Reflections of Findon Valley’s Development

A brief look back in time at Findon Valley's recent history

By Austin Prime, ex-Vice Chairman of the FVRA

It was during 1942 that I first saw Findon Valley. I was a member of a heavy 40-ton Churchill Tank Regiment newly arrived in Worthing. Our training ground was at the back of Findon in the Chanctonbury Ring area. I was demobbed in January 1946 and having married the previous September, we bought a house in Sullington Gardens, Findon Valley, and re-named it ‘Journey’s End’ having no intention of moving.

It was not long before a Mr Kenton, a speculative builder and a Street Warden of the FVRA, enrolled me as a member. I very soon became a Street Warden myself. Upon the resignation of Mr Spink, the Chairman, and Mrs Pennycud, Vice Chairman, Councillor Rice became Chairman and I was elected Vice Chairman and held that office for three years. We were then aiming for 1,000 members.

At this time not one road was made-up on the west side of the Valley and not more than half a dozen on the east side; no school, no churches as we know them today. The middle block of shops were not built. Two banks were open two mornings a week; one baker, mornings only. Where Salvington Court now stands were allotments and a big board in the middle said, ‘Site for Co-op premises.’ At the bottom of Bost Hill on the north-west corner stood a wooden toll house and we could sit in the front of our house and watch the traffic go along the main road as there were no houses in front of us. The only two houses between Central Avenue and the Borough boundary were Five Gables and Kemscott.

Did you know that the first Communion Service of All Saints was held in the dairy building behind what was to become my shop, 173 Findon Road? Did you know the Findon boundary at one time was as far down as the wall behind the library? Where Aldwick Crescent is, was once a market garden. The old Goar cottages at the bottom of Bost Hill was Findon Workhouse and the last three houses on the Findon Road were built in its garden. The field opposite was known as Poor House Field – now the entrance to Maytree Avenue.

In 1939 the members of the Nepcote Chapel (Baptists and others) decided they ought to move to the Valley but to where? A marquee was hired from Mitchells, the caterers, and erected at the rear of Hillview Road. Imagine the horror when a leading member came down on the Saturday evening to check that all was well for the Sunday, to find the marquee missing, leaving the reading desk on a little platform among the blackberry bushes. On ringing Mitchells he was assured it would be back in time for the service in the morning – they had borrowed it for a wedding!

In my days as an officer of the Association we held our meetings in the Cissbury Hotel. We secured a pathway from Cissbury Gardens to Hollingbury Gardens, the Notice Board on King’s Parade and a second doctor in the Valley.