Pool Valley

What a welcome!

By Martin Nimmo

All the wind and rain from the sea front seems to gather in Pool Valley, blowing through the gap between the Royal York building and the Albion Hotel and the other two exits! And the litter from the sea front always manages to blow along with it. Even the old Savoy cinema was built to turn its back on Pool Valley! To think that this was once the main terminal for all the Southdown country bus services into Brighton; even the glass roofs they used to have over the queues failed to make much impact.  What a welcome to the town on bad weather days! Today, empty of the green and cream buses and with very few people around, it must feature as one of Brighton and Hove's worst 'streets', except on days of high summer when a few coachloads of day-trippers arrive to liven it up a little.

Contributed to website on 20th January 2003
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
I remember Pool Valley as a child on holiday in the 1950s and the Southdown buses coming in and out. Even on a wet day it seemed OK and the buses were warm and inviting and waiting to take us home. Now you cannot even get to the place we used to go to, as buses no longer go there. That's progress.
By Bob Stephens (26/10/2003)
There's a nice piece in Graham Greene's 'Travels with my Aunt': "'I like to be at the centre of all the devilry,' she said, 'with the buses going off to all those places.' She spoke as though their destinations were Sodom and Gomorrah rather than Lewes and Patcham and Littlehampton and Shoreham."
By Martin Nimmo (09/12/2003)
Pool Valley is gone? What a shame. My parents and I, every Sunday, would take one of the single decker buses to marvellous countryside places to stroll around and then have delicious afternoon teas served by sweet, elderly ladies in little tea houses before the bus would bring us back. And my dog and I would take trips to Rottingdean via the open-top double deckers in the summer. Sad to know it's all gone but it's all still safe, as it was, in my mind - thank heaven.
By Ashlea Simpson (27/10/2004)
As a child, a group of trees in Blakers Park, was our Pool Valley where without any of the modern toys, we travelled around the park's pathway, pretending to be buses - Southdown of course.
By Peter Hogg (17/09/2005)
Memories flood back as I read the emails of Pool Valley. Mum packing us up and traveling by double decker bus from Mile Oak, into Brighton, and hurry to Pool Valley to catch a green and white coach to London. Half way pit stop somewhere along the London to Brighton road. Must go before we leave, its a long ride. Soft sandwiches eaten at the halfway house, and potty break, before climbing aboard the coach again and settling down for the ride on to London and the two weeks' visit with grandparents. Think the coach pulled into Victoria Station, London, too young to remember exactly. But Pool Valley, such a busy, busy area and such a small area for the coaches pulling in, turning round and exiting. The drivers certainly did a great job.
By Bonny Cother -Veronica Bentley (11/01/2006)

My dad used to work there in the last days of the National Bus Company. He was a coach inspector and would guide the coaches from London and everywhere else into the station where they would reverse back into the stands. The Southdown buses also ran from here too. I remember the large canopy over the waiting area and the mannequin dressed in a conductor's uniform in the entrance to the toilets. (which I was terrified of - probably from watching too much Dr Who).

By Alex (05/09/2007)

I remember getting the last bus back to Crowborough after watching an Albion night game. The bus was always full. It used to be a good place to meet up with your friends if you got seperated after the game!

By Nick the Greek (08/07/2008)

I remember Pool Valley very well. My Dad (Bill Allsopp - actually he was Welsh originally and his name was Gwilym) worked for Southdown, eventually becoming an inspector. He was based in Pool Valley. The place always seemed incredibly busy. There was a Ford dealer or car rental place under the old cinema on the SW side of the Valley. His goof friends on Southdown were Douggie Madell, Bill Taylor, Des Curram, Eric Ellis, and Bert Ince, with whom he served in the Royal Marines in WWII. Bert could be a very tough handful from time to time according to my Dad. Happy days indeed and very very busy ones as I recall. Pool Valley was a field of green and cream. Pity that Nationalization and then predictable decline was the fate of the company now leaving Pool Valley an empty forlorn place.

By Phil Allsopp (08/09/2010)

I remember the cake shop in Pool Valley. My sisters and I would make a yearly pilgrimage to Tunbridge Wells with our grandmother and before getting on the bus, we would buy some lovely chelsea buns, rock cakes and big raisin cookies from the shop. Even back when I was a child (more than fifty years ago) there was always litter strewn around. It was a bit of a wind tunnel.

By Gwen Healy (nee Barnes) (25/11/2010)

To Phil Allsop: I am the Bill Taylor who was friends with your Dad. What a lot of memories your letter has brought to me.

By Bill Taylor (25/09/2011)

I first came in to Pool Valley in the late 40s after mum had put me on a 119 or 122 from Eridge and my aunt from Whitehawk would meet me. I would spend about two weeks with her before my journey back. She would see me off and I still remember sitting in the waiting room there for the bus. The next time I came to the place I was a bus conductor on the 119 service working for Southdown, based at Lewes, and this would have been in 1962. A short while later I was based at Haywards Heath and operated on the 30,32 and 36 services out of Pool Valley as a conductor and later as a driver. Towards the end of the 60s I was based at Edward Street and again operated out of Pool Valley. In 1970 I worked for The Royal Blue Express Services based at Portsmouth and twice headed for Brighton (our main services went to the Midlands or the West country) and of course pulled in to Manchester Street Coach Station. The first time I was there I parked for the night in Freshfield Road garage but the second time I parked up for the night in a side street just off the Dyke Road. After the Royal Blue and a short spell with Black & White at Cheltenham, I became based in Victoria as a driver and then an Inspector. By now it was National Express and in 2005 they seconded me to Pool Valley where I stayed until I retired in 2009. Pool Valley was a very busy station in it's early days but much too small to cope with the larger buses now in use. I remember most "out of town" buses would wait for a while if some of the late shows were running a bit late, especially  the Hippodrome. 

By Jim Stapleton (14/01/2014)

I remember Pool Valley from when I was a kid. Apart from the Southdown Buses there were routes that were worked as joint services. I believe these were either from Maidstone or Aldershot. The valley in those days used to throb with buses and was an enthusiats' delight, but let's not forget the other service bus areas like the trolleybus terminus at the Old Steine and the BH&D terminal that stood almost opposite.

By John Wignall (18/01/2014)

I used to work as a kid in the cafe where all the bus drivers came. Frankie Laine was always belting out the latest song 'Jezabel'. I think the cafe was called Shimells or something like that. I think an Italian family had the cake shop then, Ho hum memories.

By Shirley Gardiner (25/01/2016)

A Brighton guide of 1950 shows the café was SHIMEILD'S at 4 Pool Valley, they also had another branch at 5-6 Middle Street, plus a 'High Class Snack Bar' at 7 Pool Valley  and a branch at Richmond Surrey

By Geoffrey Mead (25/01/2016)

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