Bennett Road

Childhood reminiscences, late 1940s

By Mick Peirson

I lived at number 35 Bennett Road. I remember Sussex Crumpets, where a carrier bag of damaged crumpets could be had for a tanner in the late afternoon. I also remember the bombsite where we played for hours and hours. I remember Phillip Mansfield and his brother and his parents and grandparents. The Mansfields lived next to Ian (Sid) Bradstock by the telephone pole. Mr. Mansfield was a prison warder as was my uncle Arty, who served in Wandsworth and Pentonville and Canterbury prisons.

The local shop
The shop at number 2 Bennett Road was first an ice cream factory in the late 40s. When we kids stood outside long enough one of the girls would bring us out a block of ice-cream to share among us. After that if I remember rightly, it was a bike shop run by Bert and his wife. And after that it was a sort of DIY store selling all sorts of bits and bobs. It was owned by a Mr. Thompson and his wife, they both later moved to a shop in Whitehawk Road. I think it became a pet shop after that. I never remembered a fish and chip shop in Bennett Road, there was a fish and chip shop on the corner of Rugby place, the next street down.

Big pools winners
The Bostons winning the pools was a big story when we were kids, they bought a Rover 75 with a cyclops headlight, and they also bought their house and the one next door at number 29 where the Macklins lived.

Fun in Sheepcote Valley
The military stuff that we played on was over in the dump at Sheepcote Valley, another big fun playground of the time. We were quite good at building our own pedal bikes, and Sheepcote Valley was a splendid source of bike bits. We usually came home covered in dirt from raking around the tip.

Mrs Smith and her parrot
The sweet shop at number 1 was where we spent our pocket money usually on the lucky dip. I remember Mrs. Smith and her parrot. I can see the cage now with it's black knob on the top. She would put the cage outside in the summer. Later came Mr. Mrs. Bridges, and indeed he was a good electrician. I can remember loads of times from Bennett Road, but what I did last week I would have to look in my diary. I wonder if there are any more folk with memories from that time in our lives.

This page was added on 23/11/2006.
Comments about this page

I lived in no. 7 Wiston Close Whitehawk from 1947 to 1958. I was nearly 12 years old when I moved with my parents to Australia. I can remember playing in the Sheepcote Valley dump. It always had an amazing array of "treasures" that fascinated us as young boys. I remember a disused tank like vehicle that we played in. As I recall we could still turn the turret. I loved my childhood in Whitehawk. I'm sure I regularly walked along Bennet Road on my return from the beach,although I didn't know many street names at the time. It would be great to see photos and/or maps of the area as it was then.

By Eric Cook (02/12/2006)

I had a look at the map of Brighton, and could not find Wiston Close. There is Wiston Road which I remember as a kid, and there is Wiston Road South and Wiston Road North. Was the Close off Wiston Road? I don't know if the area has been developed since I lived in Brighton. I seem to remember I used to walk home from school in Woodingdean with a lad called Mickey Woolmer from that area, did you ever hear of him? I am glad you remember Sheepcote Valley tip, how could you forget it - the best place I ever found as a kid. From where you lived Eric, you only had to walk across Wilsons Avenue and you were there.

By Mick Peirson (13/12/2006)

Hello Mick. The area that I lived in in Whitehawk has been completely redeveloped. Wiston Close was a short cul-de-sac about where Alan Way is now and it ran parallel to Wilson Avenue. At the top of Wiston Close was a farm. At the bottom was a lane that I used to walk to Whitehawk Primary School. The lane ran from Wilson Avenue, past Wiston Close and over Nuthurst and Findon Roads where there were steps. The houses in Wiston Close were all prefabs. I don't remember Mickey Woolmer you mentioned, but I would love to hear from anybody who lived around the Wiston Close area. The only name I can remember is Christine Evans.

By Eric Cook (04/03/2007)

So happy to read about Wiston Road, Whitehawk.
I lived at 109 Wiston Rd when I was nine years old and went to the school there. They were such happy days, my friend David Funnell lived next door and we still see each other now and again. Next door to that lived John Tidy and his brother Robin, their dad worked on the buses, such a nice family. I sometimes meet them also on my travels. Later on we moved back to Sandhurst Ave,Woodingdean but my mum returned to Wiston Road later in life and lived at 228. Her name was Dolly Eke. Thanks for the memories.

