In 1960 the Old Patcham Preservation Society was set up to save some cottages on Church Hill, Patcham, including the terrace of early nineteenth century houses from numbers 13 to 21, from demolition.

In 1960 the Old Patcham Preservation Society was set up to save some cottages on Church Hill, Patcham, including the terrace of early nineteenth century houses from numbers 13 to 21, from demolition.

Under the chairmanship of Mr W Alan Duke the cottages were bought by the Society, much of the funds provided by Mr Duke himself. The cottages were renovated and then sold for a small profit.

Brighton and Hove By-pass
This Society, which at times had 150 members, faced its biggest battle of the second half of the twentieth century over the construction of the Brighton and Hove By-pass. In 1973 six routes for a new east-west road to by-pass the Greater Brighton area including downland and urban options, were identified for public consultation.

Preston Society
In the same year, 1973, a proposal to demolish Lourdes Convent in Preston Road led to a group of local residents forming the Preston Society.

They were also actively involved with the proposal to demolish Brighton Station, as Anthony Dale, secretary of the Regency Society, had refused to object to its demolition saying that it was only Victorian.

The Preston Society decided to link with the Old Patcham Preservation Society to fight the By-pass scheme and The Preston and Old Patcham Society was created by John Morley, then Director of the Royal Pavilion, and Selma Montford. In 1974 they also founded the Brighton Society to deal with schemes which affected Brighton and Hove as a whole.

Preston and Old Patcham Society
In the mid 1970s, The Preston and Old Patcham Society was concerned over a development of flats and houses as what is now called Varndean Park, built in the grounds of three villas on the London Road.

The development came to be known as the ‘Golden Acres estate’ and the Society managed to successfully preserve a number of mature trees on the site.

The Council used the profit they made from the sale of the Golden Acres to fund the Brighton Centre. At this point the membership of the Society was around 400.

In Patcham, in 1980, there was a fight to prevent the Black Lion Hotel being transformed into a twenty-nine bedroom motel whilst, during the 1980s, the battles continued over the Brighton By-pass.

Public enquiries took place in 1983 and 1987 allowing local pressure groups to put forward their points of view. Planning permission was finally given and the By-pass was fully opened in 1996.

The Society has continued its work this century dealing with some very large proposals but also looking at details such as velux windows, flint walls, banners etc.

Restoration of the Preston Manor
The restoration of the Preston Manor walled garden was completed in 2002 whilst the planting and refurbishment of the Rose Garden in Preston Park has been constantly monitored.

Endeavour Garage, Preston Road
In October 2002 the Endeavour Garage, Preston Road, near the southern end of Preston Park, was demolished allowing an investigation of an area to the east of the known Roman villa which had been originally excavated in 1877 and 1962.

A 16-storey block was proposed for the site which resulted in the Society organising a public meeting jointly with the Brighton Society.

As a result of the enormous opposition, from both the public and all political parties, the developer, Karis, withdrew the application. Undistinguished social housing flats have now been built on the site.

Patcham Place
Patcham Place, listed as Grade II*, has often figured in our discussions.

The house and grounds were bought by Brighton Corporation in 1926 and leased to the Youth Hostel Association until 2007. The Society was concerned about the building’s possible deterioration if it was left empty.

At one time it was considered as a home for the new South Downs National Park Authority. In January 2012, the City Council announced they would be selling the lease to a company which would turn the building into a business centre. A £2 million, phased restoration programme of Patcham Place and the Stables is currently being undertaken by the new owners.

Patcham Court Farm
Over the years the Society has been very concerned with the plight of Patcham Court Farm. The agricultural holding was physically divided with the construction of the A27 By-pass and the City Council still want to dispose of a long leasehold interest in the farm.

In 2005 there were proposals for a Park & Ride at the farm and at nearby Braypool. These were defeated. A possibility for a hotel complex by the De Vere hotel group was raised in 2011 but the company pulled out and the council of the time said they did not think a hotel was a good strategic use of the land. So the site still remains empty and derelict.

