Ken's Story: From Whelks to the Wheel Gang

Growing up in the Hanover area of Brighton in the 1930's

By Hamish MacGillivray

Photo:Camping with a bell tent near Barcombe, 1935.

Camping with a bell tent near Barcombe, 1935.

Photo:The Junior Detective League, 1938, Ken standing in centre.

The Junior Detective League, 1938, Ken standing in centre.

Photo:The Pepperbox, 1948.

The Pepperbox, 1948.

Photo:Ken digging a shelter in Brighton with gas mask on, 1939.

Ken digging a shelter in Brighton with gas mask on, 1939.

Ken’s Story: From Whelks to the Wheel Gang by Hamish MacGillivray.

Some Brighton local history questions:

·      Did you know why the St Luke’s choirboys were desperate?

·      Did you know about the shouting in the streets around Hanover?

·      Did you know about the Wheel Gang?

These and many other amazing facts about living in Hanover in the 1930s were recalled by Ken Chambers who was interviewed by the WRVS Heritage Plus. Ken has written a book “Brighton Dairies – Memories of a Young Man in Peace and War 1929 to 1943” published by Hanover Books.

Ken gave some vivid detail about living in this part of Brighton when the Pepper Box (now the Pepper Pot) was a community focal point in the 1930s.Ken’s first memories of the Pepper Box was its practical nature, as the bottom part was a public toilet. As a choirboy at St Lukes (which had no toilet) he remembers that after every Sunday service,

“We used to rush across then pee up against the urinal to see who could pee the highest!”

As a lad, Ken, his cousin Cyril Chambers and friends established a club called the Junior Detective League. They used to meet in a shed behind the Church Hall (now the Sidney Tidy House).

Ken remembers the knife grinder who would cycle down the streets and shout out “Any knives to grind,knives to grind?” The man would then convert his bicycle into a stationary grinding wheel. There was also a Sunday evening treat when a seller would shout out on Queen’s Park Road “Crumpets! Whelks!”

The Scouts used the Pepper Box as a storeroom for their collapsible cart and bell tents. A group of boys, called the Wheel Gang, would often meet near the Pepper Box to race old pram wheels around the streets. Ken observed that, with St Luke’s Church Hall (and Men’s Club), St Luke’s Church, the Beaufort Pub, the Tram Stop, Police Box and Telephone box “…and with the Pepper Box, you had this circle, play area, everything.”

For more details about Ken’s book see http://www.hanoverbooks.co.uk

For more details about the Friends of the Pepper Pot see

  http://pepperpot.info/FriendsofthePepperpot.aspx

 

The four photographs on this page are published by kind permission from Ken Chambers as seen in his book “Brighton Dairies”.

This page was added by John Cheves on 29/09/2010.

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