Wish Park (also called Aldrington Recreation Ground and Marine Park) has lots of special memories for me. We lived in a house that backed onto this lovely park when my children were small, this was the view from my daughter’s bedroom (this photo was taken in 1910 ten years after the park was built!)
This image was taken from the book ‘Hove in old Picture Postcards’ by Judy Middleton. The history of this park goes back to 1895, when the twelve acres cost the council £5,368. The open land to the north is now built over, but in this photo you can see Aldrington (the name given to this area) is situated on the flat Sussex coastal plain, gradually tapering to the sea. If you could turn 180 degrees you would be facing the sea, just a moments walk away. The two houses in the picture are still there, on the corner of Portland Avenue and New Church Road.
In Eddie Scott’s book ‘Hove A Pictorial History’ he features the same picture, mentioning you can see a band playing, and pointing out this is the time when motor shows are beginning to replace traditional gymkhana’s (horsemanship displays). Here is a map, the green arrow is pointing at the corner of Wish Road and Marine Avenue, where we lived.
Looking at local Directories, it is possible to trace the history of Marine Avenue, where we lived at No. 5. The first mention of it is in Pikes Directory, 1910, the year the park opened, where there was a grocer on the corner at No. 1 and Adderley Howard lived at No. 5. This continued until 1914 when No. 1 was a grocers and a Post Office.
In Kellys Directory for 1938 No 1 has been split into two properties, at 1A Cyril Luff was a tobacconist and at No. 1 James Smith was a grocers and Post Office, Nos 3 and 5 were individual residences. Ten years later in 1947 No. 1A was now a tobacconist, confectioner and stationers, with No. 1 a grocers and Post Office. No. 3 was now a wine and spirit merchants and No. 5 was a nursing home (Marine Rest Home) run by Miss Chandler.
My first recollections of this park were in the early 1960s when I attended a nursery school to the north of the park, in Portland Road. It was a small school, just a house really, here is a photo of it now:
We used to walk to Wish Park for our gym lessons. I can just about remember this, and there are also details in the book ‘The Old Hove Schools’ by Judy Middleton.
When we moved to Marine Avenue in the late 1980s, my daughter attended Aldrington Church of England School, also in Portland Road. They held their Sports Days at Wish Park, which was very handy for me! No worry about parking, I just walked around the corner.
I haven’t been back to this park for several years, it’s really somewhere you go with children, there’s a lovely play park with swings etc, so I was delighted to look online and see it now has a cafe! Of course this wasn’t something that worried me when we lived there, but I can certainly see it as a welcome addition for park-goers. Here is a link to a fantastic article about this cafe: