Hollingbury Road

Photo:Hollingbury Road

Hollingbury Road

From the private collection of Joy Whittam

One of the first of the 'Fiveways'

By Joy Whittam and Deborah Fleming (this article first appeared in the Hollingdean News, independent community newsletter).

The houses in Hollingbury Road, some three storeyed, were built from about 1886 and represent development over many decades. Given its close proximity to the Dust Destructor chimney burning the town's household waste, the abattoir, and steam laundries this was probably not the most fashionable part of town! Many of its first residents had occupations which reflected the kind of local industries including a builder, green grocer, dairyman and several laundresses.

Grand Victorian occupants
Page's Directory for 1887 lists just four 'Villas' in the road worthy of having a postal address, a Surgeon and a Count among the somewhat grander occupants. Curiously the census of 1891 reveals no record of Hollingbury Road, although the road itself and several properties appear on maps from the late 1890's. The 1901 census shows an increase in households with house numbering now up to 41.

A resident in the first decades of the 1900's recalled that the surface of Hollingbury Road was made up of rolled flint "spread over the chalk base with a mixture of marble, plenty of water and a heavy roller". This type of road gave a good grip for horses' hooves but needed to be damped down with sprayed water to reduce the dust during summer months. Horse drawn vehicles and bicycles were the heaviest traffic, allowing children the freedom of playing in the road.

A child's view from the 1940's
This lack of motor traffic lasted into more recent memory - a local resident Jane, whose family lived at 107 Hollingbury Road from 1942- 44, remembers as a small child being able to easily cross all the roads at the Fiveways junction. She did however get knocked down by a bicycle when running across the road to visit a friend at "Vine Cottage" a bungalow hidden behind Hollingbury Road - the friend's garden providing the land which much later became Adams Close.

For some years Smiths Clocks had a factory occupying land on the west side of Hollingbury Road, (now the site of  Ditchling Gardens and Place). During the Second World War production expanded due to the demand for aircraft and marine instruments and Numbers 105 and 107 were commandeered as offices, with Jane's family and the neighbours, having to move out.

Making clocks for Spitfires
Jane remembers the girls working in the factory "making clocks for Spitfires" waving to her and her brother. Living near a tall chimney like the Dust Destructor in war time was not without risk, as from the air its function might not have been apparent. One day at no.107, a young Jane thought she heard an aeroplane coming overhead  - "the plane was flying so low that when it dropped the bomb on the Dust Destructor it went in one side and out the other and so didn't do any damage to the chimney!" Jane also recalls seeing a gun emplacement positioned on top of the Co-op building at Fiveways.

The beginnings of the Artists' Open Houses
In 1980 Ned Hoskins, an artist, moved into no. 8 at the bottom end of the road at a time when "a lot of the houses were divided up into flats and many were in poor condition." He restored his own property with the intention of opening the top floors of his house to show some of his paintings to the public. This was a great success and the following year he was joined by other artists showing their art works in his house. Gradually other artists opened up their own house and so began the Fiveways Open Houses now involving over 200 artists houses locally and a hugely popular part of the annual Brighton festival. Through this Ned has made many friends in the road and contributed an interesting chapter to the history of  Hollingbury Road.

This page was added on 09/06/2007.
Comments about this page

My first job, at just turned 14, was at the "Smith's" factory in Hollingbury road, in January, 1937, only then it was an old wooden building at the back of the houses on the west side, near the top, and was called Pullar's Instruments. Instruments such as barometers were made there, with "innards" imported from Germany and Czechoslovakia. The preferred way to get from our house at the top of Freshfield Road to the Pullars factory was to walk, taking about half an hour each way. I had been pushed out of St Luke's Senior Boys School, educated or not, after attaining my 14th birthday in the previous November, though I signed on for further education (mechanical engineering) at nightschool, in the Intermediate school building opposite St. Peter's Church. At Pullars I was taught how to sweep up, how to smoke cigarettes, who was Cab Calloway, and what was scat singing. I also learned how to cut thick wire with a hacksaw and how to make a thread on the cut end. In February however, my mother decided I was not going to learn anything worthwhile and she took me out to the Southdown bus overhaul facility on Victoria Road, Portslade, where she signed me up as an "apprentice" to learn engine fitting. Like Pullars, this job paid two pence (tuppence or 2d) an hour, for a 48-hour week, so that I ended up with seven shillings and tenpence a week, tuppence having beeen deducted for unemployment insurance. I often wondered what happened to all those tuppences. When I gave my pay packet to my mother she opened it and gave me back two shillings for myself, the rest being retained for my "keep."

By Robert Green (09/07/2007)

My Grandparents lived here for 40+ years at No 146. If anyone remembers the Verlander family I would be delighted to hear from you. cjver@aol.com

By Clare (30/07/2009)

I lived permanently with my Nan Florence Annie Ray at 55 Hollingbury Road between 1952 and 1956; although was there during war time around 1943 also. I remember a plane was shot down and landed in the top of a chimney down the road at the abbatoir. Also Peter Puppets who used to throw rejects out into our garden, and Mr Capelin a steam engine driver letting me have a ride on the footplate of a West Country Class Engine between London and Brighton.

