Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Temple Street People: ENID GRAY


Enid Gray is Temple Street's oldest resident. She lives with her companion Derek van Eerde at 37 Temple Street, which still has a small hairdressing salon at the front of the house. Her mother-in-law had run the business until Enid took it over in the 1940s with her late husband Reginald. Enid has two daughters, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Here are a few of her memories, told in her own words.

‘I was born in Brighton on 10 October 1919, so I'll be 94 next birthday.... it was at our home in Loder Road going up to Five Ways, then we moved to Richmond Terrace in Richmond Place, opposite St Peter’s Church, one of those very tall houses.

‘My mother had a maid living in – everyone did in those days – and when I was around five we moved to Portsmouth because my father was a officer in the Royal Navy.

Enid taking an early bath at Loder Road
Enid as a baby sitting in the garden at Loder Road
‘We lived in Laburnum Grove which was nicknamed Brass Button Avenue, because that was where the officers lived, and he was a Chief Engine Room Officer. I think I only ever saw him once or twice because he was away at sea a lot...he just sort of dropped in now and again.

‘In 1926, his ship HMS Valerian went down in a hurricane just off Bermuda, and he was drowned...I just remember being palmed off with some relation and they gave me porridge, and I hated porridge!

HMS Valerian, a 1200 ton minesweeper, was stationed in the West Indies
An artist's impression of HMS Valerian overwhelmed by a massive storm in 1926
'It was dreadful for my mother of course, and I do remember that it was a terrible time too for my grandmother who was living in the house opposite St Peter's Church. Her husband, who had been the Brighton and Hove Senior Manager of a Building Society in Ship Street, suddenly lost his job when it was discovered he'd gambled all the money away.

'Then he died, and my grandmother had to sell the house – it was very sad. My mother was a widow, and so it was two widows who went back to Portsmouth, and they started up a haberdashery shop together.

‘I first went to school in Portsmouth and when I was 12 we came back to Brighton and I was sent to Varndean, which was a private school in those days which you had to pay for. I wasn't clever enough for a scholarship, but as I had lost my father on active service, the Navy paid for my fees.

'I met Reg, my husband to be, at the Top Rank ice rink in Brighton when I fell over and he picked me up.
'He’d been at high school on the Isle of Man when his father died and he had to give up his studies. He moved to Brighton to live with his mother and grandmother.

'We were married in 1937 and lived first in Hollingbury Road, then we moved to 23 Temple Street, his family home  – my mother-in-law, who was called Winnie Lane, had actually been born at Number 46.

'Temple Street was just as it is now, but without the cars. The people were very nice and there were more families than nowadays – they didn't have all these students. All single houses, much better.

'In the war we went back to Portsmouth to be near my mother who'd moved back there again.

1944: Enid in her VAD uniform
Enid's husband Reg (sixth from right, top) with a group of Chindits. The Chindits were a British Special Force that served in Burma and India in 1943-44 and were trained to operate deep behind Japanese lines
 ‘I joined the VADs, which stood for the Voluntary Aid Detachment, but that wasn't what the boys called us. They used to make up names like Virgin After Destruction, or Virgin In Distress!

‘Reg went off to Burma as a Chindit, fighting under Colonel Wingate, and I became a nurse, though not a qualified medical one.

'I just used to look after the boys, put them on the bedpans, that sort of thing... washing their things...and give them enemas. That was awful. The first one I gave went wrong and it went all the over the bed...there were Queen Alexandra's Nurses in charge of us, and they were very strict. They were very cross.

‘Then there was one time when I was supposed to be giving a sleeping draft to a patient. He had been such a grumpy man that I woke him up to give it to him!

Enid worked as a nurse in the Second World War
 ‘After the war we moved back into Temple Street. Reg’s uncle had a hairdressing academy in First Avenue, the place is still there, so Reg knew the hairdressing business, and he trained me.

‘We had two children, Lynne and Jane. There was no bathroom so they were bathed in the kitchen sink.

