Regarding the Ocean Hotel after the war, on the front page
of the Peacehaven and Newhaven Times of 24 Jan 1947 the headline
- 'Saltdeans Ocean Hotel for sale' was displayed along with
the price tag - around £1/2 million. However, it remained
unsold for several years, continuing as a venue for Saltdean
Residents Association meetings, until in 1953 Billy Butlin
purchased the Ocean Hotel for £250,000 (excluding the
Ocean Garage complex) with a special opening on the 3rd May.
He later stated that the Ocean Hotel and been the bargain
of his life. An army of workers had spent six months restoring
the near derelict building and the doors opened on 2nd May
1953. 800 special guests were invited and guests included
the Bishop of Chichester, Dr G.K.A. Bell who dedicated a service
in the ballroom. Also attending were the Mayor of Brighton
- Alderman Dorothy Stringer and the Deputy Mayor of Hove -
Councillor Perry. Butlins publicity officer declared 'The
kitchens are the last word in modernity and we have our own
bakery. There will be a big-screen television, many types
of outdoor sport, sundecks, a resident band, a roller rink
and bathing and splash pools. Except for one or two key posts,
all the staff of 200 have been recruited locally'. Demand
exceeded expectation and their were enquiries for up to six
months ahead. The first large booking was 600 Americans for
Left - Butlin's advert for the opening week of the
Ocean Hotel in May 1953
Mr Herbert Julyan also addressed the meeting, and said he
was glad to see that the inhabitants of Saltdean were now
showing a community spirit. Saltdean, he added, was unique.
In normal times there was a summer population of about 10,000,
yet there was no place of worship, no police station, no
public hall and no public house. He hoped that some of these
deficiencies would be filled after the war'
Item on the Saltdean Fellowship, Evening Argus, 5 July
'One of the things about this place is that it is a sort
of backyard of Brighton. It's lucrative from a rates point
of view...but we get no amenities in return.....'
A. Stephenson, family butcher, Saltdean, in Brighton &
Hove Herald District Supplement, 6 June 1959
Saltdeans population was growing and there was discontent
prevailing in Saltdean until the mid 1960's regarding the
lack of amenities for residents and visitors alike.
After the war these properties inhabited Longridge Avenue
Spanish Lady Tea Rooms, Longridge Wine Stores, Trenrowes
Dyers & Cleaners and Longridge Stores.
SALTDEAN SOCIAL CLUBS
The only purely social club was 'The Saltdean Club'. Meetings
where held at the Estate Company buildings on Marine Drive.
In June 1942 they were struck of the register in Brighton
and Hove and fined £28 for selling illegal liqueur on
8 occasions without a license. The Comus Club was held at
the top floor of the Estate Company from 1947 and despite
it's name conducted it's meetings in a moderate manner. It
ran for a successful seven years until it's closure in 1954,
prompted by competition from TV and cheaper petrol. In it's
heyday it put on all kinds of entertainment and functions
from fancy dress balls and darts matches in the Newhaven League,
to a Grand Dance in 1953 to commemorate the coronation
Left - the tennis court area in the park circa 1925
where the Lido now stands
Community Association was founded initially by a Mr A Moont
of Withyam Avenue. The Tennis Club that was formed within
the Association had at one time a membership of around 60
and entered for Challenge Cups. The first problem that the
Community Association faced was to find a suitable venue
for meetings. When the membership was small the back room
of the cafe in Longridge Avenue was used - with refreshments
readily available - and occasionally meetings held on subjects
met at the two other cafe's near the seafront - 'Sunkist''
and 'Tudor Gables'. On New Year's Day 1949, the Association
held it's first major function which was a ball at the Ocean
Hotel, where roughly 350 attended despite a howling gale.
More members bought increasing pressure to find larger premises
and the Association was able to rent the top floor of the
Estate Offices for the weekly rent of 7 guineas. One guest,
Councillor A.W. Briggs gave a talk about the history of
the beginning of Community Centres in Brighton, calling
Saltdean's 'their most lusty infant'. The Association in
Saltdean offered a variety of activities including Old Tyme
Dancing and drama evenings - one being held at the Ocean
Hotel with over 200 spectators. Although the Association
grew in strength and numbers, the high rent and lack of
council grant meant that in 1955 the premises closed and
the Association wound down.
