London Road and Roundhill

History notes

by John Blackwell

By 1840 Brighton had expanded northwards from the old town and had reached Trafalgar Street, with a finger of development stretching further north to the present Open Market. The railway arrived from London in 1841 and a further line was opened in 1846 to Lewes and Hastings which crossed the valley on the magnificent Preston (or London Road) Viaduct. This provided the catalyst for the building of small streets of houses between the station and London Road; they were demolished in the 1960's. The establishment of Brighton Locomotive Works in 1846 on the site presently occupied by the station car park accelerated the process and by 1870 the area up to New England and Viaduct roads was built upon.

The Stanford estate
The area to the north and east of Preston Circus up to the Ditchling Road was part of the Stanford estate, the family seat being Preston Manor. This was still farmland but from 1871it was released in carefully controlled parcels for lower middle class housing and was totally built over by 1880. A railway station, London Road was opened in 1877, to serve the area. It is situated some half mile north of Preston Circus with access from both Springfield Road and Ditchling Rise.

Park Crescent
North of the Level, Park Crescent was built in the 1850's. The facades of the houses face a private garden bounded by a splendid flint and brick wall, on the northern side of Union Road. This was originally a cricket ground and a Sussex X1 played there in 1823. (As Sussex are the oldest formally established county club, in 1839, the site can be claimed as the oldest county ground in England).

Roundhill
The area between Ditchling Road and Lewes Road, known as Roundhill, was developed from the 1860's to the 1880's with a mixture of middle class and artisan housing in a variety of architectural styles. On the summit of the hill at the junction of Round Hill and Belton roads stood Round Hill windmill. It was erected in about 1834 and bought in 1879 by Charles Cutress (his descendents are still associated with Forfars the bakers) who installed a steam engine for power as housing development had 'taken the wind'. The mill continued working until 1910, and was demolished in 1913.

Municipal abattoir built 1894
To the north bounded by the present Hollingdean Road the municipal abattoir was built in 1894 , this closed in 1986. Adjacent was the "dust destructor" or rubbish incinerator (nothing new there then) which opened in 1886 and ceased in 1952, its high chimney, a local landmark, being demolished in about 1960. The site is still home to the wholesale meat market and the City's refuse collection service.

Saunders Park
At the north western corner of Hollingdean and Lewes roads, in the present Saunders Park, was the town's first waterworks. This was established sometime after 1834 and provided piped water to customers for two hours a day. It was not until 1854 that a constant service was provided.

Opposite was the Gaiety Cinema which opened in 1937. Renamed the Ace in 1965 and the Vogue in 1971, it was demolished in 1980. The site is now under the Vogue gyratory road system.

Lewes Road was crossed by another railway viaduct immediately south of Woodvale Cemetery; this carried the branch line to Kemp Town and was demolished in 1976. Further south where the Brighton Trades and Labour Club now stands was another early cinema, the Arcadia.

This page was added on 22/03/2006.

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