By Tony Stevens (20/12/2011)

I remember often walking up this road in the 50s where lived a friend from work (Brighton Herald). I often wonder what became of him. We were both compositors (the title by which hot metal typesetters were known, before computers). He was very artistic and musical, and played drums/bass for his father who headed a dance trio. He also had a lovely sister named Diana and they all lived with their Nan at number..? Oh my goodness, just seen the previous comment! Tony, would be great to hear from you.

By Brian Hatley (02/03/2013)

Hey Brian, was so good to see your comments on Hollingbury Road - have so much to remember with you and lots to share together, am a little strapped for time to comment at this point but will get back to you as soon as possible. I will never forget visiting your house too and your Mum used to make the most amazing cup of tea that I have ever tasted using green cap milk! I am living in Portsmouth now but still treasure fantastic memories of Brighton.

By Tony Stevens (19/05/2013)

Tony, what a surprise! As you say, there's so much to remember and too much to discuss here. I gave my email address above but it gets omitted, which of course I understand, since it's not meant to be another Friends Reunited website. Having said that, I see many other pages where people have managed to do it. I just can't think of any other way we can make contact? I moved to Reading in 1994, but also live at Hove (my old print shop on the corner, which you once visited in the 60s). An enquiry there would reach me! By the way, look at the Rugby Place page where I can be seen (looking rather glum!) at Bottom Right Hand corner in the VE Day Street Party photo. [Hello Brian. Leave your email address and I will add it to the page. Just be mindful that it will be available to anyone across the Globe to use! Best wishes, editing team] 

By Brian Hatley (28/06/2013)

Hi Brian, I understand all you say about contact addresses, but we'll find a way somehow - by golly you did look glum in that photo. Did you continue playing piano? -I thought you would do well at that. What was the name of that Print Shop in Hove? I used to enjoy visits to your house. I can't remember where we first met though! ( Guess at 72 we get brain overload) nice to hear from you though!

By Tony Stevens (03/07/2013)

Dear Brian, of course Brighton & Hove Herald days, it's all coming back to me now. Mr Tester MD, poor shell shocked Mr Osborne shouting 'stand by your beds', Mr Wicks the Stone Hand, Mr Bean and the snuff box ritual, Harry Waller my foreman. Do you remember me dropping the four section case of 6pt Spartan (still have my old composing stick)? They put me in the Art Studio then with Pater Saunders who was a wonderful man and brilliant artist from Highdown Road, Hove, who made such an impact on my life and career. I often wonder what became of his wife Lilly, his young son and daughters Ruth and Jill.

By Tony Stevens (04/07/2013)

Tony, the name of that print shop in Hove was a somewhat clumsy "The Express Printing Services"! I changed it pretty quickly to just "Express Printing Services" through Registrar of Business Names at a cost of five shillings I believe. Plus I had to display the certificate in a prominent place at the premises. Those were the days when printers had to put their imprint at the bottom of any advertising or political handbills etc! You can find the address with minimal detective work, since it operated until around 1983.  I certainly remember all the names you mentioned. Like you, although some years before, I was put in the Art Studio with Peter Saunders. He had a co-worker (can't recall her name) who was virtually deaf. Never met Peter's family, but somehow I found myself helping him at a Church Hall (like a Sunday School) that existed on the Broadway in Whitehawk Road. This is all quite boring for people interested in Hollingbury Road, so I will just hope that we can continue reminiscing elsewhere. For anyone who would like to contact me I have made a new email for the purpose: gleamingglee@yahoo.co.uk

By Brian Hatley (15/07/2013)

Hi Brian. Thanks for details and recollections of our time at Brighton Herald. Peter Saunder's partner in the studio was a lady called Marion Oram who named her son 'Dick' instead of Dec!  As I lived in Hollingbury Road whilst at Stanmer School, the science teacher asked me to pick up some bulls eyes from the abbatoir at the bottom of Hollingbury. I waited to open the box on the bus, much to the horror of the passengers seeing all these eyes looking out at us! My girlfriend then was Ann Underwood who lived near Stanford Avenue Methodist Church, just down from Five Ways.

By Tony Stevens (17/07/2013)

Does anyone remember Mr Sladen's greengrocery at Five Ways? I used to do a greengrocery round there on Saturdays for 3 shillings & 6 pence, riding a very heavy load up and down the hills on a bike with a large loading rack over a small wheel in front and large one at the back. My nan had a big orchard at 55 Hollingbury that my sister Diana and I used to hide in, which is now a row of bungalows I believe! Such a shame, as that had 20 or 30 apple and pear trees in it yielding lots of fruit that we used to sell from our side entrance.

By Tony Stevens (19/07/2013)

I was born 1939 living in Stanmer Park Rd and can remember the rotating machine gun post on the top of the Co-op at Five ways also the Police Box at the junction. It was here I had my first brush with Law after breaking a window in our Road.

By Alan Fry (10/11/2014)

The first house we bought in 1968 was in Hollingbury Road. I enjoyed reading the correspondence on Brighton Herald where I worked through the '60s and remember most of those mentioned.

By Alan Buchanan (24/03/2016)

Hi there, Peter Puppet was our Grandfather Sidney Smythe. He lived across from the pier with his partner Sonya Leeson. Does anyone remember them?

By Hilary Laverick (14/02/2017)

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