Janet and a half brother called Neil. I am still friends with David, Roger and Neil, sadly Janet passed away several years ago.

By Michael Brittain (31/10/2016)

I lived at 1, Colebrook Road (between Wovenwood and Tyresoles) from 1946 to 1956. How can I find any photos? [Carol, if you are specific about the subject of the photos you are looking for, we anticipate the MyB&H contributors out there may be able to help. The Editing Team]

By Carol Marchant (02/02/2017)

Carol, look at the James Gray collection.

By John Eaton (05/02/2017)

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