Aldrington

A resident's opinion of the Aldrington area

By Kate Byrne - Byron Street, Poets Corner, Hove

Reading the potted history of Aldrington (Poets Corner) by Neal Ball, I wonder if he either knows the area or, worse, even likes it. There are plenty of people who love to live here and would be willing to sing its praises.

Recent constructions
Mr Ball says: "The most recent construction was in the late 1980s when a group of properties owned by the landlord Nicholas Van Hoogstraten were compulsorily purchased and two blocks of social housing were built on Portland Road. This road in particular is full of what can only be described as 'odd' shops, with a good number offering second hand furniture."

He's right in saying that two blocks of social housing were built, but failed to add that the social housing architecture is very pleasing and blends in beautifully with its surroundings (even though it replaced the wonderful art deco buildings that Mr Hoogstraten allowed to fall into such disrepair). But to say that Portland Road is full of 'odd' shops with a good number offering second-hand furniture should surely be questioned. As the rents rise in many parts of Brighton , Portland Road is attracting some very interesting 'odd' shops, bars and cafes. It is true that through the 1980s and 1990s, Portland Road was a shadow of its former self. However, over the last few years it is becoming more of what it should and could be. Come visit it and see.

Notable buildings
The old cinema that became a bingo hall, is now owned by Downland Housing Trust and will be a mixture of social housing and a, yet to be decided, community building for residents.

Stoneham Park
Stoneham Park, just behind Portland Road, is a very popular park that also houses a very active and thriving residents group - Poets Corner Residents Society - in the TalkShop (see website: www.poetscornercommunity.net), its own ICT Suite offers computer courses and a Kidz computer Club for children of all ages and is a venue for arts, health and other community groups. The Poets Corner Residents Society facilitates Family Fun Day (usually 2nd week July) followed by two weeks of Fringe Events. Also in the park is a very popular cafe, Cafe in the Park, open every day. Incidentally, Stoneham Park also gave birth to Park Safe (set up to reclaim parks for the children and away from drug users/pushers, and drinkers), the model of which has been exported to most parks in the Brighton and Hove area and all over the country.

The YMCA
The YMCA have been a dominant force in the area for about 20 years and have helped hundreds of kids. Without them, Aldrington/ Poets Corner would not be, compared to other areas, the safe and happy place it is.

Pubs
The Aldrington Pub is quite rightly mentioned, historically, apart from it being a thriving meeting place. However, there is also the Portland Hotel Pub, which showcases live music nearly every night and supports so many local causes, eg. YMCA, PCRS, Cafe in the Park and the soon-to-be constructed Skate Park at the Lagoon.

Local news
We have our own excellent bi-monthly local newspaper, the West Hove News (circulation 10,000) that will also go online (www.poetscornercommunity.net) in mid-November 2006.

I hope that my comments allow Mr Ball to review our area more generously in the future. Why does he think so many people want to live here? Talk to local estate agents (especially Whitlock and Heaps who have served the area for three decades or more) who will tell him that there are not enough houses for them to sell in Aldrington/Poets Corner.

We are a fantastic multicultural community that deserves praise and not indifferent comments.

This page was added on 07/11/2006.
Comments about this page

I completely agree with all that Kate has to say. I have lived on Tamworth Road since 2003, and over the last 4 years the transformation of Portland Road and surrounding area is amazing. Unfortunately, property prices have shot up astronomically also, but in terms of 'local community spirit', it is a fantastic locality. Regarding odd shops, over the past 2 years, those 'odd shops' have become quality wine merchants, new pubs and restaurants, coffee bars, etc. The YMCA does wonderful work with the local kids and youths and runs activities and courses throughout the year. Stoneham Park is a safe and well-run place for kids to play and enjoy. I do think that if there was a budget for planting new trees and greenery on Portland and the surrounding streets, such as Stoneham, Alpine, Ruskin and Lennox Roads, that would enhance the area so much. A great place to live and exciting at the moment, watching all the new developments happening also.

By Martina Murphy (14/02/2007)

My husband and I moved into Westbourne Street just over 5 years ago and have seen a fair few transitions but all for the best I must add. As both Kate and Martina mentioned, Stoneham Park has really blossomed. I attended the Poet's Corner festival day last week. It was so lovely to see that wonderful community spirit. It has only been made possible by a lot of hard work, and input from the Poet's Corner Residents Society, the local shopkeepers and also the residents.

Since living in the area we have met so many lovely people including alot of great characters! and it is no wonder that Estate Agents are crying out for properties in the area because no one wants to leave such a lovely and friendly area.

By Fiona Sturgeon (20/07/07)

By Fiona Sturgeon (22/07/2007)

I've lived in the area for 3 years now and it's been enjoyable. Compared to the rest of the city, it's pretty provincially-minded, probably closer to Sussex than Brighton in character. The solid Victorian houses, larger than most though the gardens are tiny, and the sense of community, are Poets' Corners best attribute. We now have two decent pubs, the Ancient Mariner and Westbourne, and the Portland Arms. Stoneham Park has improved a lot, though is still prone to be a windswept, litter-prone hangout for local chavdom in the early evening - Blaker's or Queen's Park this ain't. Still considering it was originally a pig cemetery that was paved over to prevent disease it's OK in its own way. But with the sea just 10 minutes walk away, a couple of new cafes on Portland Rd, a posh (if overpriced) wine shop and Stoneham Road's wonderful Nature's Way (more of a greengrocer's than a health shop) run by 'Neville the gent' I'm gonna miss this area when we move. And compared to where we're moving to - Hove/Portslade borders with Boundary Rd as our local high street - Poets' Corner might seem like bliss.

By Alex Robinson (25/07/2007)

We moved here (from South London) just over 3 years ago and currently live opposite Stoneham Park. So far, we have never tired of saying how much we love living here, even though a lot of people seem to stop right outside our house to part company...ie lots of midnight drunken banter that we hear almost every word of. Nevertheless, our little community is, IMHO, a wonderful environment in which to raise a family, which is why we moved here in the first place. Great rail and bus connections into Hove and Brighton, creches and nurseries on almost every corner, an interesting array of shops, Stoneham Park, great takeaways\ food delivery etc. etc. .The Babylon Lounge, only ten minutes walk, deserves a special mention for being ten minutes walk away and the only place this side of Brighton where you can get a drink and sit by the sea. Also, the Curry Mahal is a fantastic place for good food and a lively atmosphere.
We travel a lot, but when we hear the seagulls, we feel like we are home! Honestly, can't imagine where else would be better.

By Steve (30/09/2007)

I couldn't agree more with Steve, despite the ridiculous complaints in the Argus recently about the seagulls, I think they sound lovely. My wife and I live in Amherst Crescent (north of the Railway at Aldrington Halt). We have walked the route of the old Dyke railway many times. The shape of the Crescent reflects the original curved route from the old 'Dyke' junction up to Old Shoreham Road. We also walk our two dogs regularly under the tunnel and round Stoneham Park (and YES, we DO pick up) and have been very impressed with the improvements made, mainly down to the residents association. Between the downs and the sea, in easy reach of both, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else!

By Barrie (31/10/2007)

My comments on Aldrington were added in the period 2000 to 2002 when certainly initially the majority of shops were selling second hand furniture. Since when some of them have gone and been reaplaced with other shops. In addition we now have "The Vault" housed in an old bank. Not sure there are lots of new bars etc. but this one is certainly worth a look. However, like anything, the details on my site and the pages on here, are only my viewpoint! We moved here about 2001 and an awful lot has changed in the area since then. In those days, we never would have gone for a drink in the Aldrington pub (now the Westbourne).

By Neal Ball (16/03/2008)

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