Portslade is the name of an area of the city of Brighton and Hove, England. Portslade Village, the original settlement a mile inland to the north, was built up in the 16th century. The arrival of the railway from Brighton in 1840 encouraged rapid development of the coastal area and in 1896 the southern part, known as Copperas Gap, was granted urban district status and renamed Portslade-by-Sea, making it distinct from Portslade Village. After World War II the district of Mile Oak was added. Today Portslade is bisected from east to west by the old A27 road (now the A270) between Brighton and Worthing, each part having a distinct character.
Portslade Village, to the north, nestles in a valley of the South Downs and still retains its rural character with flint buildings, a village green and the small parish church of St Nicolas, which is the second-oldest church in the city, dating from approximately 1150.
Another notable building in the village is Portslade Manor, one of the few surviving ruins of a Norman manor. It was built in the 12th century and is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Foredown Tower houses a camera obscura, one of only two in the south of England. It is open to the public.
Portslade-by-Sea, to the south, straddles the small but busy seaport harbour basin of Shoreham harbour and is the industrial centre of Brighton and Hove; the Monarch's Way long-distance footpath follows the seafront west towards Shoreham. Terraced housing dating back to the 19th century is interspaced with parks and allotments. The main shopping area is on Station Road. Boundary Road in neighbouring Hove is the location of Portslade and West Hove station, with direct trains to London Victoria with a journey time of about an hour.
Portslade is the boundary town with West Sussex and the dividing line is a footpath extending from the seafront up on to the South Downs. The adjacent areas of West Sussex are Southwick and Fishersgate with Fishersgate occurring south of the railway line. Fishersgate has its own railway station and like the Portslade station actually occurs at the boundary.
Portslade in History
Portslade has been suggested as being the Roman port Novus Portus mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography of the 2nd century AD. Drove Road, in the original Portslade Village, has been linked with the Roman road (sometimes known as the "London to Portslade Way") that passes through Patcham valley to Haywards Heath and on to Streatham in London. The Old Shoreham Road is thought to form part of the Chichester (Noviomagus Reginorum) to Portslade Roman road. Roman remains and a Roman burial site were found in Roman Road. The name of the town had been thought to stem from the Roman placename Portus Adurni (modern Portchester), but this is based on a misidentification of Shoreham-by-Sea as Portus Adurni by Michael Drayton in the 17th century. Indeed, the River Adur, whose mouth has moved many times due to longshore drift and erosion, was also named from this misidentification. The actual etymology of Portslade may be portus- + -ladda, way to the port, where ladda is from the Old English for way, but this is conjectural at best.
The old name, Copperas Gap, for Portslade-by-Sea suggests that the coast was used for the production of copperas or green vitriol, a form of ferrous sulphate used extensively in the textile industry. The process took over six years and made use of iron pyrite-rich nodules that could be found in the strata of Sussex greensand stone that emerges at this point in the coast.
A part-finished assembly hall in Portslade became an Odeon Cinema about 1930 when George Coles, one of the Odeon chain's principal architects, adapted the original design.
Portslade-by-Sea was an urban district from the late 19th century to 1974, when it became part of the borough of Hove, later to become part of the city of Brighton and Hove. Portslade Town Hall is on Victoria Road, and is used as a venue for various functions.