Monday, 29 August 2016

Tale of a Lavender Street resident.

A glimpse of the lives of working people in Brighton before and during the second world war.

Part of the old Lavender Street.

Ron was born around 1925 and spent a 'poor but happy' childhood in Lavender Street. His father worked for the Parks Department on a casual basis and income was erratic and weather dependent. They were often so poor that his mother would pawn his Sunday suit during the week hoping to redeem it in time for Sunday school the next weekend. If she failed, he would be sent off to spend the day on the beach instead. 

They moved to Sloane Street (now demolished) between the corporation yard (now the telephone exchange) and the primary school. When his mother got behind with the rent, the bailiffs were sent in and the house was boarded up while Ron was at school and his mother out at work. On returning home she borrowed a hammer from a neighbour and got Ron to climb over the back wall and break in. They settled themselves into the house again. This happened more than once.

During the war, Ron’s mother had a job painting bridges on the railway. Ron would have been around 15 when a string of bombs hit Kemp Town and the area was badly damaged. A girl who Ron was keen on was killed at the baker’s shop where she worked. He joined the army and, as a very tall and imposing soldier, was always put on guard duty. He told the story of guarding the entrance to the railway station on Trafalgar Street with a rifle with no ammunition and a wobbly bayonet. When an officer came down the dark stairs, Ron challenged him with the customary ‘Halt! Who goes there!” only to find his bayonet had fallen out of his rifle.
Ron went on to join the sweep across Europe into Germany after the Normandy invasion.

In peacetime he worked as a butcher at Sainsbury’s in Portslade for many years until a heart attack and by-pass surgery slowed him down and eventually he retired. He had an allotment after the war, first on Whitehawk Hill Road and then when the site was cleared to build the Catholic School there, he was moved to the Whitehawk allotment site. He spent a couple of hours every day on his allotment plot in all weathers, 'keeping out from under his wife's feet'  until he could no longer climb the steep hill to it. He died in 2015.
Contributed by Andrew Doig.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Lavender Street; then & now

56 & 58 Lavender Street. On the corner of Warwick Street which no longer exists. Sept 1970 
The same area in Lavender Street today.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

St. Michael's Way


St. Michael is the name, chosen by travellers, that has been given to the city's first official travellers' site. Built over the last 2 years it has provided 12 new permanent pitches and 21 transit pitches at a cost of £70,000 per pitch, 74% of which was met by the Government. A significant proportion of that cost was probably absorbed in the expensive business of connecting up to the main drainage in Vale Avenue. This involved tunnelling under the A27. 

Transit pitches to the left; permanent to the right

Permanent pitches and community facilities.
Each permanent pitch consists of space for a static caravan and other vehicles, and an amenity block which includes a kitchen, bathroom and dayroom. The site also includes a management building for the council’s Traveller Liaison Team.

The pitches have all been allocated to Traveller families with a local connection  who will sign a lease, pay rent, council tax and other bills. Many of these previously occupied spaces on the transit site.


Transit pitches
The Council have a legal requirement to provide official sites for Gypsy and Traveller communities. They claim the freed-up transit pitches will help deal with unauthorised encampments in the city, as they can now request the police to use their powers under Section 62a to direct Travellers with the most need onto vacant pitches.

The site has only recently opened, so it is early days, but one wonders if it can possibly have any influence on the large number of summer travellers.  This influx is said to sometimes reach over 100 in number, many in expensive vehicles.  Will they be persuaded to move from free, comfortable, manicured, central parks, or the seafront, to the dull, northern outskirts? Presumably it all depends on the input of our over-stretched police force.

Friday, 12 August 2016

A new plaque for Harriot Mellon.

The new plaque reprises the exact wording of the one it replaces.
A single plaque can hardly do this remarkable woman justice. Born to travelling players she became an actress herself and at Duke Street Theatre attracted the attention of Thomas Coutts of royal bank fame. She later married him and when he died inherited his entire fortune including the bank. In 1827 she married the then 9th Duke of St. Albans and her Brighton property, 131 Kings Road, became known as St. Albans House. She died in 1837. 


The previous plaque placed on the building in the 1970s had become heavily weathered and, following a recent refurbishment of the Regency Restaurant and Beach Hotel, the owners, Emilio and Rovertos Savvides were keen to upgrade the plaque to the more prestiguous and eye-catching design in blue and white ceramic.

The plaque was unveiled by the present Duke of St. Albans in the presence of the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Mo Marsh, and past Mayor, Mayoress and Aldermen.

L - R: Emilio Savvides; Roger Amerena; Deputy Mayor; Duchess of St. Albans; Duke of St.Albans.