By Christine Eke (05/10/2007)

My family lived at 57 Bennett Road and I can remember memories of Whitehawk School. Some of my brothers, Jimmie, Roy, Raymond, David and my sister Mavis went to the Whitehawk School. My eldest brother Jimmie who married Marie Oliver, lives at 169 Wiston Road and has lived there all his married life. Jimmie is now 82 years old. I can remember when we were living in Bennett Road during the war and one night when we came home from the Whitehawk Boys Club our house had been hit by a bomb. Unfortuately our piano was destroyed. That night and for the next three nights I went home with the Georgie Bocker who lived on Hervey Road, Whitehawk.

By Ron George (17/01/2008)

I lived at 7 Firle Road from 1928 to 1950, apart from stints working in aircraft factories in Crawley and Golders Green, and as a flight engineer in the RAF. I went to St. Luke's Infants, Junior Mixed, and Senior Boys Schools. In the Senior Boys, from 1933 to 1936, my pal was George Whiting, a foster child who lived with the Leaches at number 2 Firle Rd. George and I often walked over to Sheepcote Valley, though we called it "the dump," and soon found it was a great source of good bike parts from which "bitsas," (bits of this and bits of that), could be assembled. Our big problem was tyres, because only tyres with big holes could be found. We soon started to cut tyres into bits that could be inserted over the holes in "good" tyres, and rode on from there. We often rode over to Hassocks, where George was formerly fostered, to visit a friend of his called Doughty. Anyone wishing to get in touch could e-mail me at regreen@optonline.net, in New Jersey, USA, where I now live.

By Robert (Bob) Green (14/02/2008)

As a kid I remember Ronnie George although I was a little kid when he was grown up. I remember all of the Georges from Bennett Road and I also remember that Jimmy always had a smiley face as did most of the George family. They were a very nice family when I was a kid and would always say hello if you spoke to them, even to a whippersnapper like me. So many memories from that time.  Best wishes from number 35 Bennett Road.

By Michael Peirson (20/07/2008)

I lived at 58 Bennett Road in the 1980s and remember the fish and chip shop on the corner of Rugby Place, would it have been the same one? The husband and wife would always be arguing, it was so funny. There was a wool shop just up from Bennett Road - wool shops, what ever happened to them?

By Philippa Lane (24/10/2008)

I lived at 2 Bennett Road with my brother Paul, from 1944 to 1952 when we moved up one street to Princes Terrace. The shop was an ice-cream shop before we moved there, then it was empty until the Thompsons took over. I don't ever remember it being a bike shop - maybe before my time. I have very fond memories of Bennett Road. Princes Terrace was good but didn't have the same friendliness. I remember Phillip Mansfield very well as we went to St Mark's together, and a lot of the names on this page are very familiar. Wonderful days and a great place to live. I have now lived in Kent for 34 years but am very glad I spent my youth in Brighton, and my formative years in Bennett Road.

By Carole Henty (nee Thayre) (15/01/2009)

I remember Carol and Paul Thayre living at the Bristol Gardens end of Bennett Road. The ice cream factory was a good source of some ice cream if you stayed looking in the window long enough. Many times a lady would come out with some ice cream for the kids. The bike shop came after the Thompsons moved to another shop in Whitehawk Road called the "Essential Stores". A chap called Bert Summers and his wife June rented the shop from the Thompsons and repaired and hired out bikes for the day. Bert's main job was at Gatwick airport where he went every day on his motorbike, and borrowed mine once when his was not working. Best wishes.

By Mick Peirson (10/04/2011)

I grew up in the "next road down" - Rugby Place, living there from about 1942 until leaving Whitehawk Secondary School in 1952, when we moved to Peel Road. I have a group photo of most of the children in the street on the occasion of the VE Day Party in 1945. I would like to submit this to the site, but preferably under the heading of Rugby Place, which I regarded as far more alive and important than Bennett Road ever was.

