Photo:Rear of Sefton Terrace

Rear of Sefton Terrace

Street family

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'DOUG STREET - LIVING ON DENTON ISLAND' page

1931 to early 1940'S

By Doug Street

I was born at No 1 Sefton Terrace, Denton Island in 1931 and I lived on the island for 6 or 7 years. I can remember some of the surnames of my neighbours: Eager, Doyle, Ingram, Lipscombe, Richards, Novis, Peddleston, Saunders, Winder.

As a small boy I had the freedom of playing on the Island, and I didn't wander off the Island as I knew I would be in trouble, although I used to try the 'daredevil' walk along the pipe that ran across the bottom of the bridge at low tide (this used to be the sewerage pipe for the island). Here are some of my memories:

I remember our house had 3 bedrooms (1 was a small box room). My sister and I shared a double bed (as did most of the children in those days). We had a living room downstairs (the only warm room in the winter with a coal fire) and we had to go down a few steps to the scullery, and there was a back door to the toilet, joined on at the back of the house. (You can see the rear of the house in my photograph, also notice the cat, baby in a pram and the tin baths hanging on the wall). Sometimes at high tide the island would flood, and water would seep into our house. I was the only boy that owned a proper leather football, and if I wasn't playing with it, the other boys would come to ask to borrow it. I remember that near bonfire night we would start to build a bonfire, and the boys from Elphick Road would come accross to the island and try to light it, I stood on guard sometimes at my young age. I sometimes played on the roof of the black shed of 'Saunders and Gates Coal Merchants'.

Mum bought most of her small groceries on the island, and she would hand me her red tally book to take to Mrs Ingram's grocery shop, and like many of the other women living on the island, she settled her account at the end of the week when father was paid. I was allowed to buy 1/2d of sweets, or I would try my hand at winning 6d of sweets (you ask how this is possible?). On the counter stood a wooden box, slightly raised with indented round holes, you had to pierce the membrane of the holes to allow a ball to fall to the bottom of the box, they were different colours, if you saw a golden ball then you had won 6d of sweets. I only won 1/2d of sweets, but it was good fun. Toffees were my favourite sweets, and I also remember near the date of the annual boat race that I would buy toffees from Mrs Ingram, she would take them from a jar and place into a paper bag.  The toffee wrappers were 2 colours and you had to collect the wrappers for the whole team. We kept chickens as did many of the families and one family (Saunders) kept pigs. I remember seeing Ada Saunders with the yoke and buckets (containing water), going out to feed the pigs. When the pigs were slaughtered some of the meat was shared out amongst the islanders (I think we paid into a kitty for this).

My father (Percy Street) worked on the harbour dredger Testside (photo shows him in one of the Testside Mud Barges, they were about 150 feet long.  Also in the photo is the Glen Gower a Pleasure Paddle Steamer that ran to Eastbourne and Brighton). I also remember 'The Soton' being moored alongside the island. Concrete blocks were made in her hold, and taken out to the breakwater.

This page was added by Sylvia Woolford on 18/05/2010.
Comments about this page

Interesting article Doug, on a byegone period of local history, which I would imagine a lot of people would never have realised that houses once stood on Denton Island. Its not until items like this, highlight how changes have occured over the years of a vastly different town of today with all the modern changes taking place!

By Chris Young
On 21/05/2010

My grandad is Phil Doyle who lived at Sefton Terrace. He always tells us the story of when he set the front room of his house alight while he was playing with matches, and he hid the matches near the river behind a wooden post which is still in the river bank. He likes reading anything about Denton Island and his house is in one of the pictures on this web site.

By dave ashdown
On 22/05/2010

Wonderful! I was born in Newhaven in 1948, lived in London and San Francisco most of my life.  Son of Harry Parker, I grew up in New Road, my grandma, May Walters lived there till she was 96.

By mikeparker
On 24/05/2010

What a wealth of characters graced the streets of Newhaven over the years...Horace Horscraft, Taff Standing, Bert Lilywhite...fiction dims beside these people. This town somehow had an affection for itself, a humour, maybe compared to its stiffer sister Seaford. Me, I miss it like a brother, that little high street echoes with old laughter and good old-time friendship. More to follow......

By mike parker
On 30/05/2010

The Saunders who lived on Denton Island were Charlie and Ethel (nee Austin). Ethel was Sister to my Great Grandad Charlie Austin who used to play in the Newhaven Town Band in 1912 - he played right up until his Death.

By Heidi Watkins
On 06/06/2010

Hi Mike, another great character that used to grace the streets of Newhaven was P.C. (Big) Bill Packham, a proper policeman.

By Colin Brandon
On 24/06/2010

Doug, I never knew you were a Denton Islander. My Parents and I  lived on Denton Island and also I believe my grand parents ( Townsend side). I have some photo's somewhere of their house. I think they lived close to the Saunders.

By Trevor Townsend
On 11/03/2011

Hi Doug, Love your stories of the Island, brought back many memories of days gone by, How about your memories of Gibbon Road, they should be interesting. Hope you are well.

