Allotments in the Valley

By Val Lidster

I'd love to know if other people have memories of the allotments on the land that became the Valley estate.

My grandparents, Mr & Mrs Frank Vinall, lived in Lewes Road, and their allotment was in the family for years (possibly beginning with my grandmother's parents, named Simmons), and ending when the Valley Estate was built.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'VINALL FAMILY - FAMILY PHOTOS 1930's & 40's' page

The 1st picture of the lush greenery and two greenhouses brings back memories; the larger greenhouse was dismantled and later stood in the garden of the house where I was born, in Western Road.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'VINALL FAMILY - FAMILY PHOTOS 1930's & 40's' page

The 2nd photo shows our lovely Aunt Rose and her daughter Rita (now Funnell) taken, I think, in the late 1930s.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'VINALL FAMILY - FAMILY PHOTOS 1930's & 40's' page

The 3rd picture is of my sister Pat, and brother Rod on a swing taken about 1946.  It is one of a few we have showing the old gasometer which stood near the back of Lawes Ave; I remember it, although I'm not sure when it was demolished.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'VINALL FAMILY - FAMILY PHOTOS 1930's & 40's' page

The picture of the family playing rounders is taken near Bullens Bush (we never called it 'Bollens'!) it was taken about 1931; the women in the picture were the 'Simmons sisters' and their children, my dad Edgar Vinall being one of the two boys.  Much of this higher ground was unchanged until well after I left home in 1969.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'VINALL FAMILY - FAMILY PHOTOS 1930's & 40's' page

The final picture shows the lane, both sides of which led to our 2 allotments (one had some of the ponds in it) - the lane became Willow Walk.

This page was added by Val Lidster on 19/05/2008.
Comments about this page

Lovely photo's Val, I remember being with my brother Bob and watching a kingfisher diving into the ponds from a willow tree and catching fish. I thought it was the most beautiful bird I had ever seen but have never seen one there since.

My aunt, Ada Flowers, used to walk us along the valley, taking a picnic with us, to go 'gleaning' in a cornfield after the corn had been cut. We would get the corn out of the shucks then take it back to feed my uncle George's chickens which were in the back yard in Lawes Avenue. Some years later my stepfather Jim Lipscombe kept chickens in the valley. As he worked shifts on the railway he paid Bob and me to feed them some mornings and evenings. Mum, or Gran Flowers also used to boil up potato peelings mixed with corn to take down to them. It was a nightmare, trying to get them in the hutch at night as they kept running away and I got plenty of scratched hands! One night Bob didn't lock them in properly and when dad went down next day, apart from one who had escaped across the road, they had all been killed by foxes! A gardener found some of them buried on his allotment! (I was secretly relieved I didn't have to feed them again, so was Bob!)

After that dad got two pigs with a friend of his, but we didn't have anything to do with them (although I rather liked them and felt sad when they eventually went to be slaughtered).  We used to spend hours on the golf course and bullens bush, we climbed trees, picked the bluebells and collected golf balls. I remember lying on the grass by a small pond one day when a large grass snake slithered over and swam across it. I was amazed as I didn't know they could swim. Happy Days.

By Vicky Delaney
On 20/05/2008

Vicky, I'm glad the pictures triggered happy memories; I enjoyed reading your comments because they do for me too. Those allotments were a little bit of heaven for children (in spite of our grandad drowning new kittens in the rain barrel, and dead rabbits hanging up the shed). We went to Bullens for bluebells too, and further over the hill I remember the absolute stillness of 'Submarine Valley' on a hot afternoon.

By Val Lidster
On 22/05/2008

We used to go to submarine valley too.  Mum used to give us jam sandwiches and a drink ,and a crowd of us would go out all day exploring !

We also went to the Lewes Road fields and dared each other to jump over the widest ditches, and then we spent hours building bridges over them!

The wood by the golf course we named Gold Forest (I've no idea why! ) there were lots of springs running down the slopes and we would put dams across and my brother and his friends would try to scare me by saying the woods there were full of adders! (they could well have been), I've seen a few in Bullens!

Another playground was the large sand pit in Brighton Road, we used to climb up the crumbling sides (with no thought of the danger) and play cowboys and indians!

We had so much freedom, and knew all the names of the wild flowers and wild animals and as long as we followed the instruction to be back at 5 o'clock for tea, mum was happy, even though we were covered in mud !!!

By vicky delaney
On 24/05/2008

One Saturday in 1961, I was climbing the Willows that over-hung the Lewes Road ponds and fell in. When I got home soaked to the skin Mum was not happy and plunged me into the bath.
It was the day that Spurs missed the treble! (Can any "pundits" confirm the date?)

By Ian Bishop
On 19/07/2008

I remember my Grandfather and my Father both had allotments on the north slope in the Valley and I had my own little patch there. Once a grass snake which seemed huge to me at the time, slithered past and terrified me.

I also used to play with my Cousin where the ponds are and in the "Bluebell Woods" in Bullens Bush. Does anyone know why it it now called "Bollens Bush"?

