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21 December 2017

The Drive, Hove

Judy Middleton 2003 (revised 2018)

copyright © D.Sharp
Numbers 69, 71, 73, 77 and 79 in the early morning sunshine of December 2017


The road was laid out on land once forming part of the Stanford Estate. The eminent builder William Willett was responsible for the lay-out as well as the erection of many fine houses. The road was extremely spacious in its width, which was possible because it covered land that was previously used for agriculture and there was no restrictive building line. The broad width was supposed to accommodate a carriage and horses being able to turn around in comfort. Today the width is difficult to appreciate because of the tide of parked cars but where else in Brighton and Hove could one road accommodate a line of parked cars on either side plus two lines of parked cars in the middle and still allow the passage of traffic? Not surprisingly, in the 1870s the road’s original name was Grand Drive but had to be altered to avoid confusion with Grand Avenue.

 copyright © J.Middleton
This postcard presents the spaciousness of The Drive as it used to be before the invasion of cars.

The Hove Courier (8 April 1882) stated that some time previously the newspaper had mentioned the ‘large houses at the north west corner of The Drive, then being erected by Mr Willett. Since that time some really wonderful alterations and improvements have been made by this enterprising builder. The Drive north of Eaton Road at that time only consisted of two houses at the corner; now there are four noble mansions on each side, one containing over twenty rooms and valued at £7,800. Four of these are let or sold and the houses have been prettily laid out with plants and shrubs, and the trees on either side of the path just budding out, gives a pleasing aspect to this part of the spacious road, the whole estate from Wilbury Road to Cromwell Road in fact being greatly improved by the laying out of the roads with trees, protected with tree guards.’

In July 1884 the part of The Drive north of Eaton Road was declared a public highway and in December 1888 the part from Church Road to Eaton Road followed suit.

On 28 July 1889 the Shah of Persia paid a visit to Sir Albert Sassoon at his house in Brighton and during one of the Shah’s outings the Shah’s carriage travelled along The Drive, which the Sussex Daily News called ‘that noble thoroughfare’.

Lamps and Hydrants
copyright © J.Middleton
A swan-necked
electric lamp standard
that formerly stood 
in The Drive

In 1891 General Bond wrote to the Hove Commissioners asking for additional lamps at the ‘new Parish Church’ (All Saints) because the corner was a dark one. The surveyor reported that there were two lamps, one at the north west corner and the other at the south east corner. He recommended placing lamps at the two remaining corners plus one in Eaton Road near the south entrance to the church and re-arranging the two existing lamps between The Drive and Wilbury Road.

In 1892 Mr Head asked that the pillar lamp near The Conservatory should be lighted. The Commissioners replied that as soon as the owners had fitted one up, the Commissioners would light it at public expense. In January 1896 Mr Head asked for another lamp to be lit near his nursery and received a similar reply.

In 1893 Mr J.G. Rigby of Ingleside requested that the road leading to his house might be lit and watered. The reply was that if he installed a lamp at the intersection of The Drive and the Upper Drive, then the Commissioners would light it.

In March 1891 it was decided to fix two hydrants north of Eaton Road at a cost of £10 while in May of that year a standpipe was placed at the junction with the Upper Drive for street watering purposes.


In 1895 new asphalt paving was laid on the west side for a length of 360 feet between Church Road and Eaton Road at a cost of £197.

Designated Listed Buildings

copyright © J.Middleton
The Church of All Saints on the corner of The Drive and Eaton Road

24 March 1950 – Church of All Saints Grade I

2 November 1991 – number 16 The Gables designed by A. Creswell Grade II (see 'number 16' text below)

 copyright © D.Sharp
Numbers 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 63, 65, and 67 Grade II

2 November 1991 – numbers 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 63, 65, and 67 Grade II. All these houses were built in the 1880s of yellow stock bricks with lavish use of incised and moulded bricks.

copyright © D.Sharp
Numbers 69, 71, 73, 77 and 79 Grade II.

2 November 1991 – numbers 69, 71, 73, 77 and 79 Grade II. As a complete contrast these houses were built of red brick with terracotta dressings and decorations, steeply pitched roofs, oriel windows and some with terracotta dragons on the roofline. The architect Harry Bell Measures (1862-1940) designed the houses and William Willett was responsible for building them. The inspiration was a Flemish / Queen Anne Revival style. 

It is indeed fortunate that these houses (69-79) are still standing for all of us to enjoy today. Back in the 1960s / 1970s, when Victorian architecture was not greatly admired, Hove Borough Council actively encouraged the re-development of The Drive leading to the demolition of some houses and the creation of high-rise flats. Michael Ray, Hove Borough Planning Officer in the 1970s, became greatly concerned about these particular houses and initiated a campaign to have them given listed building status; this campaign attracted high status supporters including Sir John Betjeman. The petition was duly presented to the relevant government department but Lady Birk (1917-1996) Planning Minister in the Labour government, refused to act. Fortunately for these houses, some years later, the Department of the Environment carried out a new survey on Hove and these buildings were added to the List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest.

copyright © D.Sharp
A terracotta griffin and dragon on the roof of number 73.

House Notes

Number 3 – In September 1917 Princess Christian visited this house, the residence of Countess van der Stegen, to see an exhibition of Belgian lace. The Princess was President of the Royal School of Needlework and so found the exhibition of interest. She was also one of the founders of the British Red Cross. She was born Princess Helena (1846-1923) the third daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But she became known as Princess Christian in 1866 when she married Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. Princess Christian had laid the foundation stone of the Police Seaside Home in Portland Road, Hove, on 29 October 1892.

copyright © D.Sharp
Numbers 3 and 5 The Drive

Number 5 – The Drive Prep School opened here at the end of 1996 and there was a maximum of twelve pupils. By contrast with State Schools, where consideration was being given to the dropping of French from the curriculum, the prep school would begin teaching children French from the age of four.

 copyright © D.Sharp
After initial objections, The Drive Prep School is
now well established at 101 The Drive
The school catered for children from the age of three to thirteen. Sue Parkinson was the head and she also taught drama. In 1997 three pupils took first, second and third place in the poetry section of Worthing Speech and Drama Competition.