The Residents Association bought a committee together to
discuss policy and planning and provision of amenities.
The 1950's and 1960's proved a transition time in Saltdean's
history with continuing semi-rural deterioration with the
lack of good roads and ruined Lido. This made the S.R.P.O.A.
even more determined to sort out shortcomings. On the 13
Sept 1954 a meeting by four members of the Association's
subcommittee took the first steps towards managing provision
of amenities attended by a Miss D Turvey representing the
Estate Company. Matters raised included the provision of
roads, near derelict buildings and tennis courts and the
use of residential buildings for trade purposes. There was
little hope of help from the Estate Company which was by
then in voluntary liquidation. The Lido was actually in
the possession of the Mutual Building Society and was later
to be purchased and restored by Brighton Corporation although
they declined to buy the tennis courts on Mount Estate.
It was however agreed to put name boards on roads and the
bush growth by Longridge Avenue/Rodmell Avenue junction
should be seen to. The local authorities were the only possible
means of improvement and the talks were held on January
1955 on Saltdeans merger with Brighton with E.S.C.C. and
Chailey Rural District Council. In November 1954, talks
were also held with the Rottingdean Ward Councillors and
Brighton Corporation on the same subjects with the addition
of educational facilities. Long-term plans only were envisaged.
However, Mr C Baron - head of the Residents Associations
amenities subcommittee -reported after the first year that
Chailey Rural District Council had utterly failed to respond
to proposals although the new Brighton Borough Council had
reacted in a 'satisfactory and heartening way'. A three
year programme had been made up for the sewering and making
up of roads in West Saltdean. As late as 1959 the Residents
Association continued to fight for better amenities and
Subcommittees existed for the problem areas such as the
Tye, the Lido and park and education.
Saltdean Park area was scheduled for opening in 1953 where
a permanent open space was proposed and the historic barn
was to be turned into a local meeting hall and theatre.
Butlins considered purchasing it to construct a funicular
to take guests direct to the hotel but this never materialised.
SPANISH LADY & ST MARTINS
The lack of licensed premises in Saltdean was not addressed
until in 1954 the Residents Association approached the Ocean
Hotel on the possibility of a full license which was not
deemed practical. The Spanish Lady, eventually to become
Saltdeans first public house started off life as a considerably
smaller private residence which had Spanish tiles incorporated
into the roof and three beautiful blue and yellow glazed
fireplaces which had been bought over by the Estate Companies
managing director from Spain. It ran as tea rooms for a
while - 'The Chimes' - where business was slow and then
after having been taken over by Mr and Mrs Burroughs, it
was successful for six years, with queues often outside,
until ill-health forced the business to close down.Left
- The Spanish Lady as a free house
Left - the Spanish Lady as a private residence called
'The Chimes and as a public house
They had in this time registered the name 'The Spanish Lady'
and 33 years after the first house in Saltdean, Brighton's
Taplins & Son's Brewery Brighton Ltd purchased the Spanish
Lady Tea Rooms for Saltdeans first public house in 1956.
The formal opening took place on the 3rd August 1956 after
some controversy over the license which meant that the license
from the Lord Nelson was transferred there.
In 1940, Miss Adele Angeloni and Miss Nora Feilder opened
their home 'Adelenoir', 65 Rodmell Avenue to a Sunday school
for the benefit of local children. Numbers grew and they
subsequently moved to larger premises at 12 Bevendean Avenue
- a private school called 'The Dene', where services where
held from 6 July 1941. A The Rev.d M. Harries took the first
religious service in a shop along Longridge Avenue and then
transferred them to the Lido, with services in the men's
dressing room and the Sunday school in the ladies dressing
room. Miss McLachlan, an elderly church sister from Kemp
Town, took Sunday School and although she was a Presbyterian
she taught children of any religion. She organised bazaars
and the children raised small amounts of money for bricks
for a church hall. In winter, worshippers sometimes held
candles to see hymn books.
Left - St Martins church in Longridge Avenue
The last service was held there on 20th February 1949,
while the elders meetings had been held in the Sunkist cafe.
The South Coast Presbytery gave £1000 towards larger
premises and another £5000 came from various sources.