I used to try to jump over the ditches in the fields behind Lewes Road and one very cold winter I tried to break the ice in them and after I did, I walked in the freezing water with wellington boots soaked and feet frozen!

Before we moved to Lewes Road, we lived in a house in the Valley, one of about 3 or 4 houses or bungalows and which is still there. When I started Infant School (which is about where the swimming pool is I think), on the first day I was terrified and escaped then ran all the way home to the Valley house to find Mother was not there. An old couple in the bungalow opposite took me in. Mother was not amused!

I remember my Mother kept chickens when I was quite young but when the foxes got them she decided not to keep any more.

After running the little shop on the bend just before the Golf House (A259), my Aunt Gertie Goodsell lived for a time at the very end of the Valley almost under the Golf House.

My Grandmother, Gertrude Baserga, lived in the Golf Cottages where she used to keep chickens, rabbits and a Goat, and I believe that for several years before the 2nd World War she ran a Tea Rooms.

By Dawn Wells (nee Penfold)
On 04/01/2009

My Grandad (Henry Purcell) also 'farmed' two allotments at the valley. He supplied all the family all year round with fresh veg. My Dad was so impressed he took up his own patch just next to the lane from the top of Church Hill into where Northdown Close now stands. Ah yes, Bullens (yes Bullens) Bush was our favourite place too!

By Nigel Willis
On 30/05/2009

I can also remember my grandfather having an allotment in the valley. I can remember that we all would go down helping to pick and take up to the house in Lewes Road. I can remember the pond and I believe their were a number of swans on them whom we used to go and feed.
I was very interested in the piece put in by Nigel Willis, it would be great to be able to get in touch with him, it is a name I cannot recall.
Remember - Arthur, Frank, Terrence (my father) Bob, and a daughter whom I think was named Grace?. Perhaps their were others who I have not listed.

By Bill Purcell
On 02/10/2009

My father had one for many years, him and his dog Midge would spend hours there growing veg for the dinner table. At least that's what he told my Mum.

By Ron Herriott
On 13/12/2009

Henry Purcell was also our grandad, I can remember visiting Lewes Road when I was a child with my dear dad, who was Bob Purcell. It was great to see his name mentioned by Bill Purcell. As a child I also remember my dad's brother & sister Norah & Edward.

By Gwenda Harrison
On 11/06/2010

I believe that my dad is distantly related to Henry mentioned above. My dad's grandad was Thomas Purcell one of the eldest children of Terence Alfred b1851/2 in London but who moved his family to Newhaven where he and several of his sons went to sea. His father Terence was a cooper born in Ireland 1804 believed Kilkenny. Our Thomas was the black sheep who joined the army and led shall we say a colourful life. Our link is through one of his daughters. My dad now in his seventies would be interested to know something/anything about his grandad or great grandad's family.

By Lee (Purcell) Partridge
On 19/08/2010

Henry Purcell was also our grandad, my mother was Grace who Bill remembers, there are 5 of us, 4 sisters and myself. I also went to the allotments as a child, many years ago when we came down for a holiday. I remember uncle Bob, Terry, Arthur, Frank, Edward and auntie Nora, Violet and Betty.

By Maurice Price
On 19/08/2011

It is interesting to read all the comments from the descendants of Henry Purcell. His daughter Grace had 5 children, 4 daughters and one son. We all spent some happy times with our grandparents in Lewes Road and indeed down in the allotments. I can remember being covered in baby frogs from the pond and being an urban girl from 'up north' this was quite a big thing for me, only being about ten years old at the time. I would be interested to hear from any of the family members. My email address is available through the site.

By Margaret James
On 03/09/2011

I moved to the Valley Estate in the early 1970's our house was next door to the chicken farm, where I believe two sisters lived. The farm seemed to stretch right down to the bottom of the valley but this may well have been where the allotments were, which is all now housing Fullwood Ave etc. I played in the area to the side of Elm Court which we called the dump, this is now all housing, we used to have a bonfire there, it had been particarly dug out for many years I assume from some failed building project. I think that part of the chicken farm is now Ellis Gordon Court. My Mum used to get me to buy eggs from the two ladies. It was quite overgrown and at the time seemed quite mysterious.

By Nicola Honeyball
On 04/09/2011

Hi Valerie, our family lived next door to you in Western Road, at No. 95.

Myself, Sandra, Mum was Winifred, Dad was Les. Our brother Philip came along in the late 50's. Hope you get a chance to read this - I should have responded years ago !                                                  I hope life has been good for you in these intervening years.

Best wishes, Robert Harris

By Robert Harris
On 30/11/2017

Hello Robert, noticed your post, Val lives in Wolverhampton but I think picks up the site regularly, I couldn't help responding when I saw your dads name, I used to try and teach him to drive but he never seemed to get the hang of it but in return used to lend me his beloved E93A, happy days - Rob Vinall (Vals older brother)

By Rob Vinall
On 30/11/2017

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