The school became such a success that prospective pupils were being turned away. Expansion was hoped for and one solution would be to lease 101 The Drive, which was then Drive Lodge Residential Home.

But the idea was unpopular with nearby elderly residents. Planning permission would only be granted if the number of pupils did not exceed eighty. From the school’s point of view it would be an ideal place because it meant they would not have to change the name. In June 2000 the school was seeking planning permission for a change of use at number 101. Some 47 residents of nearby Homedrive House, a sheltered housing scheme, signed a petition against the scheme.

Number 10 – Sir Alfred Sergeant, Mayor of Hove 1914-1919, lived in this house. He was thus Mayor during the difficult years of the Great War and took a prominent part in the peace celebrations.

Number 11 – According to the 1887 Street Directory Miss Pyke and Miss Solomon ran a girls’ school called Pombal House here.

Number 14
copyright © D.Sharp
Number 14

Frances Drummond-Roberts lived in this house from 1912 to 1962. She was the daughter of Captain George R. Drummond, Chief Constable of West Sussex 1879-1912. Like many young ladies she kept a diary. But unusually, her diary (dating from June 1914 to June 1915) was a miniature one, measuring one square inch with a beautiful silver-embossed cover of cherubs’ heads made by Liberty. She was obliged to make her diary entries in tiny handwriting, possibly with the aid of a magnifying glass. She wrote about her social life, visits to the theatre and the Sassoons but there was no mention of war. However, she did record the death of Field Marshal Lord Roberts; was there a family connection or was it because he was a national hero? (There is a possibility that Lord Roberts once went to school at Hove).

In 1984 American professional couple Fred Bolling and Val Withington discovered the diary at a London market and purchased it because it was a beautiful object. But when they came to read the contents, they were fascinated because it provided a snapshot of a vanished past. They stated they intended to write a work of fiction based on the diary.

Number 15 / 17 Hovedene Hotel

copyright © D.Sharp 
Hovedene Hotel has been boarded up for many years and still awaiting improvements
 (photographed in December 2017)

Florence Cregeen ran two hotels in Streatham, London, before moving to Hove and opening Hovedene Hotel in January 1939. In those days the hotel let out rooms that people furnished for themselves. A double room cost 42/- a week and a single room cost 21/- a week. Guests could eat in the hotel dining room for only 1/-. Indeed they were obliged to eat some meals in-house because one of the conditions of residence was that they had to spend 10/- a week in the restaurant. When the war ended the hotel began to cater for bucket-and-spade holidaymakers.

Mary Phillips (1880-1969) the suffragette, lived at the Hovedene Hotel from 1967 until her death in 1969. In 1907 she joined the Women’s Social and Political Union and became an organizer. She was one of 50 women who in March 1908 mounted a protest deputation to Parliament and was arrested and sentenced to six weeks in Holloway Prison. A further arrest in June 1908 resulted in a 3-month sentence making her the longest serving suffragette prisoner. She worked for Christabel Pankhurst in 1913, but was sacked, because she had been dissatisfied with her work as a WSPU organiser; she then worked for Sylvia Pankhurst in the East End of London,
Later in life she worked for the Save the Children Fund and the Children’s International League. In 1957 she published The Militant Suffragette in Perspective and in 1968 she took part in the Golden Jubilee of Women’s Suffrage.

In February 1989 Hovedene Hotel celebrated its Golden Jubilee with the same family at the helm. Andrew Cregeen, Florence’s grandson, ran the establishment assisted by his wife Lesley and mother Viola. Philip Cregeen, Andrew and Lesley’s son, was in charge of the kitchen and he had studied catering locally.

In 1989 Andrew Cregeen introduced his fortnightly musical teas with Grenville Eaton at the piano. A one hundred-year old aspidistra graced the top of the piano, the original plant owner being Viola’s great-grandmother. By the 1990s the hotel was well known for its musical teas and themed evenings with dinner and entertainment from around the world.

In 1991 Andrew Cregeen described himself as the original Basil Fawlty of TV fame. His height made him an unmistakable character and he had a show business background, once treading the boards with stars such as Ken Dodd, Dickie Henderson, Jimmy Clitheroe and The Seekers. He also enjoyed a spell as Entertainments Officer for the Isle of Wight.. He said his biggest mistake was not taking a part in a James Bond film when it was offered to him. His guests certainly enjoyed his banter and the musical evenings he organised. His grandfather Ralph Butler wrote popular songs from the 1930s to the 1970s including such favourites as The Sun Has Got His Hat On / Run, Rabbit, Run and Nellie the Elephant in collaboration with other writers. Andrew Gregeen’s great-grandfather sang as head bass at Westminster Abbey.

Hovedene Hotel closed its doors for the last time in April 1995. It is said the property was snapped up by a holding company. By August 1999 an application was before the council to erect a ground floor extension, create a lift shaft, make a car park at the rear and build a basement passage connecting numbers 15 and 17.