The church was built and named after St Martin - the first
Christian church in England. St Martins church and hall
were ready 2 1/2 years before St Nicholas church although
it was kindly given to the community at any time not needed
by St Martins. In 1948, there was enough money for St Martins
Church Hall on Longridge Avenue and there is a tablet placed
to Miss McLachlan's memory in the hall.
ST NICHOLAS CHURCH
The original church in what is now the hall was dedicated
on 25 February 1949. The new church-only building was dedicated
on the 15th June 1957, with the beautiful pulpit dedicated
in the memory of Miss McLachlan and pews given in memory of
other notables such as a Mrs Fielder. The most striking aspect
of the new church was the stained glass window coming from
a church at Forest Green near Dorking. All memorial gifts
were recorded on a book that now rests on the communion table.
In 1971, members voted overwhelmingly to join the newly-formed
United Reformed Church launched nationally on 5th October
1972. The guiding principle of St Martins remained the same
as the early days of the war that it should 'be a place where
people of all denominations, or none, could come and worship
Left - The Link magazine in February 2002 (a great
source of information for this website )
Even before the war there had been the need for an Anglican
church in Saltdean. A permanent place for services, christenings
and funerals was needed as the nearest were St Margaret's
in Rottingdean and St Laurence in Telscombe Village. An
interdenominational meeting was held in 1940 with the The
Bishop of Chichester G.K.A. Bell but they had been unable
to sponsor the cause at the time. In October 1947 the issue
was reopened at the Residents meeting and the Vicar of Rottingdean,
Rev.d W.O. White stated that the Diocese had bought a site.
Saltdean residents energetically raised funds and by October
1949 £2000 had been raised by covenants, bazaars,
savings schemes and flag days. A prominent fund-raiser was
the late Stanley Bridge (vice-chair of the voluntary committee)
and the late J.A. Mort who like Mr Bridge was an experience
churchwarden. The need for premises in the meantime was
fulfilled by the use of a private house - 8 Founthill Avenue,
home of a local G.P. Dr Webb - from Dec 1948 to May 1950
equipped as a chapel with the aid of St Mary's House in
Rottingdean. Sunday school services were led by Miss M.
R. Butler at 16 Heathfield Avenue in Saltdean Mount and
these were occasionally very overcrowded. Dr Webb sadly
died and for a while services were transferred to the sports
pavilion in the Oval. The plan for a dual purpose church
and hall was granted Diocesan approval in Spring 1950 and
by 1951 the foundation stone had been laid by the Earl of
Bessborough. It was dedicated as 'a beacon to the people
of Saltdean'. An appeal was launched for £35,000 and
although £8000 had been raised and £5000 had
been promised by the Diocese of Chichester, another £22,000
was needed. Mrs Dorothy Neville generously gave a corner
site for the church in memory of her husband - Charles Neville.
A church committee was set up to include the architect -
Edward Maude R.A, designer of Guildford Cathedral and fundraising
continued, including a summer fete and rose show attended
by over 1000 people, raising over £700.
The parish church was opened on 16th March 1963, the small
sculpture of St Nicholas above the door having been constructed
by Alan Collins, later to work on the Kennedy Memorial.
Ultimately, the intention was for Saltdean to become it's
own Parish and Christmas 1963 saw the whole of Saltdean
passed into the care of St Nicholas with a total congregation
of 8000. The foundation stone of the new church was laid
on 5th April 1964 and the ceremony was attended by other
church dignitaries and even some Butlin redcoats.
A year later over 500 people packed into a church designed
to hold 280 for the dedication on 8th May 1965. After the
church was built the Revd Geoffrey Taverner of Rottingdean
held services until a succession of priests - Revd Johnson,
Revd Dingle the Revd Frederick Massey - all lived at St
Nicholas Cottage. It was not until the vicarage was completed
that the long awaited consecration took place - 30 years
after the interdenominational meeting - on 6 December 1970
on the Feast of St Nicholas.Above - 25th April 1964. The
ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone for St Nicholas
Church. On the left are Lustrells Bushes later to be developed
One third of the population of the Roman Catholic church
at Rottingdean were Saltdean residents and there were to
be initiatives for joint cooperation over the coming years.
