THE POST-WAR YEARS

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 coronation week'.

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 1940

'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 West:-

29 Barclays, 24 Miss Claverley - Hairdresser, 23 Clifford's Confectioners, 22 Saltdean Cafe, 21 Westminster Bank, 20 Doreen Fruiterer, 19 Dolphin Fishmongers, 18 Deans Butchers, 17 Confectioner, 16 William's - Wireless Engineer, 15 Stephenson Grocers, 14 Hitchcock Draper, 13 Shimmin Chemist.

On the East Side there resided:-

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 together...'.

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 since.




 



YOUTH CLUB
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.




 



SALTDEAN SCHOOL

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 Rottingdean.

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 Saltdean Referendum).

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'.