On the 15 January 2013, regarding a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000: Ref: foi/028/12, Brighton and Hove City Council stated:- ‘15/17 The Drive (two large properties south of Courtlands Hotel) are not residential properties as they were formerly another hotel – Hovedene – but have now been empty for some time. There was a planning application in October 2006 asking for ‘Ground and lower ground floor refurbishment construction of health club to lower ground floor and ground floor kitchen extension’. This was refused and there has been no further planning activity since then.‘

Number 16

copyright © D.Sharp
Number 16 'The Gables'

This house was called The Gables and it was sold by auction in May 1923. The property contained three handsome reception rooms, ten bedrooms, a bathroom, a conservatory and a large garden.

Number 18

copyright © Trevor Cox
Number 18, inset Mrs Otto Pollak

The house was built in 1894 and was an asymmetrical mansion whose south side jutted out at an angle and whose main roof decoration was not in line with the main entrance. It followed a Dutch decorated style, similar to those in Lewer’s Terrace (on the south side of Church Road, west of Hove Library). Mr and Mrs Otto Pollak lived in this house from 1914.
copyright © D.Sharp  
Normandy Court built on the site of 
Mrs Pollak's former home

During the Great War Mrs Frances Winnie Pollak worked tirelessly on behalf of wounded and convalescent soldiers who were sent to military hospitals in Brighton and Hove. ‘At all hours of the day and the night this lady met the convoy of wounded men as they arrived at the railway station with a gift of cigarettes and stamped postcards for each man.’ The postcards were used to inform a soldier’s family of his whereabouts. Mrs Pollak also organised outings and excursions for the convalescents and was frequently to be found ferrying soldiers to and from parties.

In August 1915 she held one of her own at the house in The Drive. It was a large affair and the tables were decorated with white marguerites, single yellow marigolds and gypsophila. After tea photographs of the company were taken in the garden. Mrs Pollak earned the popular designation of ‘the friend of brave men’ or ‘the soldier’s friend’. On one occasion a postcard was sent from Buenos Aires addressed to ‘Mrs Pollak, the Soldier’s Friend, Brighton’ and it was delivered safely. She was even Mentioned in Despatches for her work. It seems that Otto Pollock died in the 1920a and from around 1927 to around 1932 Mrs Pollok continued to live at number 18. By 1934 a surgeon lived there. In 1959 the house was demolished and Normandy Court was built on the site.

Number 20

copyright © D.Sharp 
Number 20 - Burnett's former home in December 2017, which seems to have been
borded up for some time from the evidence of weeds growing through the barriers. 
Dr Burnett and his large family lived here in some style from 1897 to the end of the Great War. There were no less than thirteen bedrooms. But then there were twelve children to accommodate, five from Dr Burnett’s first marriage, and seven from his second marriage. The eldest child of the latter was the famous and undervalued Ivy Compton-Burnett (1884-1969). On 18 January 1989 a blue plaque commemorating her association with the house was unveiled. But sad to say she never liked Hove, calling it ‘a horrid, horrid place’ while the children designated the residence as ‘that hideous house’. However, much of this antipathy was no doubt related to a dysfunctional family dynamic.

 Number 22

copyright © D.Sharp 
Number 22 - Arundel House

Arundel House was one of the first purpose-built block of flats to be erected at Hove. Mr Barnes was responsible for building it in 1898. It is interesting to note that a Mr Joseph David Barnes erected two terraces of houses in Wolseley Road, Portslade, in 1897 called Diamond Terrace and Jubilee Terrace; their style could not be more different to Arundel House.
copyright © J.Middleton
A drawing of the unique sky-line of Arundel House.

It is certainly one of the most distinctive buildings in The Drive and indeed in Hove as a whole.

Its wealth of detail in red brick and terracotta embellishments against a blue sky is a sight well worth seeing. In 1976 Michael Ray, Chief Planning Officer of Hove, said the exterior reminded him of St James’s Palace and he would like to see it listed with the Department of the Environment for its architectural interest. In September 1994 an apartment at Arundel House was on sale for £149,500. It was on the second floor and contained three bedrooms while the lounge with an east / west aspect measured 23 feet 6 inches by 18 feet.

Numbers 25 / 27 Courtland’s Hotel

copyright © D.Sharp
The Courtlands Hotel in December 2017

The hotel was first mentioned in the 1921 Directory at these numbers. In a local guide for 1949-1950 it was described as ‘a Private Hotel of Distinction … in a quiet and exclusive position in Hove’s finest thoroughfare, yet near the shops, main bus routes and sea front.’ The hotel had over 50 bedrooms, many of them with private bathrooms and they all had telephones. The beds were provided with Vi-Spring mattresses, there was central heating, a lift to all floors, a night porter and an attractive garden. Mr and Mrs W.S. Miller were the proprietors. By 1951 the hotel had extended to include number 23.
  copyright © J.Middleton
This was the Programme of Festivities laid on for guests at 
Christmas 1949.

The Cutress family took over the running of the hotel in the 1960s. The Cutresses ran the Forfar’s catering company and also such well known eateries as the Pump House in Brighton and the Eaton Restaurant in Hove. Mrs June Cutress (wife of John Cutress, one of the directors) created the interior décor. She was the daughter of W.J. Ring who ran a long established furnishing business in Western Road, Hove. She gave the bedrooms individual colour schemes, while mosaic tiles paved the entrance hall. The ground floor bar was re-named the Golden Dolphin Bar from the dolphins supporting the small round tables. A magnificent Aubusson tapestry, incorporating a dolphin motif, was commissioned to hang in the hall.

In Sussex Life (March 1973) Courtlands was described as ‘a most surprising Hotel, since the sedate bay-windowed residential houses that line this part of the Drive give no indication of the luxury behind the Edwardian façades.’ There was enough seating in the busy restaurant to accommodate 100 people and the room was decorated with crimson-flocked wallpaper plus framed prints of 19th century Brighton. The residents’ lounge boasted ‘yellow velvet armchairs of a rich and comfortable appearance’. Giuseppe Messina was the manager.

