Preston

A potted history

By Geoff Mead

This suburb is situated astride the A23 leading into Brighton from the north. Originally a separate parish (separating Brighton from Patcham) it was very large for a downland parish, stretching across the map from the top of Bear Road down to Lewes Road (hence Preston Barracks) right across to Nevill Road adjacent to Hove dog track. The western half was incorporated into Hove and the eastern into Brighton. At one period, the parishes of Hove and Preston were a united benefice.

The Lords of the Manor
The lords of the manor of Preston were in a long line of descent that culminated in the Western family having possession in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were major landowners in the area and were influential in the development of the resort in its boom time in the early 19th century. It was through their lands that the trackway ran that became known as Western Road. In the 1840's they sold out to their wealthy tenant farmers, the Stanfords. It was they who developed much of Hove (the Avenues area), and much of Brighton north of Preston Circus (especially around Preston Park) in the period after 1870.

Villa studded vistas
Preston is an urban gem and green lung, having a large park with magnificent trees and immaculate bowling greens plus two park chalet-cafes. Unusually for the downland it is a very well wooded area and the Victorian expansion into this leafy suburb preserved much of the bucolic charms of the flint built village and its pleasant villa studded vistas.

Centre piece of the village
The centre piece of the village (as we locals call it!) is the Manor House, an essentially Edwardian, small but lavish country house, well maintained by the city museums, as are its recently restored gardens. It lies adjacent to a flint Norman church with a churchyard packed with squirrels.

Commuter country
Definitely commuter country, this is Victorian villa-dom at its best (even the station is tucked away up a tree-lined road with a near country lane beside it). Athough a busy main road splits Preston in two, there is still a separate feel about the area which persists until the A23 takes you down to Preston Circus.

This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
Interesting. My great grandfather, William Cowdrey, was born in St Nicholas, Preston in 1846, and I have never visited Brighton but intend to do so next year. Web sites like this provide a wealth of information for the family history buff.
By Sheila (08/11/2003)
I have some knowledge of Preston having lived in the area and co-authored a book on certain aspects of the area. I would be willing to try to help with any queries people may have.
By Jacqueline Pollard (19/07/2004)
I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has information about the origins of Lowther Road in the Preston area. I have been given to understand that it was named after my great grandfather but all my references have drawn a blank. The 1901 census only lists house numbers 1-7, and I believe that the Lowther family lived at 107.
By Sheila Del Medico (17/10/2004)
Lowther Road was named after Edward Lowther who was the Councillor for Preston at the time the street was developed (1900-1904). Brighton had a tradition of naming streets after Councillors and Mayors eg Brigden Street, Blaker Street et al. From the 1880s, Edward Lowther lived at 41 Ditchling Rise and had a business called 'Lowther & Cameron' coal merchants at Ship Street & 85 Preston Road. He was still living in Ditchling Rise in 1910 when he is listed as an Alderman and a JP. There are other Lowthers listed in the street directory at that time but not in Lowther Road.
By Jacqueline Pollard (11/01/2005)
Thank you for the information Jaqueline it has been very helpful.
By Sheila Del Medico (24/02/2005)
My family owned the Preston Bakery from 1900 till the late 60s. I lived there fom 1935 and left during 1954. Anyone out there I should know?
By Peter Clark (22/03/2005)
When we were compiling the 'Preston' book many people talked about 'Clarks' bakery (now Foxs Estate Agents). I'm sure many of those who contributed their memories were known to you. Names that spring to mind are Ambrose, Durrant, Jones, Knight, Riddlestone, Miles, Saunders and Read.
By Jacqueline Pollard (23/04/2005)
This is funny because I got here looking for information on my mother's married name (Riddlestone). As far as we know nothing connects her first husband to Preston. On the other hand, she does remember a Pollard family from the London area (St. Albans). Any bells, Jacqueline?
By Jane David (30/08/2005)

My parents, Ada and Samual Mori and I, lived at 6 Middle Road from 1940 - 1975. I have fond memories of Mrs Durrant, Mr and Mrs Ambrose, Preston Bakery and all of Preston Village. Milly, the wife of Fred Saunders who had the shoe repair shop, was my auntie (sister to Ada Mori.) I can smell the bread from the bakery now. My husband and I were married in Preston Church March 1963. I would be very interested in Jaqueline Pollard's book of the area.

By Pamela Bennett, nee Mori (11/12/2006)

I have been sculling through trying to find something regarding "Johnson's Midgets", the minature busses that were built at the old Preston Forge in the village. Peter Johnson, the son of the proprietor and I went to Preston Infants School together and after school we spent a lot of time at the forge especially with Mr Craig, the bodywork builder.
Also, can I remember Pamela Mori from those distant days?

