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1937: Haywards Heath's pioneers. ARP Talk part 4

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

 Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 26 October 1937

Mr A. R. Pannett, affectionately known to locals as 'ARP' gave many delightful insights into earliest Haywards Heath days; in 1937 at the age of 80 he offered a final absorbing talk to a packed and appreciative audience. We serialise this fascinating record because of the density and detail it provides..... here is Part 4


was a Mr Holloway. I do not know exactly when he came to the Heath, but I believe that it was about 1850. He was an architect by profession, but carried out several building speculations on his own. He built his own house Hengistberry, and Holly House in the Paddockhall Road, also the Star Inn and Clifton Terrace adjoining. 

Holly House was for some years a public house known as the ‘Queen's Head’. My father came to the Heath in 1851, and was the first builder to start a business in the place. The first house that he built was Longcroft on the Muster Green. The two houses between that and Mr Flesher's house followed, and Beechhurst, Elfinsward, St Clair, North and South Highlands,  Arnolds and Hawkridge, in what was to be Church Road, the two shops in Stanford Place, now kept by Mr Pratt and Mr Cobb’s stores, all date from that decade. 

Elfinsward c1900 (colourised)

About that time it had been discovered that although there was in a geological sense no clay deposit at the Heath, there existed all over the Heath


which contained sufficient clay for commercial exploitation, and for some years the brick making industry flourished.  Yards existed in the Church Road, Ashenground Road and Petlands Road parts, and there was one where the shops on the eastern side of the Broadway now are. Development now had two new forces to favour it. One was the influx of labour required for the brick making industry and for the erection of the Sussex County Asylum, which was opened in 1857. This necessitated the erection of working class dwellings, which went on slowly but continuously.  Among the dwellings first built were those on the north side of Triangle Road.

The first educational move had been made by the erection of a school at the bottom of Church Road. This was inaugurated by the Reverend Robert Edward Wyatt, who came to the Heath in that decade. He was destined to play an important part in both the religious and social progress of the district, and began the ecclesiastical history of the Heath by holding services in Mr Holloway's workshop. Time does not commit me to say much more about him, but his name must be recorded as


During the next decade, the other factor to which I have alluded began to make itself felt. This was that the larger Brighton businessmen became attracted to Haywards Heath, and proceeded to acquire property in it. Others found it a desirable place to live in and were ready to rent houses if these were provided for them. Many of these men were of considerable means and kept up fairly large establishments which formed and provided a powerful stimulus to building and trade generally.

Some of them were: Mr Hart, who was one of the first to purchase a part of the enclosed land in Hazelgrove Road, but did not build on it; the Thorowgoods at the Laurels and Cleveland, Legge at Summerfield, Doctor Oldham at Lucas’s,  Treacher at Oaklands, (afterwards acquired by Sir James Bradford), Willard at Albion House, Edwards at Calbourne, one of the first, Soper at Arnolds, Reeves at the Winnals, Sawyers at Hillview and Fairlawn, Reason at Ormerod House, (afterwards purchased by Hudson of household removal fame), and many lesser lights. Most of these have departed, but the names of some of the leading businesses in Brighton still bear their names. Several of these


and it is largely due to them that the Heath now felt itself sufficiently advanced to start a gas works.

The old gas works beside the railway embankment on Mill Green Road dated back to 1866

Digressing for a moment, it should be noted that although Cuckfield and Lindfield embarked in similar undertakings, they have in the process of time become absorbed in the one at Haywards Heath, and under the able controlling influence which it has always had, this has become one of the most important provincial undertakings in the South of England. In this decade too, Church Road was made, the church was built, and Mr Wyatt, the first vicar, built himself a house near it. Sharrow, also in Church Road was built by Mr Merrifield, a Brighton barrister, who held a high position in the county. 

Oakfield House and Terrace were built by Mr Pierce, a well known timber merchant, who also built in the southern part of the district, and the first two shops in the South road were erected, one a boot makers and the other for an ironmonger. The latter is now a stationers and the former of florists. The old house at Muster Green had now become a grocery shop, and was soon to become Haywards Heath’s first post office.


had been demolished, and a new one on the site of the Sussex Hotel had been erected, being called The Volunteer.  The site of the old inn and the adjoining land had been bought by a London merchant, Mr Watton, who proceeded to build a large house thereon. For this purpose a man came to the Heath as a builder who was to become a vigorous and important element in the development of the town.

Not only did he build for other people, but he purchased a good deal of land and developed on his own account. During his career which lasted well into the present century, he built in this way important houses in Hazel Grove road, Church Road, Muster Green and elsewhere and also Mill Green Road and College Road cottage properties. He was an important member of the local governing bodies, and Jesse Finch must certainly be recorded as one of our most distinguished pioneers.

to be continued......

This was Hengistbury, it stood approximately where the telephone exchange car park is in Paddockhall Road. Holly House still stands on the right going up Paddockhall Rd, backing on to Winnals Park. It is now converted to flats.


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