In January 1995 John Cutress, director, said he hoped Courtlands would be the first hotel in Brighton and Hove to have its own swimming pool. It would be built in the garden of 58-bedroom, three-star hotel and would measure 30 feet by 15 feet and cost around £50,000. Architect Simon Yauner (son-in-law of John and June Cutress) and Michael Hammond of Newcroft designed the pool, which had a dolphin mural and was covered by a Victorian-style conservatory. On 29 June 1985 the pool was officially opened with a party with celebrity guest Alan Weeks, the sports commentator. The hotel also had solarium and a spa whirlpool. 

In February 1987 John Cutress sold the Eaton restaurant to the Feld Group for £200,000 and in December 1987 the Cutress family also sold Courtlands. John Cutress said he was now aged 67 and had decided to retire.
In November 1988 it was reported that Giuseppe Messina, manager, had left the hotel after 27 years of service. But it appears he must have been persuaded to return because in May 1995 he was still at the hotel.

In 1989 the restaurant was re-furbished and decorated in Regency style with blue curtains placed at the windows. But by August 1991 Courtlands was in trouble and accountants Touche Ross were running the place whilst looking for someone to take it over as a going concern. In March 1992 there was some publicity to encourage the booking of wedding receptions. The Terrace was claimed to be an ideal spot overlooking swimming pool and patio and surrounded by a rose garden.

In March 1994 plans were submitted for a new atrium, winter garden, grand staircase and four new bedrooms. Planning permission was granted in May 1994. In December 1994 some 40 policemen and their partners enjoyed a Christmas dinner at Courtlands and many of them spent the night at the hotel. While they were fast asleep burglars broke in and stole £500 worth of drink and cigars, plus cash from the till. In May 1995 Courtlands Hotel Ltd went into liquidation but manager Giuseppe Messina said it was still business as usual.
By July 2000 new owners of the Courtlands submitted plans to build a four-storey extension to include a ground floor function room and fifteen bedrooms; planning permission was granted in February 2001.

Number 30
copyright © D.Sharp
Number 30 

Mrs Gerald Moor occupied this house from 1933 to 1936. Her Christian names were Alice Mary and she was the daughter of Revd T.H. Cole. In June 1896 she married Revd Gerald Moor who became vicar of Christ Church, Brighton from 1902 to 1905, and vicar of Preston from 1905 to 1916 when he died at the age of 65. Mrs Gerald Moor was well known for her generosity and kindness, perhaps her most valuable gift being a large house called Elfinsward at Haywards Heath that she donated in 1927 to the Diocese of Chichester. It cost (with endowment) in the region of £20,000 and it was intended to become a diocesan retreat, guest house and conference centre. She donated the chancel window in St Peter’s Church, Preston, plus the Church of the Good Shepherd, together with the greater part of the church hall in memory of her husband. When a new Church of the Good Shepherd was established at Mile Oak, the old building (popularly known as the tin hut) was donated to Portslade by the Brighton Good Shepherd and Mrs Gerald Moor. She died on 8 September 1936 and was buried at Forest Row.

Today the building is occupied by Natural Balance, which is one of Brighton’s biggest centre’s for therapeutic massage and since opening in 2007 has expanded to offer osteopathy, acupuncture, private yoga classes and beauty treatments.

Number 31 – This house was built in the 1880s and demolished in 1959. A block of flats called Bowen Court was later built on the site.

Number 46

copyright © D.Sharp
Number 46

Medina College for Ladies was located in this house from 1918 to 1936. The establishment was previously at Medina Villas and was known as Heidelberg House, where the headmistress had once enjoyed holidays. But no doubt the name had to be changed during the Great War due to the high level of anti-German feeling.

Number 55

copyright © D.Sharp
Number 55 'Catisfield House' 

In September 1989 Catisfield House celebrated its 50th anniversary. The original Catisfield House was situated in the Sussex countryside, the gift of Miss Greene in her will written in 1924; it was to be used as a convalescent home for ‘poor ladies’. The Rose Elizabeth Greene Charitable Trust was responsible for running the establishment. The house soon proved to be too small for its purpose and another house was purchased at Brighton. Then that house too was sold and the house in The Drive was purchased in 1939. By 1989 it was stated the premises could accommodate some twenty women and the fees were around £140 a week.

By 1996 there were both male and female residents and it was still a convalescent home with Chris Robins being the matron. In June 1996 a garden party was held in order to raise funds towards the £1,500 needed for refurbishment. In July 1999 it was announced that Catisfield House, a Grade 11 listed Victorian building, had been sold for £541,399 to Bradford Investment Properties. It seemed likely the property would be converted into flats. Meanwhile, the proceeds of the sale went to the Victoria Convalescent Trust.

Number 56
copyright © D.Sharp
Number 56
During thr 1930s the Guhl family lived here. Mr Guhl was the boss of the British branch of the German chemical and engineering firm of J.G. Farben. The two sons, Gunther Louis and Wolfgang, attended Claremont School, a prep school in Lansdowne Road, and afterwards went to Brighton College. The brothers played cricket and rugby and were enthusiastic members of the college’s debating society. Gunther left Brighton College in 1938 and went to university in Geneva. But when war broke out he was in Germany. Soon both brothers were in the Army. Gunter served in the elite 7th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. He had been newly promoted to Captain when he was killed in his tank near Rheims on 27 August 1944 aged 24. The first time that Brighton College archivist, Martin Jones (head of history) heard of Gunter Guhl was when Wolfgang, then aged 74, wrote to the headmaster in 1995. In May 1996 it was felt appropriate to add Gunter Guhl’s name to the college’s Roll of Honour commemorating the war dead. Inscribed within its pages are the names of 4 schoolmasters and 164 former pupils. 

In more recent times the house was noted for being home to the Swan Tandoori restaurant. It was by far the most spacious curry house in Hove. Patrons waited in an elegant room with a bar looking out over The Drive and when your meal was ready to be served, you were ushered down a spiral staircase to the restaurant. This had views over a pleasant garden and on the south side the bulk of All Saints Church formed a backdrop. In November 1993 ten men were arrested shortly after 4 a.m. in an attack on the Swan Tandoori; apparently it was the result of a long-running feud about ownership of the restaurant. 

In March 1995 the business went bankrupt. The same month the restaurant was re-launched under the name of the Surma Valley after the place name to be found in the foothills of the Himalayas. But of course the ‘swan’ motif remained etched in the window. In January 1999 the owner was fined £100 for serving alcohol without a licence although he claimed it was an oversight. But when a licence was applied for, it was refused until work was undertaken to conform to fire regulations, and could cost as much as £10,000. This was the last straw and soon plans were put before the council to change the premises into self-contained flats.

Number 58

copyright © D.Sharp
Number 58, the former home of William Willett of 'Willett built' fame

William Willett lived in this house from 1883 until his death. The Directories number it as 58 but in 1889 it was given as number 64, presumably after re-numbering. He was such a famous builder and contractor that when he died in 1913, his passing merited a mention in The Times. He built houses at Kensington and Hampstead, and at Hove in Cromwell Road, Eaton Gardens, Eaton Road, Second Avenue, The Drive and Wilbury Road. William Willett’s houses were so well built and individual that the accolade of ‘Willett-built’ enhances their value to this day.

Mr J.W. Lister, Chief Librarian of Hove, wrote the following touching tribute. ‘The work of Mr Willett, senior, is a triumph of private enterprise and Hove cane neither estimate nor repay the debt she owes this worthy citizen … The quietest and most unassuming of men without advantage of birth, wealth or scholarship, he built upon the foundations of a good and honest heart … He was a pillar of Nonconformity and was given to charity and hospitality.’ In 1893 the Willett Estate Office was at 79 The Drive. William Booth (1829-1912) the famous founder of the Salvation Army paid at least three visits to Hove. In October 1879 he stayed at Wick Hall, which he did not find congenial. He wrote ‘For the sake of The Army and the souls of the people I sat fully one hour and a half over twelve courses of dinner with half a dozen worldly, godless people.’ General Booth stayed with William Willett in 1887 and obviously found him more to his liking. By 1887 there were 1,000 separate corps of Salvationists in England besides those abroad. General Booth paid his final visit to Hove on 6 April 1910.

Number 64 – Bernhard Baron lived in this house, which he called Elim,  from around 1915 to 1929. He was the wealthy manufacturer of such popular cigarettes as Craven A, Turf and Black Cat. During the Great War he hired St Ann’s Well Gardens in order to hold a party for wounded soldiers including some Indian soldiers. Souvenir photographs were taken of the occasion and Baron cut a dapper figure in his dark suit with high wing collar and bowler hat; he also sported a goatee beard. Baron donated a hut for the use of wounded soldiers at the 2nd Eastern Hospital and in 1919 when it was no longer needed, he paid for it to be removed and re-erected at Marmion Road, Hove, where the YMCA were happy to make use of it.

copyright © D.Sharp
Numbers 66 and 64

Number 66 – It is interesting to note that up until the 1990s this house was still in the possession of the Willett Estate. In September 1993 the Willett Estate sold this property as an investment for £125,000, which yielded a rent income from four flats of £9,695 a year.

Number 78 – It was situated on the corner of the Upper Drive and had a large chimneystack rising above pitched roofs. In 1961 the house was demolished and replaced by a block of flats called Lincoln Court.

Number 81

 copyright © J.Middleton
The imposing 81 The Drive was captured by local photographer John Barrow shortly before its demolition.

A letter dated 14 March 1898 was sent from Charles Nye, 34 Duke Street, Brighton, to H.H. Scott, Hove Borough Surveyor, with revised plans for Dr C.E. Whitcher’s house. It seems the authority wanted the house set further back from the road and Dr Whitcher achieved this by purchasing an additional 3-foot frontage to The Drive. The plans were finally approved on 14 April 1898. The property also included stables situated in Wilbury Avenue next to number 81’s garden on the west side.

  copyright © J.Middleton
This beautiful window with burgundy-coloured leaves 
once adorned the landing at 81 The Drive.
 Note the small door installed at the bottom right to give 
the tenants of Flat 3 access to a tiny terrace outside.
The basement contained a laboratory, scullery, kitchen and larder. But the chief glory was the morning room, a spacious room with a double set of French windows facing west over the sunken garden. The windows were a great delight in a hot summer but made the room rather cold during the depths of winter. Perhaps to give an illusion of warmth the fireplace took up practically the entire space of the south wall. Although the biscuit-coloured tiles were pedestrian enough, above the fireplace there arose a carved and fluted over-mantel with a stained-glass window on either side. At ceiling level within a carved cornice there was a portrait painting of a child and a woman on either side. The floor was wood but most of the rest of the basement was covered with red quarry tiles. On the first floor there was a dining room, library, consulting room, drawing room and pantry. The second floor contained six bedrooms and a bathroom while the spacious attic contained four more bedrooms plus two box-rooms. The large upper landing window was filled by beautiful stained glass of burgundy-coloured stylised leaves that looked especially fine when the evening light shone through it.
Dr Whitcher’s former residence was called Wardley and was situated in Somerhill Avenue. But it seems Dr Whitcher did not occupy 81 The Drive for long. From 1912 to 1916 Mrs Watson ran a ladies’ school on the premises called Norlandholme. This school was established in around 1889 at 36 The Drive (later re-numbered to 48) when Clara Mansfield ran it. Later the school moved to 20 The Drive.

copyright © D.Sharp
The coat of arms, presumably belonging to 
Dr C.E. Whitcher, still in its original site at 
81 The Drive.
In 1916 A.H. Lainson submitted plans on behalf of Mr C.R.J. Evans to convert the house into flats. In fact plans for flats were submitted at least three times before they were approved. By the 1930s flats had become a reality and the building became known as Drive Court.

The Sharp family lived in Flat 1 and held the record for the longest tenancy, occupying the flat for over 50 years, in fact until the property was demolished. Flat 1 included the delightful garden with two William pear trees espaliered on the west wall, a lusty fig tree that leaned so heavily on the shed that the roof eventually collapsed, a wall facing south yielding large blackberries in late summer, and two buddleias where red admiral and peacock butterflies were regularly seen on the flowers. Rumour had it that a former resident had been something of a plant collector from foreign parts and there was indeed an enormously tall tree with a smooth trunk, various clumps of bamboo and a rare arum vulgaris jacularis whose unexpected flowering merited a photo in the local Press. The flower was dramatic-looking being purple with a green ‘spear’ but smelled revolting and attracted bluebottles.

Mr Pitcan owned the whole property in the 1940s and 1950s and lived in Flat 2. In the 1950s and 1960s Sir Alexander Ramsay and his wife lived in Flat 2.

copyright © D.Sharp
Number 81, note the red coat of arms behind the tree in almost the same location as it was on the original building.

The property was demolished in 1988 / 1989. Apparently, the house was not worth preserving because it had been built without a damp course. The developers carefully removed the terracotta coat of arms adorning the south wall and fixed it in a similar position on the new block of flats called St James’s Court. Unlike so many modern blocks, St James’s Court is pleasing to the eye. In 1993 it was stated the flats were one of the first new developments to comply fully with stringent new fire regulations; all twelve apartments were fitted with smoke detectors linked to a central unit. Two-bedroom apartments were on sale from £69,950 to £74,950.

Number 87

copyright © D.Sharp
87 The Drive 

For some reason when this block of flats was built the developer could not think of an appropriate name and it is known simply as 87 The Drive. Part of the block covers ground once occupied by grass tennis courts belonging to the Grasshoppers Tennis Club, now diminished to three hard courts. The club moved to this site in 1916. Previously, it had been at St Ann’s Well Gardens and was named after an old property there called Grasshopper Cottage.

 copyright © D.Sharp
Grasshoppers Lawn Tennis Club's courts behind the block of flats of  '87 The Drive'.

Next door to the Grasshopper’s Tennis Club was a grand house set well back from the road and once owned by the Horton-Ledger family who were connected with the Sussex Mutual Building Society. Another block of flats called Homedrive House, a sheltered housing scheme, has replaced this property.

Number 105

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Number 105 

This double-fronted house was built in 1899 and there is a plaque in the gable recording this fact. By the 1990s there were still many original features such as part-panelled walls, tiled floors, brass door-knobs and finger-plates, and old fireplaces. The entrance hall, measured a generous 23 feet by 9 feet and a sweeping staircase ascended to a galleried landing. The drawing room had an inglenook fireplace and measured 23 feet by 17 feet. There was impressive fireplace in the dining room with marble slips and a slate hearth, the room measuring 16 feet by 13 feet. The study measured 19 feet by 14 feet and had an arched fireplace. The kitchen was 21 feet by 14 feet while a large double-glazed conservatory served as a family room. The house had six or seven bedrooms and five bathrooms. There was a double garage. The 88-foot garden contained fruit trees, a walled garden and a summer-house. In February 1993 the house was put for sale at £395,000. In October 1998 the residence was on the property market again for £550,000. There were no takers and the house was still for sale some seventeen months later. In April 2003 it was stated that the Samson family had lived in the house for the past eight years and now it was on sake for £1,300,000.

Number 106

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Number 106

In 1946 Crescent House was established in this property. In 1866 Mrs Marshman decided to try and help ‘those defenceless women in workshops, houses of business and commercial establishments, who toil for hours with no redress for a mere pittance’. The idea was to provide a holiday home for such women and the first one was opened in 1867 at the east end of Brighton. In June 1877 some 60 guests moved to alternative premises at 66 Marine Parade. The Home continued there until 1940 when the property was requisitioned. Somewhere along the way, the idea of a holiday home for working women was abandoned and by the time of the move to The Drive, the work was on a much smaller scale and provided accommodation for just sixteen invalid ladies. The Home was still going strong in the 1960s with four of the five trustees being Mrs Marshman’s grandchildren.


The Conservatory

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In 1898 plans for this structure were approved and William Willet was the builder. In the 1907 Directory it was named as the Eaton Conservatory and Nurseries and Henry Head was the proprietor.
In November 1992 the Conservatory re-opened as a convenience store and Bipin and Anju Patel owned it. By July 2000 Anju Patel was fed up with the security situation because she had been raided eight times. The council refused to allow her to install white roller blinds because the shop was in a conservation area. Instead the council suggested internal and external grills but Mrs Patel was not keen on them. She considered shutting up shop for good. In May 2002 Mrs Patel was in the news again, this time grumbling about re-surfacing work going on in The Drive. She said customers had to walk over wet tar to reach the shop while the deliveryman had given up trying to bring in goods to her. In addition work had been going on at The Drive bridge since 4 March.
Nowadays, the Conservatory specialises in antiques.