By Raymond (Dickie) Bird (09/01/2007)

I live on Edburton Avenue and know there was a dairy on the lower half. Does anyone know any more about the avenue or the shops on it?

By Phil Jackson (11/01/2007)

Excited to hear Raymond Bird still remembers me, I have a picture of us and most of the children from Preston Old Church, circa 1945 in a Nativity Play. Anyone remember Vivienne Poole who lived at 4 Middle Road, as we were always together and Jean Brinkley who was also our friend.
Have remembered some of the names, Ann Healey, Peter or Anthony Johnston  son of the bus maker), Elizabeth Keith, Jeffery Ballard, Madge, Madeline, Valerie, Roy?

By Pamela Bennett,nee Mori (05/02/2007)

Pamela Bennett -I was very interested to read your comments. Fred Saunders, boot repairer,was my uncle so I remember your Auntie Milly very well. I have a picture of her with me and my mum and dad, who was Herbert Saunders. I am trying to piece together the Saunders family and wondered if you ever see Roy,their son at all? Also what a coincidence, my grandad William Luke was head porter at the Old Ship Hotel in the early 1900's!
He died in 1936 so perhaps your father succeeded him.

By Diane Ruff (nee Saunders) (26/02/2007)

My family lived in 45 and 47 North Road, then 46 Middle Road owned by Mr Cummins; mother Vera, father Fred, brother Fred and sister Patrica. I left the village to marry some fourty years ago and the rest of my family in the late sixties when the houses were demolished. I can still remember my news paper rounds for Mr Newington, butchers round for Mr Ambler then Mr Baker. Delivering perscriptions for Inskips on Wednesday and Saturdays. I can recall things as if it were yesterday. When I tell my children and grandchildren about my childhood they just do not believe me. Playing in Snakey Lane, camping in the meadow in Cherry Woods, roaming for miles totaly free. Barn Rise for blackberrys and Sweet Hill for damsons. Twenty or more kids going to the Dukes or down the beach always someone looking out for you, a real community. When I see Fred or Pat we still feel that the village is home.

By John Allam (19/08/2007)

During the late forties to early fifties I lived at 6 Robertson Road and wondered if anyone remembers me from then? I went to Stanford Road School before going on to Fawcett in York Place. Names I remember are Brian Blackford, Tony Watts, Bob Wadey, Jean Lillywhite and Vera Botting. I was interested in cycle racing at Preston Park track and took part. I also remember Boswood's paper shop and Billy Mills' barbers shop in his house. Also Bill Nichols' bike repairs at the top of South Road. Can anyone else remember any of this?

By Ron Jones (01/10/2007)

During the time I lived at Robertson Road, in the late forties to early fifties, I remember some of the following things. We lived next door to the dog's home and my parents were friendly with the vet and his wife, a Mr and Mrs Gardener. I used to do a paper round for Mr Boswood across the road from me. I also in the mornings, used to fill an old barrow up with papers, and take them up to Preston Park Station to sell. We had a trestle table that was kept in a room up on the station and I used to set it up outside the entrance at the top of Clermont Road. The commuters used to come running up the road as the train was coming in and just throw their money on the table, grab a paper and not wait for their change, I made a lot of pocket money doing that. In the winter if we had any snow, we used take our sledges up to the top of The Drove, or Black Hill as we called it and come zooming down and under the arch in South Road, you couldn't do it these days. I remember doing my mum's shopping at White and Wilsons grocers shop and Terry Turnbulls butchers also. There was also Soft Water Laundries that had a shute for the baskets to slide down, we boys used to slide down there too. These are just a few of the things I remember about living in Robertson Road. Is there anyone out there who remembers any of these, or any other things from about this time?

By Ron Jones (04/12/2007)

My maiden name was Bowyer and my four brothers and I lived at the very top of Black Hill. My brothers were Brynmor, Euan, John and Roy. They did paper rounds for Boswoods and up until the mid-80s, Iris Boswood used to pick my mother up for church on a Sunday morning. Your correspondent wanted info on Riddleston. I knew a Peter Riddleston who also knew my older brothers. He worked for Brighton Parks and I believe he was related to my mother's good friends Mr and Mrs Brockman who lived one door down from Boswoods. Mr Brockman worked in the Pullman car and the Brockmans were very [kind] to my younger brother John who was mentally challenged. I remember Vera Botting. She lived almost beside the bombsite on ?? Road. I shopped at White and Wilson during the war and also at Mr Turnbull's butcher shop. My brothers were friends with the Thornton boys whose parents had greengrocery shops in Robertson Road and up off the Dyke Road(?) Crescent. There were a couple of houses my mother and I used to visit on Roberston Road, both on the side of the dogs' home and just one or two down. Unfortunately I cannot remember the ladies' names. I do remember the Pococks from the end of the terrace on Kingsley. My mother, Mary Bowyer, lived to be 96; my father, Arthur Bowyer, died in 1986. Our house at 125 Compton Road was unique being both in Compton Road and the Drove. I am told that a somewhat modern house has now been built in what used to be our backgarden.

