Springfield Road

71 Springfield Road

Childhood memories of the 1950s

By Phil Allsopp

I was born in Brighton at the Buckingham Road Maternity Hospital in September 1949.  The building is still there apparently but the maternity services aren't.  My parents, my maternal grandmother and my great aunt (grandmother's sister) all lived at 71 Springfield Road.

Springfield Road
We lived on the large semi-detached, north side of Springfield Road; our house faced the Springfield Hotel and the north entrance to London Road Station. Dad worked for Southdown for thirty years. Mum was a seamstress at Stuarts, a small family owned ladies garments business, located next door to the pub at the intersection of Cheapside and London Road.

Photo:Springfield Hotel photographed from the north entrance to London Road Station

Springfield Hotel photographed from the north entrance to London Road Station

From the private collection of Phil Allsopp

A close shave with the Wolsely
Looking back on it, I think there were definitely huge benefits of living in a multi-generational household. As we all do, I have some vague memories from very early childhood days that involved the house and the neighbourhood. There was the time I let the hand brake off my Dad's Wolseley car, and it started to roll down the street. It was probably only a few feet but it felt a lot longer. I was sat in the passenger seat and Dad had to jump in to bring the car to a halt.

Dodge City on the lawn

The house seemed vast, as did our back yard which had quite high flint and brick walls, on the east and north side. There was a great pear tree in the corner and gooseberry and red currant bushes next to the back of the house.  In between was a huge lawn - so it seemed to me as s small child. In my imagination it would eventually be turned into 'Tombstone', 'Dodge City', the 'Rocky Mountains', 'Wembley Stadium' or 'Lords Cricket Ground'.  Seeing the back yard as it is today - a tiny parking lot at the back of a small block of apartments, it is a very modest size.

This page was added on 23/07/2009.
Comments about this page
Hi Phil, my name is Sandra. Thanks for your story about your youth. My 'wow' moment was when you mentioned the Stuarts. Unbelievable! I used to visit them with my grandmother. She had been friends with them for a while I presume, and when it was time for a new coat that's where we would go. It is possible I had a coat from them too but only if it had been made at the back by loving hands. For me it was quite an adventure. I was born in '46 so loved all the more modern things as I grew older ie. jeans and very short skirts. The Stuarts however were still living in the '20s and '30s. Long black dresses, long pointed black shoes, very plain hair too. Interesting smells of lavender or similar. They were always so kind and enjoyed my visits. We always had tea and a sit down chat. Then Grandma would try on some coats for us all to view. I never remember seeing anyone else in the shop on those occasions and wondered how they managed to survive. I can remember two sisters, one of which was called Mary. I believe she was the shorter of the two. The other was very tall and willowy. Then there was a third one who was poorly in bed and we were invited to go up and visit her on one occassion. In recent months, since finding this web, I have thought about the Stuarts and wondered if anyone else even knew about them at all. As a teenager of 15 I left school, and went into the fashion trade. At 17 went to work at Constables, also a clothing shop for ladies about five doors along from the Stuarts in York Place, towards St. Peter's church. My grandmother lived in Shaftesbury Road. The other side of the railway line to you.Thanks for the memories.
By Sandra (23/07/2009)
Eric:was the christian name of your grandmother Jane and was your mum's name either Maisy or Kath? if so I think we might be related. My e-mail address is rogersturt@sbcglobal.net
By Roger Sturt (27/07/2009)

During the 1950s and 1960s my paternal grandparents lived with their three dogs at 176, Springfield Road, on the south side about half way between the Hotel and Ditchling Road. Their house was an enormous old detached villa with a large back garden, at the foot of which was the railway line cutting between London Road Station and the Ditchling Road tunnel. As we lived nearby in Prince's Crescent, I spent quite a lot of time there in the 1950s as a small boy, often craning my neck over their back garden fence to catch a glimpse of a train passing, especially a rare steamer on a goods to Kemp Town. The house itself was large and dusty, but I didn't get to see much of it: my grandparents spent most of their time in the small parlour next to the kitchen, sitting in ancient overstuffed armchairs and listening to a huge old radio set with a mahogany cabinet, glowing valves and a massive speaker. Recent visits show that the house is now apartments, and the street is permanently lined with parked cars on both sides. Back in the 1950s there was hardly a car to be seen. Otherwise the street has changed very little in half a century.

By Len Liechti (05/08/2009)

Sandra: Thanks very much for your note. Marvelous memories. By the way, Roger Sturt and I have reconnected. We're second cousins and are both living in the USA (he in Chicago and me in Scottsdale). We connected in person today, August 10, 2009. Thank you, My Brightghtonandhove.com Phil Amazing grace. From a very un-religious (or even irreligious) Phil Allsopp in Scotssdale, Arizona, USA.

