Poetry In Motion

Kev Neylon
9 min readFeb 28, 2021

Friday was a lovely sunny day, the glorious sunset the night before suggested it would be, and it didn’t disappoint. It was another day for wandering, and we parked up in the Grattons Park car park at the top of St Mary’s Drive. There were quite a few dog walkers there, although there was a lot more talking than walking going on.

We headed away from the park and ambled up and down the local streets as I compiled pictures of all the street signs in the little estate of poets.

Yes, I was looking for a Tillotson sign, but it must have moved! (I did have my coat, but I had resorted to carrying it by now as it was a bit warm.) Though if you go back a century all there would have been was fields and trees here.

This is an old stomping ground (quite literally) of mine with it being sat between where I use to live in Wakeham’s Green and my old office on Hazelwick Drive. There were many different ways through to use to reduce the boredom of the walking commute. We walked past the spot on Park Way, close to the junction with St Mary’s Drive where my knee gave up the ghost the first time back in 2010, throwing me to the floor in both agony and embarrassment. Marvell Close was where friends lived and there were frequent visits there.

Once all the signs were snapped, we crossed Worth Park Avenue and went into the Moat. A small woodland and water area, where both English Heritage and The National Trust lay claim to looking after parts of. It is a lovely oasis of calm, and the moat has houses backing onto it from three sides,

with only the footpath to the east of it accessible to the public. For more information about this and other moated manors in Crawley, then go to Ian Mulcahy’s website


Where there are many great informative pages about Crawley’s history, and which have been an inspiration for me to do these walks of discovery.

To north side of the moat is Barnwood, a private road, full of buildings of character. To the south and west are Mount Close and Moat Walk which also have properties that back onto the moat, but which can’t be seen through the trees surrounding the moat and on the island in the middle.

We come out of the little sanctuary onto Dene Tye, part of a number of streets full of large well-appointed houses. The triangle formed by Worth Park Avenue, Crawley Lane and Balcombe Road is filled with such houses, and as mentioned before I would walk around these streets, probably looking quite suspicious, looking at the houses and dreaming of moving here.

From there we made out way up to Worth Park.

When I used to live near it, it was still called Milton Mount Gardens, and hadn’t had all the wonderful restoration done. On entry to the park the magnificent Ridley’s Court catches your eye.

This was a later addition to the Worth Park Mansion as a stable block, and now they are the grandest building around, a Grade II listed one at that.

The mansion was demolished in 1968 with the seven-storey block of flats that stand on the site of the mansion replacing it. It always seemed a strange place to build such a large (and relatively) high rise block of flats, and they do seem somewhat incongruous, especially now that the lottery heritage funded restoration work has taken place. Yet I don’t dislike them, and I wouldn’t mind having the view those on the west side of the building have. (If not their current problems with gas leaks, Scottish Gas Networks vans were still parked outside and working there.)

We stop for a coffee at the little café in a horsebox that sits between Ridley’s Court and the covered Camellia Walk, taking a drink only, and managing to resist the allure of the wonderful looking chocolate cake and interesting sandwiches on display. With it being a sunny day there were a lot of others out, and the little café was doing a roaring trade.

Whilst drinking we carried on passing through the formal gardens, along the balustrade and down the grand steps to the fountain and pond. The gardens were laid out in the 1880s by the firm of James Pulham and Sons, the James Pulham who did the work being the third of four of that name to head up the company. There is a blue plaque to commemorate his work, and three parts of his work in the original grounds of the mansion also have Grade II listed status.

The fountain is one of them.

We walk down over the Ha Ha (yes really, that is its name)

and across Somerville Drive to the lake. In the lake is the second of the listed items, this little islet made from Pulhamite.

Pulhamite is a manmade stone that the firm James Pulham and Sons invented and used at a number of sites they worked on, including Newstead Abbey and Battersea Park. It has been found to have been made of sand, Portland cement, and clinker over a core of rubble and crushed bricks. It is difficult to tell that it isn’t real rocks. The firm were one of the stars of their day, and other examples of their work still survive at Sandringham and Buckingham Palace.

I knew there was another example of Pulhamite work somewhere in Worth Park, but on Friday afternoon it eluded us. Instead, we walked back up the hill in the direction of the flats and past this old horse chestnut tree, fenced off to try and prevent people climbing on it, and then on to St Catherine’s Road.

This was me collecting more road signs, with all the ones here been taken from Oxbridge colleges, some from Oxford, others from Cambridge and some that are at both.

The road meanders around and we found ourselves walking towards Peterhouse Parade (a Cambridge one), past the wide-open expanse of Grattons Park, where football training was in full effect, with footballs outnumbering people by at least three to one.

I rarely went in the Tavern in the years I lived that way, it would normally be the Snooty after work.

But I did frequent the row of shops on a weekly basis, especially getting an illicit burger or kebab from Real Barbeque whilst I was supposed to be out walking.

Just along from the shops are 55–59 Grattons Drive, locally listed, they were part of a farm that would have been on the Montefiores’ Worth Park estate.

Next to it and across the road are another couple of interesting looking buildings that have the look of being from a similar period.

From here it is a case of walking back to the car, taking the path between the school and bowling club. They rerouted the stream away from this part of the field a number of years ago, and it does look as if the water wants to have its old path back as it is quite boggy there still. There are even more dog walkers in the car park when we get back there, and again there is much more talking than walking taking place. Possibly involving the same people.

Having not found the remaining Pulhamite listed structure is needling me when I get home, so I get the full coordinates of it and find it was hidden behind the 1930s house that stands between the flats and Balcombe Road. If we had gone as far as Balcombe Road, then we would have been able to see it.

And so Saturday saw me head back over there to get some photos of it.

It was another lovely sunny day; the café was doing brisk business again. I’d walked over from town and gone up the wide expanse of Milton Mount Avenue to get there.

Walking through the flat’s car park meant I passed the community centre, which is in the grandest looking community centre building, something that had passed me by the day before.

Once there I stepped foot into Wakeham’s Green for the first time since I moved out nearly seven years ago. I took photos of various street signs again as I completed a loop of the estate. This included the one where I had lived for what seemed like thirty years between 2008 and 2014.

Continuing around I came to the Heathfield store, a law unto itself for opening times, and a constant source of frustration when trying to get newspapers if it was within half an hour of its advertised closing time, as they would already have been batched up for return.

The community centre next to it is more in common with those found anywhere else in Crawley apart from Milton Mount.

The next little bit of the estate was another collection of themed signs, this time bombers.

Plus, I always liked the sound of the word Nimrod. I think it’s a great word to use as an insult, and I had a picture from the side of Nimrod Court as my Facebook profile picture for a couple of years.

Back out on Balcombe Road I head back along to Worth Park Avenue, realising, probably for the first time ever that the grand looking building behind the wall on the other side of the road is, of course, the back of Ridley’s Court. It’s amazing how disconnected images can be when viewing the same place from different angles.

I turn to head down Worth Park Avenue, but in a nod to a past life of living in Pound Hill, I cheat and wait for the bus into town, having been out longer and later than intended. My fatbit has done its little wrist dance again, and its time to go home and have the usual Saturday night curry.

Acknowledgements for maps.

Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Maps — Horsham, Crawley & St Leonard’s Forest 1901. Alan Godfrey Maps, 2004.

The Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Maps — Three Bridges 1909. Alan Godfrey Maps, 2003.



Kev Neylon

Writing fiction, travel, history, sport, & music blogs. Monthly e-zine with all kinds of writing at www.onetruekev.co.uk. All pictures used are my own.