By Diana Anstead (nee Bowyer), Canada (28/02/2008)

I am very interested in the history of 45 Surrenden Road and would be grateful for any information.

By Kim (09/03/2008)

I know Iris Boswood, she still lives in Brighton and I believe that her father owned the paper shop. She looked after my late husband and his brother and sister for years.

By S Cawley (07/05/2008)

As a family, the Bowyers, we knew the Boswoods quite well. They had the paper shop right at the foot of the Drove but known to us as Black Hill. That was in the days when the traffic went both up and down the hill not like today which is one-way only. Anyway, both my elder brothers delivered papers for Mr. Boswood and I walked down every Friday for my weekly comic. That was also my way to walk to Varndean School each school day. I take it from your message that Iris is still living in Brighton. Like my family Iris was also connected to Clermont Church. Please give her my kind regards.

By Diana Anstead (nee Bowyer), Canada (19/05/2008)

I lived at 48 Kingsley Road, up on the terrace, from the early 40s to early 60s when my sister Coral and I emigrated to Australia. In hindsight very brave for two girls on their own. When I come back on holiday and have a look around the old place, I am always gobsmacked by the number of cars parked in the street. Wendy Freeman was my sister's friend and she had a sister Jasmine and lived in Robertson Road opposite the end of Kinglsey. I remember Scarborough Road, the two missing houses, Guy Fawkes bonfires and the Knight Sisters; there was Barbara, Celia and a younger sister. Black Hill when the black ice was about, now that was fun, at least if going to South Road you could take the easier path around Robertson Road and past the PDSA. However getting up the hill that was another story only one way to go. Pat Mills was at 25 Compton Road we started at Vera Garbutt's together, after a year she left and I went for 15 years. Best thing my mother ever did for me. How brave was that young spark that used to toboggan down Black hill and under the bridge. He obviously didn't have my mother for a mother. I also remember the Pococks.I went to Stanford Primary and then moved on to Varndean. I would love to hear from anyone who remembers me. If not thank you all for contributing some wonderful memories.

By Val Myers (nee Silsby) (31/07/2008)

I live on the terrace on Kinglsey Road on the corner by The Drove (I always remember my parents calling it Black Hill). My mum and dad used to work at the printers and bookbinders in Scarbrough Road. Kingsley is a great road.

By Tim Hodges (06/09/2008)

I live in one of the cottages that were converted from the gothic looking building in North Road that used to be Preston Church of England infant school. I was just curious about when the building was first built. Does anyone know?

By Cartoline Hartley (29/09/2008)

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has recollections of a family called Harwood who used to live at No. 6 Robertson Road, Preston from about 1906 up until at least 1925. The father's name was John William Harwood and his wife's name was Agnes (nee Thresher). Their children were Katherine May (my grandmother), William John, Margaret Alice, Lilian Florence, Leonard Herbert and Daisy Eleanor Harwood.
John William Harwood died at No. 6 in 1919 and only saw Margaret Alice married in 1916 before he passed away. William John Harwood died in WW1 in 1917 and is commemorated on the memorial in St. John's Church, Preston. My grandfather, John Briggs, married Katherine May Harwood in 1921 and the rest of the Harwood children married between 1923 and 1930 but, while some of them were still living at No. 6 at the times of their marriages, I have no idea when they finally stopped living there or when Agnes Harwood died. Does anyone remember them?

By David Briggs (04/12/2008)

I've found reading these messages most interesting and very nostalgic. I lived at 2 Scarborough Road and remember many of the names mentioned in Robertson and Kingsley road. I too did a paper round for Boswoods and although I left to join the RAF in 1951 my parents were there until around 1980ish. I remember Billy Floate, Peter Barrat and David Betts who lived in Robertson Road. I went to Stanford Road school and The Fawcett school where I passed the school certificate which was my gateway to a flying career in the RAF.

By David Blackford (01/02/2009)

With reference to Val Silsby's comment - I too attended Vera Garbutt's dancing school, Stanford Road and Varndean Grammar School for Girls. My dates are very vague but it would have been around 1955 - 1963 when my family moved to Cornwall.  If anyone has any memories I would love to hear from them.

By Sue (nee Shires) (06/01/2010)

Would anyone have any photographs of Vera Garbutt? She married my great uncle Alfred Evershed. I would love to hear from anyone who would know when her dancing school was founded? Thank you.

