The Telscombe Cottage with a Hidden Secret.
By Roy Grant
There used to be a small cottage on the seaward side of the South Coast Road near the Telscombe Cliffs. The views must have been magnificent, but nobody ever seemed to live there. I presume that was because it was never actually built to be lived in and also had a very deep cellar. If you look closely at the attached then and now illustrations you will discover more.
The cottage was a phony, built to hide the entrance to a lengthy hidden staircase which led to an equally hidden position in the cliffs below. The purpose of the cottage therefore was to conceal the shaft which gave access the original Portabello sewer pipe. When the recent modifications to the sewerage outfall were made, the cottage with magnificent sea views that presumably had never been lived in, ceased to be required. Post Script. Has anyone got a picture of the cottage? Not either of the two that are now by the roadside, but the original one that split the difference between the coast road and the cliff face.
In an effort to find out more about the actual route of the sewer pipe which dates from 1875 by the way, I discovered that in Tim Carder's Encyclopedia of Brighton it also had a little more about the cottage itself.
Tim wrote, "There were sixty ventilating shafts along its length including a 102-foot chimney erected on the cliff top to the south-east of Roedean School; a coke fire was used to produce a continuous flow of air through the sewer, but the chimney was demolished in 1933 for the construction of Marine Drive although the concrete base remains. Another ventilating shaft was built in 1885 at Rottingdean Heights disguised as an octagonal-shaped house; it was known as The Mortuary because the bodies of ship-wrecked sailors were kept there before burial, but the building was demolished following its sale in 1973. There were also ventilation flues built into the corners of the Madeira Lift shaft."
Above are the original plans of the cottage; theBottom left on second image of the plans is a drawing of the marker that used to be at the end of the outfall. All Photos courtesy of Roy Grant.
Below is an aerial image of where the cottage was situated.
In the old postcard image (date unknown) below the cottage is seen top centre.
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