By Brian Hatley (23/06/2011)

I moved to Bennett Road just after the war had finished and lived there until 1968 when I married. They were great times although we were all quite poor. I remember the Peirsons at 35, there was Michael the eldest, Pip his sister and Tony(Totty) his younger brother. I knocked about with Ivor Charman from 45, Mickey George from 57 and Ken and Jeff Macklin from 29 and many more from the street. We played a lot in the road, football with a tennis ball, cricket, tag and of course marbles and hopscotch. Our favourite play areas were East Brighton Park,the Lizard field next to Marine Gate and Black Rock swimming pool. I had a paper round at Allens in Whitehawk Rd and received 10 bob a week. Ivor and and I went to Whitehawk School which was a bit of an eye opener after St. Marks juniors. Unfortunately Ivor died about three years ago but I'm sure there must be some people out there who remember me and my sister Angela. 

By Tony Austin (25/07/2011)

Hi Tony, yes I remeber you and Angela very well. Also your Mum and Dad and Trixie the dog. I stayed in touch with your Mum for many years and I was writing to her up to a few years ago, but I stopped getting replies - so assumed she must have passed away. I lived at 39. Hope you and Angela are both well. Best wishes - Sue Hobbs (nee Cobbett).

By Sue Hobbs (nee Cobbett) (04/08/2011)

So glad to see that Tony Austin has left a comment. Hello Tony, and also hello to Angela. Tony has just told it how it was in those times. We were poor, but we were extremely happy at the same time. We had our childhood differences of course but on the whole we knocked about all over the place together in harmony. Very sad that Ivor has passed away, he was one of our playmates as were the other names mentioned. Time has whizzed by hasn't it? I hope that in the future other of our friends will see the site and get to remind us all how we were. Best wishes, Mike Peirson.

By Mick Peirson (05/08/2011)

My wife Jo and I have just recently started to keep chickens. This brought to mind a dear old couple who lived at number 47 Bennett Road when I was a kid. They were Mr. and Mrs Dale. They kept chickens and also ducks. It was a weekly ritual to take a bucket of kitchen scraps to Mr. Dale for his poultry. In return we kids got a couple of sweets. Sometimes we were lucky and got an egg or two for our trouble. At about the same time, when I was about seven years of age, I committed a foolish act for which I got a good seeing to from a big Rooster. One of the houses in Princes Terrace had chickens at the bottom of the garden. One day being a naive kid, I stole an egg from the coop. I was proudly walking back to the rear of my house to jump over the back wall as we called it, when this rooster started chasing me. He caught me just before I scrambled over the wall. I had some lovely scratches on my legs from his spurs. My mum made me take the (unbroken) egg back to the house where I had taken it from and apologise. This I tearily did, (via the front door in case the rooster was about) and was given said egg for my honesty. It was a while before I ventured over the back wall again afeared of meeting the rooster again, (and of him recognising me).

By Mick Peirson (13/10/2011)

It was so interesting to read some of the feedback after I added some memories of Bennett Rd. Hello to Sue Hobbs nee Cobbet. Yes my sister Angela and I remember you well and your mum and dad. If I'm correct I think your mum was part of the Powell family who were founder members of Whitehawk FC. My mum always had a soft spot for you and I think you used to join us on Black Rock beach after school. The beach and the pool have both gone because of the Marina development, very sad. Mum died 5yrs ago at the age of 91 and she was still very perky right to the end. I also remember your next door neighbours the Norris's and their son Robert. I once broke one of their windows with a ball or a stone ,by accident of course and I got in lots of trouble over that.  Best wishes Sue from myself and Angela.

By Tony Austin (21/11/2011)

Lovely to hear back from you Tony and to know what happened to your Mum. She was a lovely lady and we wrote to each other right up until she died - she always wanted news and pictures of my grandchildren. I used to spend a lot of time at your house when I was younger and loved the greenhouse with the newts in it. I think it was the Dales who lived next door to you wasn't it? Yes I did use to join you on the beach after school. If I remember correctly you and Angela used to spend a lot of time at the swimming pool. My Dad used to go down to Black Rock every Sunday and take a photo of the development of the Marina - I still have the set of slides. Yes my Mum was part of the Powell family - sadly very few of them left now. Ron who used to run Whitehawk FC is no longer with us, also his son Ken who was involved with the club has passed away. His younger son David is still O.K. I remember the incident with the Norris' window - I always thought it was a stone. Best wishes to you and Angela. 

By Sue Hobbs (nee Cobbett) (10/04/2012)

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