By T. R. Evershed (30/07/2010)

Yes, watch this space - I will try to put them up today

By Sue Loveridge (30/11/2010)

Haven't visited this site for a while so it looks like I'm jumping forward a year or more. I expect many of you visit these areas where we grew up - on Google earth, street view. Not a lot has changed but my old home at 2 Scarborough Road looks updated and I see that it sold last year for £260K. My mum and dad paid £1.00d. a week rent in the 1940s. Most of the shops are now houses but I have very happy memories of living there. I am now 78 and still in good nick living on the Isle of Wight.

By David Blackford (29/01/2012)

The dairy shop was at No 90 Preston Drove. It is now a launderette.

By Joy (17/08/2012)

Sadly I have to report my brother Fred died this year. He loved his childhood living in Preston Village- 45 and 47 North Road and 46 Middle road. Everyone in the village knew Fred. We hope to have a plaque on a bench in the park in his memory. No matter where he lived Preston village was home.

By John Allam (10/09/2012)

As I said before, I left Brighton at the age of 18 to join the RAF. I served in all places for 37 years before retiring to the Isle of Wight, but this will always be my home page, and Brighton will always be my home town. Happy, happy memories.

By David Blackford (21/01/2013)

I noticed this blog on the Preston area and would like to say that I worked at White & Wilson Grocers between January 1969 and February 1970. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was the last vestige of fantastic grocery retail with the elements of home delivery. Mr & Mrs Wilson were excellent to work for and making up the home deliveries until around 10.30pm during the Xmas period and hand bagging all the dried fruit in 1/4, 1/2 and 1 pound bags on a Saturday morning was a memorable time. In the modern age the home delivery by supermarkets is probably perceived as a new idea, in those days there was no internet but Mr Ward and his colleague would call at your house and take your order, or you could phone it in to Maud. Wonderful training for any customer focused retailer and a fabulous grounding for building a career in management.

By Brian Pond (26/02/2013)

Please could anyone tell me anything about our house; we live at 41 Millers Road, the middle of three set back from the road cottages. We face onto the railway and are accessed via a little service lane off of Millers. Some people have said our home was a servants quarters for Preston manor house? Elgin and Mabel cottages have been mentioned as names? We decided to refer to our little pad as Elgin cottage in honour. We really enjoy Preston village and reading people's memories and all the rich local history is great. We would really appreciate any details about our cottage. Thank you Katy, David and baby Jack Statham.

By Katy statham (new bethell) (26/05/2013)

I am visiting from Australia and believe my father would often visit his father on holidays here in Brighton. I believe the house was 95 Lowther Road, and had been called Bondi, does anyone have any knowledge of this? Thank you

By Cheryl Hobson (21/06/2013)

We recently spent a week staying in a house in Lowther Road, Brighton but experienced ghostly goings on. I want to do some research into the house to see what happened there. Can anyone help with the history of the road, especially murders or criminal goings on please?

By Malcolm (22/10/2013)

Was Riddlestone originally Riddlestaffer? I found a postcard dated 1917 addressed to a Florence Riddlestaffer of Dieppe Villas, Havelock Road. 

By Steve (01/07/2014)

George Augustus Riddlestorffer ran a protestant Sunday School in the London Road in the 19th century, so it is not inconceivable that Florence was some sort of relative

By Geoffrey Mead (03/07/2014)

I was born in Scarborough Road in 1930 and have a great deal of memories growing up in Preston. I was present when the bomb dropped on Scarborough Road in 1940 and my friend Charlie Siddal died - always in my memory. I have fond memories of growing up and remember quite a lot from that time.

By Roy Tullett (27/07/2014)

Does anyone know the date that the shop White & Wilson in Robertson Road opened. I think the White could possibly be a relative of mine.

By Margaret Waters (30/12/2014)

Hi Margaret,

Luther White took over a Grocer's store (formerly Shaw's) at 36, Robertson Road during the late 1920s. It became White and Wilson after the war.

Regards, Andy

By Andy Grant (01/01/2015)

I have just been hearing about the Scarborough Road bomb in 1940 from Charlie Siddal's niece. Her Mum remembers Roy Tullett and his mum very well, as well as other names above and would love to get back in touch. If Roy sees this I can pass on contact details. To avoid putting email addresses here I suggest contacting me via the East Hoathly Preservation Society website. p.s. anyone remember the Pidgleys half way up the Drove?

By Chris Pellett (18/03/2016)

I last posted a message here 4 years ago expressing surprise that the house in a very working class area, 2 Scarborough Road where I lived in the 1940s, was being offered for sale at £260K. Imagine my astonishment to find that our old house is now offered for sale at £470K! My Dad could have bought it for around £2K 70 years ago!

By David Blackford (21/04/2016)

Does anyone remember the White family from 26, Middle Road: Michael, Eileen, Sheila, Patrick and Brian?

By Michael White (28/08/2016)

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.