by Robert Nemeth
Having just been elected onto Brighton & Hove City Council as Councillor for Wish Ward in Hove, it seems only appropriate that I focus on Stoneham Park in my patch.
What began as Portland Road Recreation Ground in 1913 was later called Stoneham Recreation Ground. It is now called Stoneham Park, officially, having been reopened in 2001 by the then Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Cllr Harry Steer.
The land that became the park initially served Hove as a gravel pit. It was gifted to the town by the Duke of Portland in 1906. For a while, it housed a captured German gun. Pigeon-feeders were the menace during the 1990s, and vandals during the 2000s. It is now both delightful and thriving.
To the west of Stoneham Park is Mainstone Road which takes its name from Frank Mainstone, the Duke of Portland’s bailiff. Mainstone kept pigs on the land that became the park. To the north, Stoneham Road has a long-standing association with the baking of bread which continues to this day. A sign on the rear of two houses backing onto the park mentions Clark’s Bread (“THE MOST NUTRITIOUS”) which operated during the first third of the twentieth century.
The background of parks locally is interesting. Wish Park opened in 1900, Victoria Park in 1902 and Hove Park in 1906. It was a golden era for public areas, against a backdrop of the green spaces of Hove and Brighton’s squares and crescents originally being private and exclusive.
My favourite bit of Stoneham Park is a granite memorial plaque in a grotto-like flint surround on the south-east corner which Judy Middleton describes as ‘a haven for local snails’ in her Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade.
Judy counted fourteen snails on her visit in 1994. I was disappointed to see only one.