Nevill Memoirs > David Sale
Printable version of David Sale’s Nevill History: pdf [200KB]
I was born in the Engineer’s house in Lewes Prison but my parents actually lived in 40 Middle Way. I didn’t find out until it was too late to ask, but we think the reason was that my Fathers Mother was living with my parents in 40 Middle Way at the time I was born. She was old and not a pleasant woman and wouldn’t have tolerated a new born baby, so my Mum went to her friends Mr and Mrs Spur at the Engineers house to stay until after I was born.
Our house in Middle Way had three bedrooms, a downstairs bathroom just inside the backdoor next to the kitchen with a small square hall into the living room. One of my lasting memories is being washed or bathed in the kitchen sink which did not take a lot of hot water, as it was heated up using a Copper. Water was poured in the top of the Copper and heated by a gas ring underneath. I do not remember my younger sister being born who came along eight years later but I do have a recollection of my brother being born as he was born at home. The midwife brought the baby to me as I was in bed at the time so this was quite an experience for a young boy. My eldest sister was due to marry so the bed arrangements had to change. My younger sister would move into the smaller room and the two boys would go into the larger one whereas it was the other way around before.
40 Middle Way is in a cul-de-sac and as cars were a rarity we could play in the street all day. We had a large garden with a large Air Raid shelter which was big enough to hold about thirty people. We used to play in it. Wallands School had not been built as this time so I attended St Ann’s School in De Montfort Road for about two years, then became one of the new pupils at Wallands School in 1952. My school days at Wallands were quite uneventful. Mrs Inkster was the first Headmistress and was Scottish. Miss Gregory, who taught at St. Ann’s when I was there, also moved up to the Wallands at the same time. She was an infant teacher. When I was in the juniors we used to have spelling tests once a week and I used to swop papers with Gary Brown. He and I used to make our work right even if it was wrong and to this day I have never learnt to spell properly, (thank goodness for the invention of spell check). I then moved down to Mountfield Road Secondary Modern School which was an all-boys school. After about a year the education system changed to co-ed and we became mixed with the girls.
Nevill Estate stayed much the same during my childhood but I do remember Sheepfair being built. It used to be part of the Downs in some way. Nevill sports used to hold part of their events, such as the field events there until it was all moved to the green at the bottom of Middle Way which was known in those days as the Rec. (short for recreation ground). As kids in the fifties we all used to play in each other’s gardens and in the street and if no girls were around the boys played football, rounders or cowboys and Indians if the girls were there. We never seemed to be bored but then we had a freedom that children don’t have these days.
At harvest time we were up on the downs at the top of Firle Crescent playing on the straw bales. The field now known as Landport Bottom was always ploughed and sown with wheat or barley. I cannot remember when that practice stopped. Another regular occurrence was a double decker bus (No 28) which would come up Middle Way, along Cross Way and Windover Crescent then turn up Mount Harry, reverse into the lay by next to the green for a short while, then return the same way. The 123 bus used to come up to the Nevill Crescent and sit there for a short while before travelling to Newhaven. This was also a Double Decker.
Growing up on the Nevill was a very safe place to live, much the same as now, but with hardly any traffic. As a young man I had a few friends who lived close by. We played cards quite regularly in the homes of Mick Gearing who lived in Firle Crescent and Barry Hilman who lived in North Way. I think we used those two houses because their respective parents used to play as well. As time went on, every so often Barry’s sister, a very nice young lady used to play as well. I thought she was very attractive and someone I would like to get to know better. Unfortunately she was committed to someone else. One evening we were playing when she came home early and did not come into the room, so after a while her mother went to find out what was up, and came back to say she was upset as she had broken up with her boyfriend. Now, I was never one to let an opportunity pass me by and later in the week invited her out to walk my dog on the downs. She accepted and the rest is history. We married in 1968 and have lived on the Nevill most of our lives except for about three years when we first got married and lived in a flat in the centre of town.
Our first baby was born in December 1969 and was very premature, weighing in at only one pound 14ozs at Brighton General Hospital, at the top of Elm Grove, Brighton. He was the smallest baby ever to be born at that time in that hospital and during a particularly heavy snowstorm. He was in an incubator for two months and we took him home on 14th February weighing just four pounds, 12 ounces. He wasn’t due to be born until end of February so I think he made his own little bit of history. Three years later we had a daughter and at this time were still living in a one bed flat in the middle of the town, above what was then Moores the Greengrocers, which is now the Bow Windows Book shop. This was obviously not suitable for two adults and two babies, so we asked the council for a house which, in 1973 was relatively easy. We asked for one on the Nevill as both our parents still lived there, so in April 1973, we moved into 54 North Way thinking how lucky we were.
My parents still lived in Middle Way and Val’s parents lived just down the road from us in North Way. Around five years later, we heard that Mr and Mrs Wood, who lived opposite us at number 59, were moving and as that house was larger with a bathroom upstairs (ours was downstairs next to the kitchen), we asked the council if we could move over with a view to buying it. This was when the Conservative Government had given people the right to buy their council houses. It was agreed and we moved but, before we could start the process of buying it, I had a major road traffic accident in my Post Office van and was seriously injured with major trauma and head injury and was off work for a year. I returned to work on light duties for six months after which we started the process of buying the house. After a few years we then started home improvements, making the bathroom bigger, knocking out the coal hole and larder and extending the lounge. The biggest improvement we made was to remove a large area of chalky bank at the back of the house which consisted of 19 large skips, all done by hand and arranged by my father in law. A lot of the chalk was removed by a young lad who lived down the road. His name was Jason Migal. One of the best decisions we made, with the large amount of traffic now parked around the Nevill, was putting in a driveway which was our large major alteration.
Our family extended to three Grand Daughters and we now also have a Great Grandson. I can remember some of the people who lived in my road including Mr and Mrs Wood with Sheila and Graham who [previously] lived in my house and Mr and Mrs Roberts with several daughters: Teresa, Jennifer, Christine and son Kevin. Mr and Mrs Lawrence had several children: Ray and Stan plus some daughters. We knew Mr and Mrs Austin with boys Raymond, Paul and Colin, Mr and Mrs Merchant with children David and Valerie who both still live on the Nevill, and Mr and Mrs Underhill with boys John and Alan. Alan still lives in the house with his family after extending it. He married Trish Kellery who lived with her Mum and Dad in number 48. I also remember Mr and Mrs Back. I think there were two sons; Norman was one. Mr and Mrs Munn had three children: Pat, Roger and Barbara. Then there was Mr and Mrs Shuka (not sure of the spelling), I think they were Polish. I remember a son, Ormand. Mr and Mrs Jones’ daughter, Jean, lived in 58 North Way for number of years. Mrs Gibbs lived in 61. She told my wife she and her husband were one of the first to buy their house. It was £800. Mr and Mrs Gale, Ian and Ann lived in 52 North Way. When they parted Ian moved back into our old house, number 54, with June, after we moved over to 59.
So I have lived on the Nevill Estate for almost all of my life. I have enjoyed sharing Nevill news with the rest of Lewes. I have been a Sussex Express Parish Pump contributor for five years. I have been Chairman of the Riverside Club for about six years and I have been collating and delivering the Lewes News for ever!