Over the last decade
Over the last decade or so the Society has been exercised by the changes to the twenty-one transit pitches for Travellers at Horsdean and the proposals, in 2013, for the construction of twelve new permanent pitches. The original estimated cost for the work has risen mostly due to additional drainage work. The Horsdean site is directly over a man-made adit – or tunnel – that collects water drawn by the Patcham pumping station. As a result, the Environment Agency requires expensive drainage systems and pollution control measures to be installed – as well as flood defences – to protect the city’s drinking water supply. We have been particularly aware of the problems with the water supply in the Waterhall/Patcham area ever since the floods of 2000-1.
There are some planning applications which have taken a long time to come to fruition.

The current plans to build a block of flats in the Old London Road for the over seventies mirror similar applications in 2004 and 2005 by McCarthy and Stone which were eventually refused.

The building of the Maycroft Manor Care Home at the bottom of Carden Avenue was monitored over a number of years.

St Augustine’s Church (Grade II) was initially put up for sale in 2004 after it was declared redundant. For a time it was leased by the Elim Pentecostal Church who made a few internal changes.

Since 2004 work has been carried out on the church to convert it into the St Augustine’s Centre, a multi-purpose community development, whilst the church hall has been converted into apartments.

The Anston House site in Preston Road has been under constant vigilance since it fell into disuse in 1987.

In 2007 our particular concern was with the proposed extension to Varndean School, which was eventually dropped. The Caffyns site at the corner of Cumberland Road was finally resolved with its conversion to a Sainsbury’s Local Store.

On-going developments in certain roads often need to be kept under observation.

There have been a number of applications for houses to be built on the ‘backlands’ of Preston Park Avenue. Parking on the verges of Varndean Road and other nearby roads brought about a distinct change to the local environment and verge-parking was fought with some success.

Developments affecting The Square and The Elms in Patcham, Snakey Lane, Blackberry Lane and the Preston Pump House have all required constant review.

We have a number of links with other amenity groups especially the Brighton Society which often shares our concerns.

We have close links with St Peter’s Church, Preston and Preston Manor.

We always have a representative at the meetings of the Conservation Advisory Group. This group has seen some changes over the years and, since 2013, no longer includes a Council officer from the Planning Department. In 2013, we were invited to join a group of civic societies contributing to an umbrella association, The Civic Brighton and Hove Platform. We maintain links with the Friends of Withdean Park and the Friends of Preston Park.

The Society has invited a number of distinguished local historians to speak at our AGMs and we have also welcomed speakers from the City Council.

We contributed to the Local List of Heritage Assets and have commented on the current City Plan. In 2010 The Society was involved in a re-drawing of the boundaries of the Patcham Conservation Area and we were naturally concerned about the boundaries for the South Downs National Park, which became fully operational in 2011. Since they were instigated in 2008 we occasionally attend meetings of the Local Action Teams working within our area.

Muriel Elms Collection
In 2007 the Society set up its own a website. The same year, we sponsored digitisation of volume 18, the Preston Area, of the James Gray Collection of photos held by the Regency Society. In 2009 further monies were made available from the Preston Village Millennium Project to sponsor volume 34, the Withdean area. The Society owes a debt of thanks to Muriel Elms (1913 – 2014) who gave us the opportunity in 2008 to digitise her collection of more than 100 images of Patcham. In April 2015 the mayor, Councillor Brian Fitch and Mrs Norah Fitch invited the Society to a reception at the Town Hall to celebrate the contribution of the Society to the life of the city.

Society renamed
Members of the Preston and Old Patcham Society decided to rename the society in 2011. It is now called Preston and Patcham Society and has adopted a slightly broader remit than just dealing with the Preston Park, Preston Village and Patcham Conservation Areas whose boundaries originated in 1970.

Currently we have about 100 names on our membership list of whom about two-thirds are paid-up members. The Society now tries to look at an area roughly bounded to the east by Ditchling Road, and to the south by the coastal railway. The mainline railway marks the western boundary and the Society also looks at potential changes along the A23 through Varndean and Withdean as far as Patcham village.

IMAGE CREDIT: Selma Montford: Coal Hole, Clermont Road, Brighton