By Phil Allsopp (11/08/2009)

Sandra: How times flies. One additional thought regarding Stuarts popped into my mind. The older brother at Stuarts was named Donald. He was a very gentle man. He had a very hard time of it when he was drafted in 1918 to France. His older sister - the very tall and willowy one - was Christobel. Right next to the tiny cash payment window that Donald would man at the right moment was a small alcove that had a picture of the Charge of the Light Brigade with a medal beneath it. One of the Stuarts' forebears was in the Crimean War. The person upstairs was the mother of Donald, Mary and Christobel. She was 100 years old when I was about 3 or 4 (1952-1953) and got a telegram from the newly crowned Queen. Old Mrs Stuart had a green felt card table at the end of her bed. I used to be fascinated by a small brass hemisphere-like device that had a plunger on top that you pushed down on to get the next "trumps" card appearing in an open segment of the hemisphere. I still have the Charles Dickens novels that the Stuarts gave me over the course of several Christmases. Thanks for jogging my memory again.

By Phil Allsopp (17/05/2010)

Hallo Phil, isn't it interesting how the memory works? I had completely forgotten the brother Donald but as soon as I read your words I could see him so clearly. I do believe he was not as present at the times I was taken to visit but his whole demeaner and his gentleness completely came back to me. He was also rather tall and willowy as I remember but we were small then. And, yes, it was the mother upstairs. I had forgatten that. It is also possible I met your mother at one time or another. Part of the service in those days was to call the seamstress out when a garment needed some alteration. She would then proceed to pin and tuck the areas such as the sleeves shortening or a dart or two at the waist and a date would be made for you to go back in a week or so to try the garment on again. I would be fascinated to learn more as and when you remember. It is even possible you and I met. Ever thought about that? I am just ahead of you as I would have been six in 1952. In fact the more I think about this I am certain it is not fantasy but more likely than not that I really remember you. If you would like to add anything to this story privately my email address is; themossfairy@cooptel.net Meanwhile, thank you for all you have shared and all best wishes.

By Sandra (19/06/2010)

This is for Phil Allsop. You say you lived at 71 Springfield Rd. My Grandmother lived at 73! Mrs Edith Preston? I'm sure you would remember her as most people in that vicinity knew her! I do remember if the ball came over into her garden she wouldn't give it back! Her husband, my Grandfather, was a well known artist in the town, Lawrence Peston,he died in 1960. Do you remember Oakley's opposite on the corner, a grocers store, next door Miss Gander, sweet shop, a very dingy grubby shop with mice running along the shelves! I think there could have been a butchers next to that, not too sure. She lived there until she died in 1977. My sister and I then sold the house which was turned into flats, as with most of those lovely houses in the street. We did have happy times there as children in that big old house.

By Jennifer Parker (16/06/2011)

I used to live at 86a, with my mum and dad and grandmother. It was a 3 room semi-basement flat, with an 'area' (I don't know why it was called that). My grandmother and her two daughters moved there in the late 1930's to early 1940's. Our next door neighbours were Stan, Bea and daughter Valerie. They lived in the semi-basement also and grandparents, Mr and Mrs Bedford, lived above. A school teacher lived further down on our side, a Miss Nicholls. Mr and Mrs Veness lived opposite with some 'Guardian' girls living with them. My friend Valerie lived with her mother and step-father further down the road on the opposite side, Arthur and Eileen Smith with Eileen's parents. We played in their 'huge' back garden making tents with old blankets and our dolls. Such a difference to the little back yard we had with our flat. We were always having pipes burst and waking up in the morning to water over the kitchen floor. More neighbours on our side of the road were the Normans, Gillespies, West, Beavis. I remember spending my pocket money in Miss Gander's shop. My cousins and I would buy magic painting books and magic pictures books. Yes, it did smell of mice, but I don't remember seeing any. I was probably too young to notice. I remember her wearing her flowery overall. Always kind.

By Pat Salmon (21/08/2011)

I am researching for my family tree and saw your postings. Does anyone remember the Maplesden family? I believe they lived in Springfield Road, Brighton in the 1950s. If anyone has any info I would appreciate your help. Thanks Brenda.

By Brenda (26/03/2012)

Hi Brenda, we lived in No 94 Springfield Rd, we lived in the top flat, my mum's maiden name was Maplesden. We lived there from 1948 to 1954. She had a five sisters and three brothers and they all lived in Brighton, my brother and me have done a lot of work on the Maplesden Family. Our Grandparents were Albert Victor and Anna Mary Maplesden, if the family matches maybe I could give you some info, Mary.

By Mary Smith (nee Gillespie) (28/10/2012)

Brenda, I thought I would leave my email address, please contact me if you wish. emtesmith@yahoo.co.uk

By Mary Smith (nee Gillespie) (09/11/2012)

I left a message on the 'Springfield Road' page, as a Brenda was looking for the Maplesden family which was my mother's name. Is there any way you could leave a message for her as I have a lot of the family information. Many thanks

By Mary T Smith (03/07/2013)

During WWII my dad was drafted into the coal mines up in County Durham as a Bevin Boy. While away, our street Dyke Rd Drive, was badly hit during a raid on the Viaduct and railway yards above us; all the roofs up the road were damaged badly and mum and my brother Philip were moved out to a room at 9 Springfield Road, just opposite Dyke Rd Drive. Dad came home on leave and the first night a load of French Canadian troops further up the road were having a wild party and very loud! Dad flew out the house with the intention of 'sorting them out' closely followed by my mum clinging on to him who did not want my little dad confronting enormous French Canadian lumberjacks!

