A modern walk to the Pleasure Gardens

Having read about the crowds of happy people arriving at Burgess Hill station on Victorian and Edwardian Sunday afternoon excursions, I was determined to try to follow in their footsteps and see where it led me.

The route to Burgess Hill’s Victoria Pleasure Gardens was simple, from the station, take Station Road to its end, cross London Road and then take the footpath which led to the original entrance.

On Sunday 4th October 2009, over 100 years after the gardens opened, I made my way down the footpath to see where I would end up. This map gives a rough indication of where the photographs below were taken.

I chose a Sunday because the factory estate is quiet then, apart from learner drivers. Braving banks of security cameras, I walked in as straight a line as possible. Following my 1925 plan, I trekked directly through new factory car parks, across pavements and new roads, past a tiny stream that once fed the magnificent lake, until we reached a sad line of survivors, a row of trees now imprisoned by tarmac as shown in photographs 7 to 9. I believe that the area where I stopped was near to the main entrance to the rides, and just before the lake (now filled in).

Walking down that little footpath I could just about get a sense of those happy children running to be first on the switchback, or perhaps the swing boats. The factory estate is really quite a depressing place when you know what was there just a few generations before.