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The History of Peacehaven


Mr Charles W Neville was born in Darlington, 1881. His grandfather's distinguished claim to fame was hanging out with Napoleon Bonaparte on a journey to the Isle of Elba... cool eh? His father was an exhibition promoter. He changed his name from Ussher because the family "disapproved" of his marriage. Oops!

Due to sad circumstances early in his life, Neville moved to Canada, later on attending University in Toronto. He soon tired of this sprawling city, which he called "bigoted and churchified", and buggered off to the more cosmopolitan colony of Australia.

Having duly fallen in love, he bought a schooner named The Snark (not Shark as previously stated, thanks to Mr Neville's grandson for pointing this out!) and sailed to New Guinea. Here he bought the rights to minerals and copper from a tribal chief. Returning to Canada a happier and wealthier man, he bought some land which, dividing into plots, he sold to British and European settlers - a trick he was later to reverse!

At the end of 1912 he returned to England, married his sweetheart Dorothy Rochard, had sprogs and popped his clogs in Rottingdean in 1960, just as music and culture were starting to get interesting.

The Growth of Peacehaven

Aerial view of Peacehaven

This is how Peacehaven looked
in the early 1920s

Originally christened Anzac-on-Sea, Peacehaven began its life in 1914. The roads were just flinty tracks - no change there then. Starting at Telscombe Cliffs, plots were sold cheaply (avg. size 25ft X 100ft). Peacehaven was a very isolated place to consider as home but it was born and it was determined to grow.

After the tragedy at Gallipoli, the name Anzac-on-Sea was felt to be unusable. Peacehaven was born - an appropriate name for a post-war town. In 1920 the estate evolved.... Pylons sprang up all over Peacehaven. It was a telegraph road. Cue Dire Straits. Also, a bus with solid rubber tyres carried people around the town. It kept breaking down. Could this be the first Number 14A?

Most of the electric cable and road materials were transported from Seaford. Peacehaven had roads and electricity! Then the cats moved in and took over!!

The Peacehaven Hotel

The Peacehaven Hotel, onetime cultural center of Peacehaven

Nice pair of jugs Thanks to Peacehaven ex-pat Mike Player, we now have a memorial to the Peacehaven hotel:- These two milk jugs, given as a memento to his father when he emigrated. The jugs, Mike, and indeed his father, are all nicely polished and residing in Sydney, Australia.

During the war, there simply wasn't the will, money or time to put a great deal of thought into the architecture... For the first houses in Peacehaven, materials were in short supply, but after the war ended the building of Peacehaven resumed at a great pace.

In 1924 the town formed its own electricity board. The first few hundred residents were catching up with the '20s technology of Brighton and Eastbourne. On 10th October 1924 the beautiful Peacehaven hotel was finally constructed. The ornamental stonework fireplaces, doorways and statues were Italian works of art and on the very grand opening of the hotel, there was quite a party organised by Neville's wife, Dorothy. Lords, Ladies and minor royalty attended. Maybe the grandeur and splendour encourages and inspired Mr Neville to continue the building of Peacehaven in the same regal spirit: a "garden city by the sea".

What a great shame it never happened. The pioneers passed on and only a small residential sprawl of a town remains. Neville's dream remains a dream.

Researched and written by Melissa Wyatt.

MJPlay's in there somewhere!
Telscombe Cliffs Primary School, 1961
Cycling Proficiency Extravaganza!

Can you tell what it is yet?This priceless hysterical - sorry, historical - nugget, was provided to us by the intrepid Aussie Mike Player. He's second from left on the front row, a proud winner about to set sail for the Colonies to make his fortune.

Early advertisement For details of the Peacehaven-Telscombe Historical Society check Peacehaven Library (in the Meridian Centre) or check out the Forum. (Please show decorum in the forum.)

To read a personal account of one family's move to Peacehaven shortly after World War II, click here.