Drive Bridge

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The view from the The Drive bridge looking west to Hove Station and the former Dubarry Perfumery.

The original three-arched bridge was built in 1839 / 1840 and was replaced by a new bridge over the railway line in 1876 / 1877. However, no vehicle weighing more than three tons was allowed to use it. In 1935 it was reported that the bridge was in a weak state. But nothing was done for years because it took time to establish who actually was responsible for it. Until 1931 the railway company had maintained the structure while from 1926 Hove Council took care of the road surface and sent the bill to the railway company.

The Sussex County Magazine (May 1953) reported that the ‘difficult and delicate negotiations’ had at last been completed. The go-ahead had been given for the re-construction and it was expected to cost in the region of £24,000. The Ministry of Transport agreed to pay 75% of the cost while East Sussex County Council and Hove Council shared the remaining balance. The railway company made a grant of £2,000 towards the cost. The bridge was made of pre-stressed concrete with forty horizontal beams to cover the 61-foot span. The new Drive Bridge was opened on 26 June 1954. There is a plaque on the west side to record the event and also the names of T.R. Humble, Hove Borough Surveyor, and H.E. Lunn, East Sussex County Council, surveyor, plus the appropriate coat of arms. The final cost came to £29,605.

Eaton Manor

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Eaton Manor

This major development was built on the once spacious grounds of a private house. Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society was responsible for the development in the 1960s and Hubbard Ford & Partners of 67 Church Road, Hove, were the architects. Phase I, consisting of 74 flats was completed by January 1969 with Phase II, also consisting of 74 flats, followed in around two years.

Notable people who lived there are as follows:
Dimitri de Grunwald died aged 76 in May 1990. He collaborated with his brother Anatole to make The Way to the Stars and The Winslow Boy. In 1960 he produced the British film The Millionairess starring Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren.
Brian Ralfe was another show-business personality who lived here. In December 1997 he gave a memorable Christmas party at his flat. Guests included Chris Ellison, several cast members of East-enders including Paul Moriarty (George Palmer) Mona Hammond (Blossom) Victoria Gould (Polly the journalist) and Harry Landis (Felix the hairdresser). Lord Bassam, council leader, and MPs Des Turner and David Lepper were also in attendance. It was claimed that seventy bottles of champagne were consumed.

David Spector (1912-1997) He always took an interest in politics and in 1934 took part in a violent demonstration against Oswald Mosley. Within two days of the Second World War being declared he had enlisted in the Army. He later volunteered to join the Jewish Brigade where he rose to the rank of brigade Major. Spector served at the front line in Algeria and later in Italy where the Jewish Brigade distinguished itself against crack German forces. As the war ended he helped thousands of Holocaust survivors to make their way to Palestine. Some of the officers he trained, later became senior officers in the Israeli Army. Besides his British war medals, he was also awarded two Israeli ones. He retired from the City in 1975 but kept up his interest in Middle East affairs becoming something of an expert on the subject. Another abiding interest was the history of Jewry in Brighton and Hove from 1776 and the many distinguished Jewish families with local connections; he became a well-known writer and speaker on the subject. For some years he was treasurer and trustee of the Middle Street Synagogue and led a campaign to have it re-furbished and declared a listed building, which it is now.


The first tennis courts in The Drive were situated south of Cromwell Road and between the Drive and Wilbury Road. William Willet was responsible for their establishment, which he did specifically to enhance the facilities of the neighbourhood, where he was engaged in extensive house building. Nash’s Stranger’s Guide (1885) had this to say:

Mr Willett has laid down in a central position on the estate some three acres as The Drive Lawn Tennis Club and Recreation Grounds. These gardens with their rustic summer-houses and banks well stocked with evergreens and trees, which form a screen from the surrounding roads, add to the charm of the place.’

It was later known as the Wilbury Lawn Tennis Club. In the 1953 Town Map the area was designated as an open space with seven tennis courts.

In April 1957 outline planning consent was granted for the development of the site for residential flats and garages but nothing came of it.

In 1968 Hove Council granted planning permission to Seeboard for 61,525 square feet of office accommodation plus 200 car-parking spaces for Seeboard’s HQ. As a result of this planning permission Seeboard purchased the site for around £100,000. In 1970 planning permission for a larger building was refused. This setback was followed by two further schemes, one in July 1973 and the second in August 1964 but both were turned down,. Seeboard then appealed against Hove Council’s decision but this too was dismissed. By this time the two earlier planning permissions had lapsed and there were no consents for the land.

Many people would have preferred the site remaining open ground as laid down in the Town Map, and Michael Ray, Hove’s Chief Planning Officer, supported this view. Unfortunately, Hove councillors voted five to three in favour of turning the site over for housing. Sidney Green, a company director living in The Drive, offered to buy the site at open space value and present it to Hove. This generous gesture cut no ice with Seeboard who were determined to sell it as viable building land, which would raise the price to £200,000.

Sheltered housing for elderly people were duly built, which were to be called Elizabeth House and Philip House. Perhaps house was thought too prosaic. At any rate by February 1979 Muriel Edelshain, chairman of the housing committee, had changed them to Elizabeth Court (east block) and Philip Court (west block). The flats cost £1.3 million to build and were finished by 1981. Peter Gladwin, Mayor of Hove, officially opened them in May 1982.

