Peoples Stories - Bevendean History Project
Memories of Brown Loaf Farm by Frank Edwards part 2
the war a gorse filled valley near Bevendean Farm was used by the army
for target practice (Mortars) and Manoeuvres, (today known as Hogtrough Bottom). As children we would be
fascinated watching, especially the explosions. We would wait for them
to go home and then collect the spilled live ammunition, prise the
bullet out with an old pair of pliers and scatter the powder from the
cartridge on a stone and set fire to it, it was the nearest to
fireworks we could create! Two lads from the Avenue found two live
grenades pulled the pins and threw them downhill, of course the blast
goes mainly up hill and both had minor shrapnel wounds. We would treat
unexploded mortar bombs with great respect.
Towards the end
of the war, Bevendean Avenue was extended (Heath-Hill Avenue) and
prefabs built to house those bombed out of their homes in central
Brighton. A lot of the work was carried out by prisoners of war.
mother would give me sandwiches and fruit to take to them, passing it
over at the five bar gate entrance to the "Cows field". They would
often give us "foreign coins" in return. The building of the prefabs
restricted the sledging fun that was to be had on the steep side (east)
of the "cow’s field". One snowy winter several accidents occurred
with sledges managing to negotiate the fence ok but going through the
side of the prefab!! You had to be quick at the fence, flipping the
wire up at just the right moment to pass underneath. The thought now of
what may have happened if you failed to do so, horrifies me.
V.E. day was
celebrated with a gift of a large tin of chocolate powder from school
and in the evening a large bonfire with all the neighbours attending. I
was hurried indoors when some live ammunition was thrown onto the fire.
We did not have to attend school next day.
It seemed to us
youngsters that the council was taking a long time to reinstate the
greens running down the centre of the avenue. They had been made over
to allotments in the early part of the war, leaving only some very
small areas of grass; fortunately these were large enough to
accommodate the tables for the V.E. street parties. Spontaneously
everyone hung out flags for this occasion giving quite a holiday
feeling. Anyway tiring of the wait and needing somewhere to properly
play our football and cricket we all got together and started to clear
the allotment banks and running my father’s heavy garden roller
over the cultivated areas. This didn't go down too well with their
owners, but a number of younger men stood up for our initiative and
protected us, someone called the Argus (or possibly it was the Gazette)
who rushed up to take photographs and ran an article backing our
campaign. Throughout the local bobby who lived near the shops turned a
blind eye to the incident. It was soon after this that work commenced
to level and re-grass the area, surrounding it with chestnut fencing to
allow the grass seed to properly take root.
At Brownlow Farm,
my Grandmother and my Aunt "Sissy" both died soon after the end of the
war and my father’s younger brother, Arthur, took over the
running of the farm. However the new Bevendean housing estate was now
stretching to the bottom of their land and the council prohibited him
from keeping pigs because of the smell! Sadly effectively the farm was
no longer a farm; the area was no longer economical to grow crops or to
keep animals. My uncle let the remaining pasture to accommodate other
people’s horses and turned his hand to servicing motor vehicles,
Brownlow had become history.
Down at the
Avenue in Lower Bevendean, the war time events were also passing into
history, the long walk as a 5 to 6 year old to Coombe Road school where
if we were half way and the air-raid sirens went we had to run to an
ack-ack gun emplacement at the corner of Eastbourne Road where the
soldiers would place us in the Ammunition bay to protect us from
shrapnel! If we were nearer school we would sit in the school
playground air-raid shelter and have a story read to us by one of the
teachers. Slowly the food and clothing coupons were dispensed with and
conditions returned to those more recognisable today. The Avenue road
was strengthened and double decker buses were able to use the route,
their number changing from 13F to 110 and 111.
Edited from "Days at Bevendean from 1938 to after the war" as experienced by the writer, Frank Edwards in May 2015.
29 September 2015