Hill has developed from the northern parts of Clayton
Keymer parishes with later additions from Ditchling, Hurstpierpoint
and Wivelsfield. It grew from an area of common grazing
known as St.John's Common, the name being taken from a sheep
and lamb fair held on St.John the Baptist day and dates
to 1342. It was held in the north-west corner of the Common
known as Fairplace.
There were 32 farmhouses around the Common before 1950, but
only 8 now remain. Schools were later established for the
growing population. Hotels were opened, catering for visitors
who found it beneficial to take advantage of the town's amenities
and tranquility. Part of the Martlets shopping precinct was
once a tree lined road, with large houses built in times of
pleasure gardens opened in 1897 by local farmer and butcher
Mr. Edwin Street,
to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The “Victoria
Pleasure Gardens” contained a large lake covering 3
acres, used for boating and skating in the winter. (Mr. Street
who weighed 23 stone would always test the ice first.) It
is now the site of Victoria Industrial Estate.
the sixteenth century a number of brickworks and potteries
flourished, sending products far afield after the railways
came in the 1840s. For 100 years from 1830 to 1930, three-quarters
of Burgess Hill was predominantly brick, tile and pottery
making works. Recently in
since 1875, was the “Keymer
Tile Works” which closed in December 2014 and
is now being redeveloped to accommodate 475 houses in stages
town developed from the outside towards the centre, where
the “Market Place” Shopping Centre was the last
to be completed in 1991 on derelict land known as “The
Brow” (formerly Norman’s Brick, tile and Pottery
making works that ceased operating in 1930.)
1956 a large industrial estate was completed, on land formerly
part of the “Victoria Pleasure Gardens” The Victoria
Industrial Estate is sited where the Victoria Pleasure Gardens
once attracted thousands of visitors to a boating lake, swings,
roundabout and refreshment rooms.
the 1950s Burgess Hill was said to have been the fastest growing
town in south-east England, the population being 8,500 in
1950, but now over 40,000.
1954 when the western side of Burgess Hill was considered
suitable for industrial development, building work began and
extended southwards on land formerly occupied by the “Victoria
Pleasure Gardens”, from 1897 to 1940.
first factory established about 1950 was “Corbetts Engineering
works” housed in an old wooden building (which was formerly
part of the pleasure gardens) and the access road was extended
from Victoria Road (now Victoria Close) westwards terminating
in a cul-de-sac. The 30 acre site to the south of the extended
Victoria Road eventually accommodated about 30 factories,
all completed before 1960. At about that time the estate road
was again extended via Victoria Avenue into Royal George Road.
the next 20 years gradual development was extended to Victoria
Way, Victoria Gardens, Consort Way and Albert Drive (including
a 3-acre site which was formerly a boating lake filled in
during 1977) and more industrial units were erected. Since
1956 when the first new factory “Tylors of London”
was opened at the end of Victoria Road, several more industrial
units were planned, which now provide employment for more
than 3000 people.
to the industrial estate from the A23 is now via a link road
(A2300) opened in 1997 which joins Jane Murray Way (the western
distributor road) leading to the main industrial estate, with
direct access via Charles Avenue.
smaller industrial estate developed in 1986 on the northern
outskirts of the town is accessed from Marchant’s Way
off the London Road. This comprises several industrial units
known as the “Sheddingdean Small Industries Centre”
(named after one of the local farms) which provides smaller
lock-up units for those starting up in business.
have been five royal visits to Burgess Hill...
Anne in 1973 to open “Van Den Burghs”
late Princess Diana in Nov 1985 who opened the “Disabled
(now “The Disabilities Trust”)
Anne opened "Charles of the Ritz" on 4th December
Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in March 1999, who opened
the “Triangle Leisure Centre” and visited
Burgess Hill Town Council's “Help Point”
Royal (Princess Anne) visited Bio Productions on 12th
and T.V. stars that have visited Burgess Hill during the years
1956 – 1973 officiating at the “Goose Fair”
an annual event that raised funds for “rest homes for
the elderly” and other good causes...
Jimmy Edwards (1956)
Kavanagh of “Itma” Fame (1956)
Hartnell-Sgt.Bullimore in the “Army Game” (1958)
and recently appeared in Dr. Who
Christie (1962) (who lived in Cuckfield)
+ Doris Walters (Gert and Daisy) (1963)
Cleall “Duffy” in “Please Sir”
who once lived here and were associated with Burgess Hill...
late Doris Hare who aged 95 she played Reg.Varney’s
mum in “On the Buses”, in the 1970s. She was
in show business for 84 years. Although not related, appeared
with the late Robertson Hare who starred in “All
Gas and Gaitors”. Doris Hare lived in "Noel
Cottage" from about 1930 to 1940. An occasional visitor
to her cottage was Noel Coward, hence the later naming
of" Noel Rise".
late Valentine Dyall who died in 1985 aged 77. Best known
for the radio series “The Man in Black” and
for playing stage roles such as “Abanaza”
in “Aladdin” and parts for a deep haunting
voice that frightened the audiences.
film star, the late Norman Wisdom at the age of 84, celebrated
his Knighthood with his family at the "India Garden"
restaurant in early December 1999. Sadly, he died on 4th
Oct. 2010 aged 95.
late Dame Vera Lynn (died 18th June 2020) occasionally
visited Burgess Hill with her daughter Virginia to shop
or visit Art Exhibitions.
about 2010 for a few years, the famous "Beverley
Sisters" (1950s and 1960s singers and recording artistes)
were frequently to be seen in the town centre. The twins,
"Teddie and Babs" (born in 1927) had a grand-daughter
who went to Burgess Hill School For Girls. The third sister
Joy, the eldest, (who married famous footballer Billy
Wright) lived in London where there were other grand-daughters.
Sadly Joy died in 2015 and Babs died in 2018 both aged
and Judy Geeson (of film and TV fame) lived in Burgess
Hill with their mother and father Vincent in Leylands
Road. Vincent played cricket at St. Andrew's c.c. with
Charles Clarke, who in the 1930s played for Sussex and
Derbyshire. During the mid 1950s, Charles was also chairman
of B/H UDC.