There were other tennis clubs in The Drive too. Grasshoppers Tennis Club moved to The Drive in 1916 from its previous home in St Ann’s Well Gardens. (See under number 87). Then there was the Pavilion Lawn Tennis Club, just off the Drive in Wilbury Avenue. By 1997 it was known as the Pavilion and Avenue Lawn Tennis Club and was moving to a new site in The Droveway. The club was given planning permission to build houses on its former courts. But to compensate for the loss of open space, the club paid £40,000 towards a multi-sports area in Stoneham Park

The Drive Bowling Club

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The Drive Bowling Club

The club was established at its present site in 1905. Originally, the club was called the Sussex County Bowling Club but when the County Association got under way, the name had to be changed. First of all it was The Drive Bowling Green and then in 1934 it became The Drive Bowling Club.

There are six rinks and one full-size green. A path runs down a steep bank with dense bushes on either side, which makes the approach resemble a secret tunnel. From the north comes the sound of passing trains. The land was once part of the Stanford Estate but in 1877 William Willett, the noted builder, leased the site and it was subsequently sold to him.

By 1919 both William Willet, senior, and William Willet, junior, had died, and the next heir had died in 1917. This left Revd Charles James Sharp as the sole executor to administer the will. The clergyman also held the title to the bowling green, which on 21 April 1920 was sold to the club for £1,200 with the condition that it must only be used as a bowling green, tennis ground, garden or other open space. This sale had to be agreed by court and Ellen Thomas-Stanford, as beneficial owner, also signed the conveyance. The men who purchased the ground on behalf of the club were as follows:

Charles Gosling, 61 Church Road, Hove
Dr Edmund Hobhouse, 12 Second Avenue
Arthur Nye, 13 Sackville Gardens
Thomas Wilkinson, North Street, Brighton
Hammon Weare, 22 The Drive

The conveyance was actually drawn up on 16 July 1919 but legal niceties meant it did not become valid until some nine months later.

In 1972 the old single-storey clubhouse was extended by placing a first floor on top at a cost of £6,200. No doubt it was a practical solution but the design smacks of a Sixties slab whereas the original edifice had a certain old-world charm.

In 1998 the club finally caught up with the modern world by allowing females to become full members for the first time; there were around fourteen members of the ladies’ section.

In 1951 the annual subscription was 5 guineas
In 1973 it was £10-50
In the 1990s it was £100

Early presidents of the club were as follows:

1907-1914 Alex Mackintosh JP
1915-1918 Revd S.B. Field
1919 Charles Gosling
1920 Dr E.H. Booth
1921 Dr C.B. Richardson
1922-1924 Sir George Casson Walker
1925 Revd H. Ross Williamson
1926-1929 Sidney Herbert JP
1933-1934 Claude Ismay
1934-1935 Arthur Henderson JP
1938 Claude Ismay
1941-1943 Percy Bennett CMG
1946-1950 Brigadier General Sir Herbert Wilberforce KBE, CB, CMG

Some distinguished club members were as follows:

Sir Walter Bull
De Edgar Colin-Jones
John Costello, chief cashier of the Bank of England
Brigadier Peter Crosthwaite
Jack Davies CMG, OBE
Lieutenant Colonel D.S. Dean
Colonel T.B.A. Evans-Lombe OBE
John French, MC
Lieutenant Colonel Bill Griffiths, DSO, MC
Commander J.S. Hoad RN
Lieutenant Colonel Reggie Jeffes
Sir Raymond Jennings QC
Lieutenant Colonel H. Leapman
Howard Longden, OBE, Hove Borough Treasurer
Jack Munro, CB, CMG
Edward Newbold, MC
Commander J. de C. Richards RN
Sir Cecil Myers, KCMG, CVO
Lieutenant Colonel Ted Wray

People Associated with The Drive

Comton-Burnett, Ivy – see Number 20

Dixon, Charles – This was the pseudonym of G.A. Campbell who wrote crime novels and in the 1960s lived in Bowen Court. In 1962 he published So Slender the Thread

McMillan, Gordon – He was a 36-year old First Officer with Gatwick-based airline JMC and a former helicopter pilot with the Royal Navy. On 3 August 2002 after a night out with friends, he stepped out onto the third-floor balcony of the flat he rented, tripped, fell over the balcony and died of his injuries. Hamilton Holdings owned the flat. At the inquest in October 2002 the issue was raised of the balcony’s safety. It was stated that had new council regulations been in force at the time McMillan had moved into the flat the previous year, the accident might have been avoided.

Marks, Rose Morria – She died on 29 July 1997 leaving estate valued at £943,910.

Moor, Mrs Gerald – see number 30

Sargeant, Sir Akfred – see number 10

Osborne, Leslie – He enjoyed a long song-writing career that culminated with an association with Simon May. They wrote the theme tunes for East-enders and Howard’s Way. Osborne died at the age of 87 in 1990.

Mary Phillips - (suffragette) see numbers 15/17 Hovedene Hotel

Pollak, Mrs Frances Winnie – see number 18

Treves, Dr – In the 1900s Dr Treves lived in the Drive and he was the brother of one of the Court Physicians.

Walter, John – He died at his home at the age of 95 in August 1968. He was former chief proprietor of The Times, which was founded in 1795 by his great-grandfather, also called John Walter.

Webb, Angela – She was an artist who lived in the road in the 1960s.

Whittington, Dr Richard – He served as a voluntary Medical Officer during the Boer War. He was a member of Hove Council for twelve years. His wife, who died in 1929, was the younger sister of Mrs Baldwin, whose husband Stanley Baldwin, was three times Prime Minister.

Willett, William – see number 58, also under Listed Buildings, Tennis, and The Drive Bowling Club 


Crawford, E The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928
Hove Council Minute Books
Middleton, J Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Mr. Michael Ray
Spurling, Hilary, Ivy When Young 1884-1919 (1993 revised edition)
Spurling,Hilary Secrets of a Woman’s Heart. Ivy Compton-Burnett 1920-1969 (1984)
The Times 28 June 1969

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