By Geoffrey Mead (04/07/2013)

Jennifer Parker, I must have overlooked your comment but I certainly remember you - and didn't you have a sister named Wendy(?).  And how could I not remember your grandmother?  I recall for some reason that she had a Lancashire accent.  And as far as the balls not being returned I definitely remember that too.  Looking back on it, it's quite comical.  I remember her telling my mother (as she pointed to me when I was possibly 7 or 8 years old) that "That...should have been drowned at birth..."  hilarious.  Your grandfather's ability as a water colourist  was greatly admired by my parents and grandparents. I do remember Oakley's and of course Miss Gander's shop with its mice and musty sweets jars...there was always a faint aroma of cheese as I recall.  It's a pity that those grand old semi-detached houses got turned into flats.
Sorry for the late reply...hope you are well.

By Phil Allsopp (16/04/2014)

Jane Purnell, I received your email but when I answered it, it said the email address was incomplete.  Just to let you know - Tom Maplesden was my mum's brother, I put info regarding him in my email, so I'm hoping you check the web site and can send me an email address so I can contact you again.  Regards Mary

By Mary T Smith (03/04/2015)

Mary T Smith, I have sent you two more emails with the correct email address. Thank you for replying. Kind regards

By Jane Purnell (15/04/2015)

No mention of Beaconsfield Villas for a while but I can claim to have lived on the corner of Springfield Road and Beaconsfield Road all through the War and used to walk up the Villas on my way to Varndean School. I bet today's kids wouldn't dream of walking all that way!
The trams went right by my bedroom window and made a terrible clatter. What a relief when they were replaced by the trolley buses in 1939. The tram rails were laid in wooden blocks which were strewn about when the rails were taken up. I was sent out with a shopping bag to retrieve as many as I could to burn on the fire!
Looking at contemporary photos, the scene hasn't changed much since those days and I'm sure Roger would instantly recognise it.

By Chris Strick (09/02/2016)

Hi Chris interesting that you lived on the corner of Springfield Road and Beaconsfield Road as I did too! I lived at Number 50 between approx 1959 and 1980. I also used to walk to school at Dorothy Stringer and later Varndean up the south face of Beaconsfield Villas. On rare occasions I'd treat myself to a bus trip on the 46 but saving bus fare for a portion of chips was a more attractive option.  Out of interest which number did you live at?

By Martin Scrace (02/03/2016)

Hello Martin. I remember your family name - maybe older brothers or even the generation before! I lived at number 48 from about 1938 to 1953. In No. 50 was a family called Budd. The son, Bob went to Varndean and was very sporting, I recall. His younger sister, Pat, died unhappily while she was quite young. It was a nice quiet road in those days.

By Chris Strick (04/03/2016)

Hi Chris. My parents bought the property from a friend's father who I guess bought it from the Budds. They were the Brownjohns and they also owned the garage adjoining No.50. Ron Brownjohn managed the garage for many years and my parents (well into their 80s) still keep in touch with Ron's brother Don who lived at 100 Springfield Road.

By Martin Scrace (08/03/2016)

Hi Martin. I used to live at 19 Springfield Road, diagonally across from you, across Beaconsfield Road. I think we used to play occasionally. And I remember Ron Brownjohn and your dad Arthur Scrace. I was there from 1951-1960. I bought a C15 trials bike  when I was 18 yrs, Ron Brownjohn too so he was still there then.

By Ronald Edmonds (10/03/2016)

Hi Ronald. Just round the corner from you, in Beaconsfield Road, Fred Root had a second-hand furniture shop. It was full of interesting bits and pieces. On fine days his wife used to sit outside the shop in an ancient arm chair and chat to passers-by. They had a daughter, Pat, who I believe emigrated to Canada.

By Chris Strick (20/03/2016)

I lived at 118a Springfield Road from 1949 to 1958 with my parents George and Peggy Green and my younger brother Brian.  I think we have been in contact before, Phil, and our fathers were drinking companions in the Springfield.  I have a photo of a coach outing to a show at the ice rink, I think, which I will try and upload at some point.  I bought a Lambretta from Brownjohn's - he was at Balfour Road School with my mother.

By Terry Green (20/03/2016)

My dad and family also used the Springfield pub when we lived at 170, from 1953 to 1964.  Dad was in the darts team and played Old Father Time at New Year.  I remember going to the old ice rink on the coach, and my Dad may have been the driver, if it was a Unique Coach, as he drove the ice rink excursions most years.  Can you post a copy of the photograph of the ice rink outing on here please Terry?

By Mary Funnell (14/08/2016)

How interesting, we lived in the semi-basement @ 92 Springfield Road in the 40s I remember Oakleys and Miss Gander very well, happy days.

By Audrey Norman (17/09/2016)

Terry Green:  Indeed we have some years ago via email - time flies far too fast.  Happy days in many ways and I do remember your Dad very well.  As you said, he and my Dad were drinking buddies at the Springfield.  Hope you are well.

By Phil Allsopp (19/04/2017)

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