By johnny snow
On 26/03/2011

My father once told me that his grandmother lived on Denton Island. He mentioned that her name was Winder and that she had a wooden leg. Can anyone shine any light on this?

By ronherriott
On 04/04/2011

Further back into the island were some smaller houses addressed as The Huts my grandparents Frank Sexton & wife Beatrice ( nee Taylor ), also my father Robert and his brothers & sisters and Beatrices parents Haizel & Elizabeth Taylor. My aunt Beatrice wrote down about her time on the island when it flooded and the family lost some of their livestock.

By ray sexton
On 07/04/2011

My Dad's mother's father (Great Grandfather - John Ballard) lived in Sefton Terrace with his young family in a boarding-house back around 1891. My own father lived there for a time with his parents during the early to mid thirties. He used to talk about 'the island' with great fondness - going round 'scragging' each others bonfires around Firework Night. His father liked to swim and relax in the river - something that I wouldn't like to do now!

By John Simmons
On 25/05/2011

My grandfather, Bert Longly, was born on the Island, and his younger brother died there having fallen into the river.

By Trevor Bennett
On 30/10/2011

What a fantastic page. My Dad was brought up there on the island. He was Joe Doyle. He passed away last December 2011, aged 93. We have grown up with stories of the island rats, and they sure could tell some stories of really hard times.

By pauline mcmahon. nee Doyle.
On 07/03/2012

Hi Pauline, Sorry to hear about your dad, I remember your family very well and our mothers working on the potato fields etc. Joe, like Ivy Sexton, lived to a good age. We all grew up and went to school together from Gibbon Road. Mind you, I wasn't a "wild child" like you, LOL. I did get to do some work on the last few houses in Sefton Terrace on Denton Island that was in early 1960, before the bulldozers moved in.

By Colin Brandon
On 09/03/2012

Does anybody remember my dad George Marchant? He lived in Sefton Terrace on Denton Island. I think his mum and dad lodged with a family called Richardson. I know they were living there until 1943/45. His mum and dad's names were Agnes & Harry and he was on the Newhaven Lifeboat

By Val Burton nee Marchant
On 03/06/2012

Denton Island was my brother Edwin's and my playground from the end of the war until the mid-1950s. In those days few houses were occupied, I'd say perhaps half a dozen, so we played hide and seek and other games in the rest of the abandoned houses.

In Reeds Cottages, the terrace facing the North Quay, I think only the northernmost house was inhabited by the Saunders family. Peggy Saunders, who married a Vinall, was a good friend of my sister, Marcia and lately of my sister, Honor. All the Saunders family spoke with strong Sussex accents, which have vanished from Newhaven.

One house in Sefton Terrace was inhabited by Mr and Mrs Willingham. He was known as 'Totter', as he lived by totting. She could sometimes be seen at noon running across the bridge with a jug of ale for dinner.

In the third NW-facing terrace of rather smaller houses lived Percy King who had one room filled with birds. He would rescue injured birds and I recall his showing me a herring gull which had given him a bloody nose. The bird seemed quite tame. He was a frequent out-of-hours purchaser of 'baccy' from my mum. He also had a large handbell with which he used to ring in the new year outside my bedroom window with many merry revellers.

My father used to grow vegetables on the island and I used to hate going across on a winter morning to cut brussels or cabbage tops or dig parsnips for dinner. On Saturday mornings I used to take the dirt from our chickens across to the compost heap. The chicken runs were given fresh ashes from the Co-op bakery, accessed from the riverside. I used to carry the stuff in a wheelbarrow made from a wooden crate and pram wheels.

Can you explain 'totting' for us please. Andy-Editor.

By Lionel Warnes
On 06/04/2013

'Totting' is collecting is collecting scrap metal etc. to resell to make money.

By B. Greenfield
On 08/04/2013

Yes Ron Herriott our mutual Great Grandparents did live on Denton Island or so my Dad told me. They lived in a house called Catt Cottages. They would maybe also be among the Elphick Road 'gang' as the family lived 4 Lower Elphick Road before moving to Elphick Road. My late sister June worked in Fludes Carpets in late 60's which was on Denton Island and still there today so I believe.

My grandfather Charles Collington was born in No. 4 Catts Cottages on Denton Island in 1877.             John - Editor

By Susan McKenzie Herriott)
On 13/12/2013

Interesting article. Dick Saunders was my uncle & I remember going out on the coal lorry with him in the late 1940's. I also remember Bert Lilywhite who was a good friend of his.

By Graham Moore
On 20/12/2013

Would this be the same Phil Doyle who lived in Lawes Avenue with his wife Flo and daughter Rosemary?  I lived in Lewes Road in the late 1950's early 1960's with my parents Olive and John Nash. I have happy memories of spending time with Rosemary and her lovely parents.

By Wendy Kitchener (Nash)
On 31/01/2016

Hello, my great grandparents were the Richards you lived near at Sefton Terrace. Do you have any memories of them whatso ever? I would love to hear more about the names I've found on the census.


By Nikki Richardson
On 19/10/2016

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