Les Wilson memories of Bevendean
|Les Wilson lived at 9 Manton Road when he was a child, this photograph of him was taken in 1944.
When we moved up there in 1930 the farm had a field that came right down to the end of Manton road. Before that we lived at 30 Nesbit Road which was where I was born.
They used to put up tennis nets in the summer at the top end of the Avenue.
The farm used to have 3 haystacks, when they cut the hay they put it in haystacks. They used to take them down one at a time. There was a kiddie who lived up there, he didn’t live on the farm but somewhere close to the field, and he told us when they were taking the last one down and we went up there ratting. All the rats used to go into the last haystack, and the men had dogs and they used to kill the rats. The farmer used to plough the fields with horses. (This was Frank John Allcorn.)
The old chappie in charge of the building work, the night watchman, had a hut at the bottom of Manton road where the telephone box is now, because they were still building the houses in Manton road. The houses finished at the end of Manton road and in a similar position on the other side of The Avenue. Then they joined us up with the other estate, the estate on the hill. They put steps up at the side of 123 The Avenue, just where Upper Bevendean Avenue starts now. The steps go up to what used to be called Higher Bevendean. Before the war I remember we lay on the roof of a shed where the footballers changed so that we could look at the stars.
During the war I met my mate and we were photographed on those steps. I am on the left and Dougie Evans is on the right, in one photo and that’s me on the left and Freddie Evans on the right in the other photo. We happened to come home on leave at the same time. Dougie’s got the dark hat and Freddie’s got the light hat, as he had been abroad. Freddie had been to the Middle East. We met and took a photograph on those steps, it must have been during the war or thereabouts this is on the steps that go from Lower Bevendean up to Higher Bevendean. These are the steps which start where the shops are now.
The steps that go up on the other side of The Avenue just below Manton road were known as the chick run. You wouldn’t know it now, but it was called the chick run because it had chickens all the way down the side of it. It was only a path then, it wasn’t steps. The steps were built afterwards, I think there are 114. The chick run became known as Jacob’s ladder.
After that they built Upper and Lower Bevendean Avenues and left the middle part empty. I don’t know if Braybons built your houses (Lower Bevendean Avenue). I don’t remember, but as a child we just used to play amongst it. They didn’t have metal poles; they only had wooden poles tied together for the scaffolding.
I remember the prefabs up there. I was away at the time they started to put them up, they didn’t half bunged them up. I don’t remember seeing people working on the prefabs because I was away at the time. This was when I was working in the mines I didn’t come home till 13 September.
The field at the back of you (Lower Bevendean Avenue) they used to plough up, it used to have poppies in it, in the green area where Plymouth Avenue is now.
I remember the farm, we used to go up and watch them milking where the church was. I didn’t know that the road was called Juggs Lane, when we used to walk down to the farm. To get to the farm we used to walk up from Manton Road to Juggs Lane and then walk along the lane to the farm, down the old path past where Auntie Ruby and Uncle Jim used to live, (24 Plymouth Avenue) it was the quickest way to get there.
We used to play in the cow field, there was a dew pond, up there, which is still there going up towards Falmer. It didn’t hold water when I was there. (The dew pond has been repaired and now holds water; there are sheep on the bank opposite us now to bring the Downland back to what it used to be like.)
They put sheep on the fields behind St Dunstan’s, it doesn’t half help, they clear the ground right down and then the other stuff comes up.
I didn’t know Norman Allcorn but I knew of him, he was younger than me. I knew another young lad who was up there in the 1930s that was before your houses were built (Lower Bevendean Avenue) because then the field came right down to Manton Road this other chap I knew was older about my age. He must have been the son of one of the farm workers who lived in one of the cottages on the farm, there were two cottages together. There was a swarm of bees up there once; they were in a right state when I saw them. The boy lived somewhere up there, not Carters cottage but farmworkers cottages 3 and 4, I think. I can’t remember his name. Freddie used to know him, and he went to the same school as we went to, Coombe Road School that was how we got to know him. Norman went to Moulsecoomb School.
Before the war we used to go up collecting horse manure. The horses in the barracks used to pull their guns up Coombe Road and then down the road by the Sanatorium and the Jews cemetery. They went down to Plymouth Avenue and across to the farm (along Juggs Lane). When the horses first started to gallop there was lots of manure and we would go and collect the manure and get a penny for a bucket. I don’t remember how many times a week they did that? We would sell the manure to the people in the houses round about.
In the field behind the banjo (part of Manton Road) which comes over as far as your allotments, there was a fire grate and we used to light fires there, that was in the 30s. I think there was a cottage there or maybe a shepherd’s hut at one time; it was the sort of hearth you’d get in a house. There was a semicircle of bricks, so we used to light fires there to bake potatoes. If you go up the bank behind Manton road you get to a flat piece somewhere near the old hospital.
There was a field behind the first few houses in your road with a pathway up to the allotments. There was quite a steep bank and we used to sledge down there in the summer with the sledges we had for the winter. We used to use them during the summer but we had to mind out for the concrete that was down the bottom because it got in the way.
I don’t remember the West’s of Upper Bevendean farm you see they built your houses and that kept us further away from the farm. There was still a cow meadow beyond your houses if you look at the picture with Bransby Jones in it. When I had an aeroplane it hit one of those houses just missing the windows it was one of those you built yourself. Further up the cow meadow there was always a swamp, swampy ground why we never knew, the prefabs were built on that ground.
s_008 - 31st October 2014