My dad asked for a council house because there were 2 of us girls and Mum and Dad and Granny. The council refused to give him a council house, they said when his furniture was out on the pavement they might do something. As Dad was wounded from the first war and he did not like a lot of hassle because it would make him ill. New houses were being built in Lower Bevendean and he thought that would be very nice for us and we moved to Lower Bevendean on 13 December 1933.
When we moved to Bevendean there were just a few houses at the top of The Avenue which went round in a horseshoe. It was all very primitive really because there were no proper roads; we had to climb up a plank to get in the front door. After a while we couldn’t use the front door because the wood wasn’t seasoned and it swelled up and nobody could open their front doors so we had to use the back doors. We were the last house in the valley and along the end of our road there was a 5 barred gate where Heather Lodge is now. That was the cow field and beyond that was the farm where we played. My first address was 4 Lower Bevendean Avenue, but then they built more houses and we ended up as number 8. When we first moved, there were just 2 houses in Lower Bevendean Avenue and Upper Bevendean Avenue on what was farmland. We backed onto farmland.
My great friend was Tracey Baldwin and her dad was the horse man. He looked after all the horses which were used on the farm because in those days they had horses to pull the carts along, and for ploughing. I used to go home from school and change my clothes and go up to the farm with Tracey Baldwin to let the cows in.
When I was a child it was absolutely safe for the children to play out around the estate and in the local fields, we could go anywhere. In the holidays one girl Eleanor Smith who had gone to Varndean was the leader, and she would tell us each day which Dew pond to go to. The fourth one was the one, which is still there, just the other side of the Falmer to Woodingdean Road which in those days was a cart track. That was the fourth one if we got as far as that. Usually it was the third which was on the hill above the Water Works house that we got to. We would all have jam sandwiches and a bottle of water and would be out all day. I was 5 at the time and there would be about 10 or 15 of us. Eleanor was in charge and when she pushed her little brother in a pram we all hung our bottles of water on the pram. Eleanor must been 11 or 12 but we were out in absolute safety. Further over they had sheep all down the cart track which is now the Falmer to Woodingdean Road, they had pens where they penned the sheep every year.
Our great excitement was at harvest time when a traction engine would come to thresh the corn and we would be covered in dust. Everybody went and stood round it and there was like a ladder where the sheaves of corn went up. To get there we only had to climb over the fence of the garden and across the field and there was the tractor threshing the corn it came every year.
We made our own entertainment playing in the fields and watching the farm. We could sit on the fence looking at the calves, they had a tiny little pen for the pigs and chickens just ran wild. There were several guinea fowl amongst the ordinary chickens. I don’t know why they kept those. Perhaps they liked guinea fowl eggs I never knew. Then there was the milking shed and the dairy where the milk went through a strainer and poured over a thing with lots of little rollers which water went through. That cooled down the milk from the cows so it could go straight into churns ready for the lorry to come and pick up the churns and take them to the big dairy. It came through the field where the five bar gate was at the end of our houses. We used to sit there and open the gate for the driver and then shut it for him and he would give us a ride to the farm where we opened the next gate and shut it for him while he stayed in his lorry and we did the work. It gave us a ride which was wonderful because we didn’t have rides; we had to walk to the main road to get the bus. The main road was the Lewes Road where we caught the bus at The Avenue bus stop.
Lower Bevendean Avenue was at the end of The Avenue Moulsecoomb. It was between the end of The Avenue houses and the 5 barred gate where Heather Lodge is now, Heath Hill Avenue was still farmland. The Avenue at Moulsecoomb curved round the edge of the estate and it was considered the posh part of Moulsecoomb because there were wide Greens in between the 2 sides of houses. There were tennis courts and at the top, which was wide, there was a football pitch marked out. Just before the war there was an aircraft in trouble and it was circling and the bus must have come by because the bus shone its light on the grass so the airplane could land. This was the Second World War, it would have been about 1938 it was not a biplane it was the original sort with 2 wings and it landed on the greens of the Avenue and everybody went out in their nightclothes to look at it.