Happy Childhood

A Memory of Burgess Hill

We moved from Balham to Burgess Hill in 1956. My parents had bought 267 Junction Road and then proceeded to renovate the house as it was in a shocking condition. Both my parents worked in London so I walked to my grandparents' house daily at 227 Junction Road. Saturday morning was time to go to Worlds End (by Wivelsfield Station). There was Scrace's, the butcher's - Mum mainly bought beef sausages as they were cheap and spicey - we had pork for a treat now and then. Further on was The Tuck Shop - a most amazing sweetshop. Very tiny but the selection was tremendous. Round the corner was the pub, the grocer's and on the opposite side of the road, the greengrocer's. Mum used to take her bike shopping at least twice on a Saturday and I used to go and spend my pocket money in The Tuck Shop. On the 'rec (recreation ground) there were swings and a roundabout. There used to be a fete or similar held there in the summer and the local teams used to play Stool Ball. My friend Carol lived along Gordon Road and all the children of the street used to play outside. We had a great time. The road was not made up for quite a while so cars had to go very slowly because of the potholes. We had bikes and scooters.
On the opposite side of Junction Road to our house there were a number of BIG houses behind fir trees of various types. I never got to see the houses but I believe they pulled them down to make way for a modern housing estate. At night I used to lie in bed and listen for the owls hooting.
My parents sent me to Dicker House School which was at the top of Junction Road, fairly close to Hoadley's in a big house. Following this I went to the PNEU School. The grounds of the school were vast (to me). We were housed in the junior school. On very bad weather days we were taken up into the top rooms of the school. This housed a museum of skeleton of birds and animals, fossils and other strange things. I've since found out that the house was Georgian and these rooms would have been the servants' quarters in days gone by. We had to wear galoshes over our shoes. I always saw the lacrosse stick of the senior pupils and wondered what it was all about. I had to stay to school lunch. We used to go to The Tower House Hotel at the junction of Silverdale and Junction Road - the food was disgusting! My doctors was on the opposite site of the road in a huge (probably 1920's) house. His name was Dr Lisle. I went to a party there once as his daughter was in the same class as me.
Back to Junction Road. In the summer when the weather was good sometimes we would go to play in the fields under the raliway line and on the right and left hand sides of the road on Leylands Road. Further along on the right was a huge house behind trees (again). I went there once with a friend from school. I just remember seeing greenhouses in a dreadful state of repair. Further along was Mill Lane (I think). Opposite was a gasometer. My mother and I used to go for walks on Sundays down the lane and up as far as the viaduct on the London to Brighton line beween Wivelsfield and Haywards Heath. We saw the remains of the mill, the mill pond and the streams with their rusty look from the iron. Mum used to use the ordnance survey maps to track down the public footpaths and then off we would go. Wellington boots and macs (garbardine) were the order of the day on most occasions.
The only time I really went to Burgess Hill was to the Goose Fair and to the Lido. It didn't seem to matter that the water was cold. We always had a great time. I just wasn't allowed to go when there were too many people. The cinema was a special treat - Mum used to take me now and then to an afternoon performance.
I just think I was so lucky having all the countryside round about; being able to ride a bike without fear of accident.

Funny, I always wondered what was behind the wall of the convent - a huge smooth red brick building opposite Hoadley's - does anyone know?

A memory shared by Fran White , on Aug 18th, 2009.

Comments & feedback

Wed Jul 29th 2015, at 5:53 am

Nigel Dawson commented:

I too was at Dicker House School in the mid 1950's before going to London Road Primary School, and my sister went to PNEU in Silverdale Road, where we also lived for a while from 1964- 67.
Mum and Dad had Jack & Jill cafe at 3 Keymer Parade in early 1960's

Sun Sep 13th 2015, at 12:16 pm

hils73 commented:

The convent was St Joseph's RC primary school. I attended there in the 1950s.

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