Peacehaven Through the Years

How Peacehaven has changed

By Reuben Lanham

Photo:The house on the left at the corner of Firle Road and Roderick Avenue in 1926

The house on the left at the corner of Firle Road and Roderick Avenue in 1926

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

WRVS "Past Peacehaven"- Reminiscences by Reuben Lanham

Although not actually born here, I grew up in Peacehaven in the 1930s - at my grandparents' house, which still exists at the corner of Firle Road and Roderick Avenue, though now stripped of its 2 acres of land, bought in 1921 for £135.  Since 1952 I have lived in a bungalow, designed by myself, in Sunview Avenue, which stands on a double plot of ground 50' by 100'.

Before World War II Peacehaven was a rural development of scattered bungalows.  There were no made-up roads, apart from the South Coast Road - and that was unpaved.  We had to wait until the 1960s for main drainage and proper street lighting.  The small population (no more than 2000) meant that residents knew more of their neighbours than they would today.  There was also probably relatively more local activities organised by the community than there would be today with a population of 5 times that size.  Nearly all the shops were strung out along the 1½ mile long South Coast Road, and they catered for most needs before the days of supermarkets.  Today they have mostly been replaced by estate agents, hair and beauty salons and fast-food outlets!

Although the bus service to Brighton was frequent (every 15 minutes) at the cost of only 1 shilling and 2 pence return (6p), there was not a lot of commuting for work and road traffic was a fraction of that today.  Children used to play safely on the steep road near our house - something unthinkable today with the incessant stream of cars up and down Roderick Avenue.

Many people kept chickens and other animals and grew their own vegetables.  We walked a mile or more across open downland to attend the old elementary school, which comprised a pair of corrugated iron huts at the far east-end of the "town".  It had no electricity and only primitive outside toilets.  Indeed we never had electricity in my grandparents' house - we relied on oil lamps until 1936.  A small brick-built bungalow, similar to mine, could be bought for less than £500 before the War.  (It would probably fetch about £200,000 today!).  Sadly one hardly knows the name of one's immediate next door neighbour today, and parked cars clutter the streets.

R. Lanham 8/9/08

This page was added by M Ashley on 14/10/2008.
Comments about this page

Very interesting especially regarding properties, as the bungalow we live in was built in 1924 and also had a large plot of land, we think it sold for about £200.

By jill Fry
On 22/10/2008

I am a Year 3 teacher at Hoddern Junior school in Peacehaven. We are currently doing a project about the changes in Peacehaven over the past century and are busy collecting the memories of parents and grandparents, as well as comparing old photos with how the town is now. We are creating an online learning resource to collate what we have found out. It would be great to make contact with some of the original residents of the town. The children were particularly interested in the drawings and writings of Reuben and wondered what it was like as a child in Peacehaven.

By Diana Waller
On 29/10/2008

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