Excitement in the 1930s over building of a new estate

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Currently there is talk and interest around the town regarding the new estates that are being developed and surveyed daily by people travelling to and from Chichester on their way to work or to shop.

So this week I thought we could take a look at a previous ‘new estate’ also in North Bersted.

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In this instance we can thank GA Neal and Sons for their 
provision of a wide range of very interesting information when they started to develop 
the area now known as the 
Newtown Estate.

The estate was comprised of Central Avenue, South Way, 
Central Drive, Newton Avenue and Greencourt Drive.

If you are not quite sure of the area, then perhaps the photo showing the Fish Bar at North Bersted, with the sign ‘Royal Parade 1932’, the original estate office, is quite prominent, and will help you pinpoint it as 
the road bears to the right at North Bersted.

The developer very kindly 
produced a booklet, to be 
available for the benefit of all the potential customers, as he quoted, ‘for a new property in a very desirable area’.

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We should first try to envisage the area, not as we know it today, but as an undeveloped open 
area of Bognor Regis, whose population was then 13,500.

The foreword reports that 
‘a township has sprung up consisting of houses of which the most fastidious might well be proud, a town which has its own shopping centre’.

It continues ‘The Newtown Estate is within the boundary of Bognor Regis. That name alone speaks volumes, as it tells of happy days spent lounging in the sunshine or bathing in the clean sparkling surf’.

Again we should compare the buildings of today, whereby 
planners fit a large number of homes into what seems to be a small piece of land.

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However Mr Neal decided that ‘an average of ten homes to the acre’ would be constructed, each house with a gate into the back garden which was to ‘enable tradesmen and others to reach the back door, without having to go through the front gate’.

Advertising within the 1930s had to encompass a different range of facilities to those of today; hence they were in the position to announce that main drainage was completed and that homes were connected to the Bognor Regis main sewers free of cost.

The new homeowners were also advised that they would be able to partake of gas, main water supplies, in addition to electric lights and these services were also to be supplied free 
of charge.

It would appear the layout of the site was being considered very much with the new 
residents in mind. The homes were to contain a range of 
special features including large bay windows which it stated added ‘attractiveness and 
providing more light,’ and thus continued it would be ‘a house into which your furniture seems to fit easily’.

Like today’s advertising brochures, they also filled their homes with ‘modern’ furniture to encourage the purchaser 
with promises of the ability in one of the small bedrooms to ‘accommodate a full size single bed and a dressing table, leaving ample room for moving around in the rooms’.

As a last incentive, the 
brochure explained ‘everything possible was done to make the Estate the best in the district 
and nothing was to be spared to satisfy the needs of each and every purchaser’.

Can you imagine the excitement of housewives in the early 1930s as they purchased a home, which had a new kitchen, filled with modern conveniences such as ‘a sink fitted in the corner leaving room for a draining board’, plus ‘a larder is large in size and well ventilated. The whole of the kitchen is tiled half way up the wall with a black and white capping’. Another incentive was the provision of a sunken bath, very novel in 1936.

Once the euphoria of this home had sunk in then of course there was the question of price and ‘can we really afford a house of our own?’ Again I would remind you we are talking about the 1930s when house purchase 
was definitely not the priority it is today, plus the earnings 
available were not sufficient to allow everyone to purchase.

However, again Mr. Neal 
was helpful and provided the information needed to make a decision on what manner of 
payment could be used.

Price, of course, was important and many were quoted as 
reasonable, ranging from £540 to the quite expensive £675 house.

Can you believe some deposits were £25 and repayments were to be 15s 6d per week (about 75p)? However if you were in a position to have a cash sale, then at the signing of the formal contract a ten per cent deposit was required and the balance was to be paid on completion of the property.

For the benefit of those who had not been in a position to 
purchase a house before, the booklet provided more interesting and very useful information, including the note that rates worked out at about 4s 0d per week. In addition to this, they also had to incur the cost of gas at 4s 6d per 1,000 feet, and electricity at just over 1d per unit.

Additional local town information was also available which advised that both the Southdown Motor Services Co Ltd and the Aldershot and District Traction Co Ltd passed the estate regularly at 15-minute intervals. The railway service was also stated to be the most convenient and tickets cost 8s 5d single to London, with a return at 16s10d.

As I mentioned before, the developer took into account all facets of life of the new owners, including the social side with the provision of the Newtown Social Club. The original club was to comprise an area for tea and coffee and they also had a ‘registered bar’. There was a billiards room, with three full-sized tables, a large ballroom with a fine Canadian maple floor and a room ‘specially set apart for the ladies’. This area was closed and eventually became furniture store for Lewis & Company. This building has long since been demolished and replaced in 1987 by Olivia Court.

Another asset planned was the inclusion of two hard tennis courts and a putting green. To complete the package, GA Neal produced a postcard, which proclaimed alongside the view of the beach, ‘Bognor Regis for Health’.

Within the card was a small flap to be lifted which displayed 12 small pull-out pictures showing the internal and external appearance of this estate.

Quite a novel way to advertise a housing estate.

Recently I was able to obtain more information on a house on the estate. The house was situated in a ‘new road to be known as Bedford Avenue’, which included a statement from September 1932 which showed the house had cost £470 and in addition two gas points had cost 15s (75p) each, the outside WC £5, garage £13, greenhouse £12, the veranda £12.

Two other facts have also come to light; when I asked why Central Avenue is so wide, it appears it was originally planned that this should be the main road to Chichester, however this did not occur. I was also told that when the houses were available for rent they cost 15s per week.

However, locally the rate was 12s 6d and as a result many of these houses were empty when the second world war arrived. The government therefore took over many of the houses to be used by some of the troops.

We should now be collecting our items of local history 
memorabilia for the future, articles, information, sales particulars and of course taking pictures so that in the future someone can write about the ‘new estate’ at North Bersted developed from 2008.