Early in 1968, a preliminary meeting of St Martin's and
St Nicholas Churches agreed to produce joint Christmas cards
for services at Christmas and Easter. On Sunday 19 Jan 1969,
the first local three-way meeting was held at St Nicholas
Church in the context of a week of prayer for Christian
Unity. The service was conducted by the St Nicholas vicar
- Rev.d Derek Tansill and the minister for St Martins Rev.d
Alistair Prait with the preacher being Father Grant from
Our Lady of Lourdes in Rottingdean. The music was supplied
by the Brighton Salvation Army band. A further meeting of
the three ministers and nine laypersons in November 1970
discussed closer unity in order that 'a cooperative rather
than competitive spirit might be observed by local citizens'.
The Link magazine from the three churches made it's first
appearance in January 1976 and has proved a success ever
The dedication of St Martin's church solved some of the problem
of providing amenities for young people in the district but
it remained a pressing problem in the Fifties and Sixties.
In spring 1958, the Oak Leaf' cafe sprang up (formerly the
Maple Leaf Tea Rooms) along Saltdean Park Road. The headline
in the local press ran 'Saltdean Hears a Juke Box'. Dozens
of motorbikes congregated outside on average 60 a night, although
their was a total membership of around 400. This was hugely
successful and filled a major social need for 15 to 20+ for
over 3 1/2 years.
Additionally, young people in the area spent from Christmas
1960 to July 1961 restoring the sports pavilion in the park,
doing all the repairs themselves apart from electricity
and plumbing. The headquarters comprised of a games room
with dancing space, craftsroom, canteen, office, changing
room and toilets. Every indoor and outdoor game was available
in due course plus drama, pop music and other entertainment.
The club centre was opened by Roderick and Roland Neville
of the Estate Company, who allowed Saltdean youngsters to
rent it for the peppercorn rent of 1s a year. The membership
grew from 5 to 100 in 18 months and over 1/3 were girls.
In March 1958, Saltdean teenagers had sent a letter to
the Minister of Housing and Local Government entitled 'Saltdean
Teenagers feel neglected'. This was signed by 60 young people
and the penultimate paragraph stated that 'we would ask
for more sporting facilities, and would suggest that if
it were impossible to redevelop the Lido as a swimming pool,
it would make an ideal community centre for all sections
of the population. At present there are little or no facilities
for us either to entertain ourselves or be entertained'.
In a reply, the Acting Chair of Saltdean Residents Association
expressed sympathy and pointed out that the Association
had for 'years striven for the amenities which are so urgently
necessary for residents of all ages'. To a great extent
the pressing need for facilities for young people led to
the restoration of the Lido as a swimming pool and the building
of a community centre. On the 4 July 1964 the long derelict
Lido was reopened after restoration by Brighton Corporation
for a cost of £86,000 - the site had been purchased
three years earlier for £20,000
Various schemes had been suggested for the Lido site including
a £250,000 by Billy Butlin to build a roadhouse with
an indoor heated pool, restaurant, concert hall and indoor
bowling rink - Brighton's Planning Committee turned it down
as out of character with the neighbourhood. As late as 1960,
a plan was submitted for the erection of 110 flats on the
site - turned down again. Seven months after the re-opening
of the Lido, Councillor Walter Clout returned to open an
extension to the rear of the Lido for the use of a community
association, library and youth club.
The revival of the Community Association was made in June
1964 and their first function was on 9 January 1965 when
an open day attracted 600 members. The opening was attended
by stage and screen stars and Jack Edwards, the first President,
proudly stated in the first bulletin in 1972 that they had
become affiliated to the National Confederation of Community
Associations and had become the largest in the country.
There was now a huge amount of diverse activities in Saltdean.
Although the Estate Company in 1926 had intended to provide
amenities including a school it was not until a Residents
Association meeting of 1937 that the subject was openly discussed.
In 1938 it was reported that 80 to 100 children went to school
outside Saltdean. After the war the matter was again raised
and the Residents Association sent a deputation to Lewes on
the 29 July 1954 'on the hardship caused by attendance of
East Saltdean children at Peacehaven and Telscombe Infant
and Primary schools'. From information around at the time
a significant number of children attended Rottingdean school
where there was a restriction on numbers due to the fact that
it was full. Although the Education Committee was sympathetic
there was little it could do to assist.
Left - Pupils from Saltdean First School in 1983
- were you one of them?
The matter was pursued by the Resident's Association and
on 28 October 1955 the Amenities Subcommittee reported that
'it had been agreed to build the Infants department of a
primary School and Brighton Corporation commenced with buying
the land in Saltdean Vale'. An alternative site at the top
of Longridge Avenue was kept available in reserve in case
East Saltdean became part of the County Borough. However,
the original site was made available after the compulsory
purchase order as the Estate Company wanted to use the land
for private development. The authorities agreed to begin
Infant classes at St Nicholas Church hall from Easter 1957.
The first class contained around 50 children of all ages
and the number of pupils grew rapidly so that the next year
classes expanded into St Martins Church hall to include
East Saltdean children.. Pressure on the hall for church
activities meant that the scout hut over the road was also
used. The situation was obviously unacceptable leading the
Residents Association to declare on 14 June 1960 that the
'present farcical arrangement inflicted on both staff and
children were appalling, denying the children adequate education'.
In September the Association voted unanimously for a protest
resolution to be made to the Ministry of Education. Finally,
there was an offer to Saltdean parents of the condemned
school premises in Rottingdean village in October 1960 to
overcome overcrowding which led the Association secretary
to write to the Minster of Education express alarm that
it should be considered suitable for Saltdean children having
been seen as unsuitable for Rottingdean children. Early
in the following year building began and the school was
opened on Wednesday 12 September 1962, on a site between
Tremola Avenue and Saltdean Vale, by the Mayor of Brighton
Alderman William Button, dedicated by the vicar of Rottingdean,
Rev.d Walters to house 100 children and four staff . There
was soon an extension for very young pupils. Sadly,a fire
destroyed much documentation and material in December 1966.
The number of pupils fluctuated - in 1974 reaching 228 and
129 in spring 1982.
In soon became clear that it did not fulfill the need for
older children and in 1968 a militant band of Saltdean mothers,
with much support from the Residents Association, campaigned
for an extension which was so successful the permanent building
- the later Middle school - was completed at least a year
earlier than it might have been. Throughout the summer of
1968 'Saltdean's battling mums', led by Mrs Maureen Dice
of Ashurst Avenue, were always in the news and at a Residents
Association meeting in July attacked she attacked Brighton
Corporation for it's bad foresight and planning. She pointed
out that no water was available in the temporary huts and
one housed more than 80 children. The Labour MP Dennis Hobden,
and his Tory counterpart Andrew Bowden, supported the mothers,
along with the Evening Argus. An important meeting was held
in August 1968 to agree that further huts be erected and
St Nicholas Church hall cater for the overspill. Even then
as many as 30 children were refused admission until September
as there was no room for them. In the meantime, Mr Stone
of the Education committee wrote to the Department of Education
to ask for a more permanent, acceptable building.
on land that the Saltdean mothers had critisised for being
'eight acres of green and pleasant land in the centre of
Saltdean to be devoured by housing developers'. The land
on which the school occupied had been inhabited by two relatively
modern police cottages. Interestingly, as early as 1955
the idea was mooted of a secondary school in Saltdean however
today the vast majority of pupils move onto Longhill In
1984 was the year of the Golden Jubilee of the Saltdean
Resident's Association. There was a fancy dress ball at
the Ocean Hotel, commemorative saplings were planted in
the Oval and in October the BBC's 'Any Questions' team arrived.
Fittingly, two of the towns residents held Mayoral office
- Councillor Blackman of Brighton and Councillor Flint,
Mayor of Telscombe
Throughout it's history the Residents Association has achieved
almost all it's objectives bar one - a united Saltdean -
an issue still in progress today (see
As a postscript, as so much of this source material has
come from Douglas d'Enno's wonderful book - 'The Saltdean
Story' - now out of print but like 'golddust' according
to one resident I spoke to recently - I would like to use
Mr d'Enno's reflection on Charles Neville who died aged
79 in 1960. Mr d'Enno writes that 'rarely has a man been
so misjudged, seldom has such enterprise and dynamism gone
unrecognized'. Mr d'Enno's goes on to say that his life
and activities was recounted in 'The Downland Post shortly
before he died and a few lines in particular stay in his
mind. One in particular I like is 'work hard, with cheerfulness,
never hurt anybody. It is the worry upon conservatism and
bad business that kills.'
Mr d'Enno concludes by saying that 'Neville had nurtured
Saltdean form the very beginning. Had he lived a few more
years he would have seen her come of age'.