I was born in West Street, Brighton, in a small flat above a cafe, we moved to Bevendean in 1948, one of the first families, we lived at No. 7 Norwich Drive.
The photograph above was taken at the bottom of Norwich Drive in the 1950s.
Bob Wakelin is the small boy sitting at the front holding a doll. The children at the back are L to R - Dorothy Markwick, Phyllis Major and David Markwick with dog "Chum". The front row from left to right, consists of Teddy Major, Rita Bull, Bob Wakelin and Brenda Bull.
My earliest memory of Bevendean was being in the nursery class in the infants school. We had to go to sleep in the afternoon; my little bed had a blue blanket with a cricket bat motif. I remember my father gave me a second hand pedal car. I was told to ride it only as far as the end of the garden path. It wasn’t long before I was off down the road, past the prefabs and down onto the Lewes road. Three hours later I was brought home in a police car, to the relief of my frantic mother.
In the Coronation Party photograph Bob Wakelin is in the middle. The little boy is John Cochrane and the little girl was one of the Harrap family who lived in Taunton Road.
Bevendean at that time was like a huge adventure playground, apart from the woods and the fields, there were many half built house is to play in. We were never bored.
At harvest time we used to follow the combine harvester and make camps in the straw, I remember camping in the dew pond with a couple of pals, now I notice it’s full of water.
I always enjoyed going to school. The lessons were always interesting, I remember going on school outings to Devil’s Dyke and Newhaven Harbour. I have fond memories of playing football for the school football team with Mr Webb and Mr Maskell shouting their encouragement from the side-lines.
My father was a coach driver and my mother was a part-time waitress. My sister Marion was the eldest child, followed by my brother John, then me and then my younger brother Barry.
The picture above is of class 3A taken in 1956, the teacher was Mr Avis, Marjorie Fuller was in the top row, 4th from the left and Bob Wakelin was in the next row down, 2nd from the right.
The play Hansel and Gretel was performed at Bevendean Infants School in 1957. Hansel and Gretel were played by Peter Macrae and Patricia Kelly. Bob Wakelin was a tree in the forest along with Robert Price, Peter May, Trevor Bennett, Anthony Baker and others.
Our back garden was quite large with a vegetable plot, chicken run and lawn. It backed onto the field and one night the cows got in and completely munched their way through the entire vegetable plot. My dad got fed up with the constant battle with keeping the cows out and the foxes away from the chickens. He turfed it over and we had a huge lawn.
Our house, with metal window frames was very cold in the winter; we used to get frost on the inside of the window panes. I remember walking across the downs to Falmer on a snowy winter’s day. We had heard that the pond was frozen over and it was possible to get across to the island. Needless to say I went straight through the ice, up to my waist.
I remember Skinners fish and chip shop, Mr Baldy the Butcher, Mr Hawse the grocer, Mr Sharpe the chemist and Mr Schofield at the sweetshop. There was also a greengrocer and a Haberdasher, but I can’t remember their names. In the early 1950s we had ration books.
I remember when Doctor Roberts surgery was in Leybourne parade, almost opposite the fish shop.
Every summer there was a fete on the school playing fields; it was always good fun and well attended. My brother John won the soap box Derby one year and got his photo in the Argus.
I was in the scouts and went to the youth club.
I remember well when they built the White Admiral. The landlord didn’t seem to be very child friendly. We used to call him “Moany ‘Arry”. [The first landlord of the White Admiral was Mr Henry Byrne].
We travelled to and from Bevendean by bus, numbers 110 or 111; hardly anyone had a car in those days.
I left Bevendean when I was 17. We moved to the high-rise flats at Albion Hill.
I knew every tree in the Woods. On one of them I carved, “BW1959”.
I went back there in the nineteen nineties to see if it was still there, but of course it had been blown down with all the others in the big storm of 1987.
Geoff Lindfield comments on Bob Wakelin’s memories of Bevendean
I’ve just seen Bob Wakelin’s summary and photos of his days in Norwich Drive. He was in the same class as I was. I can remember going over the downs to Falmer and sending someone on ahead on the way back to get a pack of 5 woodbines that we would smoke in our "camps" in the gorse valley. I can also remember quite a few of the faces in the school photos.
The good old days.
9 September 2018