'There was a builders yard owned by Mr. Crump next door to us, and they worked on barrows. Every morning at 8 o’ clock we'd hear the barrows and we knew we had to get up.

'The lighting shop which has just shut, the one on the corner, used to be a car showroom. We were up at the other end of the Street – June Smythe who still lives in the street used to go to school with my eldest daughter Lynne. There used to be a saleroom next door but one to us – it was quite nice, I used to pop in and have a look – they've got quite a nice place in Hove now.
1919 – Enid's future husband Reg driving a goat cart down Temple Street. Sister Rita riding shotgun
 'They were lots of fishermen's houses in this street before we lived here, that's what I've been told anyway. I have a picture of my husband as a boy, in a goat cart picture playing in the middle of the road – you couldn't do that now.

Reginald and Enid outside their hairdressers at 23 Temple Street
'We had a hairdressers, and it's always been in our house - first at Number 23 with my mother-in-law and then in the house we're in now, Number 37. We bought it for £3,000.

‘We were always very busy – we never had a sign, we had a big glass plate and that was always in the window. I remember a new customer coming in and I asked if someone had recommended us, and she said 'no, but I always thought your house looked so clean and your curtains so nice.'

‘We never had to have any advertising and the business always flourished. The mayoress used to come up here every week to have her hair done. Our customers were such lovely people – if we didn't like anybody we wouldn't have them!

'We had three basins and six chairs – we worked very hard, and we always had an apprentice who would stay with us for three years. Many of the customers used to say 'no I don't really want him to do my hair' ...they were lovely boys, though, but they had to go after three years.

L-R: Mrs Sara Dampman, Enid's mother-in-law; Enid's daughter Jane, Reginald and Enid at a golf dinner in the 1960s

'My eldest daughter recently had her hair done on the Western Road – it cost £70, £100 in all – in our day we charged £2.00, which was quite a lot of money then. But we did have a good life, we always had wonderful holidays, used to drive over and take the children to France and Germany.

'Once one of my customers said 'look at this' and handed me a brochure which said 'a trip on Concorde to Cairo for a week' and I said it was lovely but I couldn't afford that. She said, 'Oh no, I want to take you, I want to pay for you, I don't want you to spend a halfpenny...'

'I've still got one customer, who lives in Horsham, and comes down every fortnight, and I've been doing her hair for 60 years, and she's a year younger than me. She's forbidden me to die before her, because nobody can do her hair like I do!

Enid in her garden after moving over the road to 37 Temple Street

Enid in her hairdressing salon at 37 Temple Street
‘After I die the house is going to stay in the family. I didn't want it sold. My girls are soon going to turn my salon in the front into a bedroom, which I will use, and the back room into a new sitting room.

‘Derek, my ‘toyboy’ is 79, and we’ve known each other since 1990. How did we meet? He’ll tell you.’

Enid's companion Derek van Eerde, who first met her in 1990

‘I used to be in farming, ‘ Derek says, ‘we had a pick your own soft fruit enterprise – Enid came to pick some strawberries and I got chatting with her because I wanted to change my car that year, and I wanted a Honda or I thought I did at the time, and she came by in a little Honda Civic. We got chatting, and that's how it all started. She soon had me picking the fruit for her!’

Enid at Montpellier Hall, a fine late Regency villa in nearby Montpelier Terrace owned by her friend Roger Amerena

‘I'm having such a lovely life,’ Enid says. ‘I went out yesterday to a pub for a meal for Derek's birthday, they were seven of us, all gay, except for Derek, and my son-in law – they were so good to me – they buy me things and they're so lovely. I've still got a lot of things to do.'

14 March 2013. After Enid's unveiling of the new Temple Street sign, from left: Brighton and Hove Mayor, Bill Randall; Enid; Derek; Enid's daughter Jane

Thursday, 9 May 2013

OLD TEMPLARS - notable people who have lived in Temple Street 2

Mr Robert Dick 

Lived at 37 Temple Street c1910-13 

From the Sussex Daily News, 18 July, 1913



Those who have been familiar these many years with the arresting personality of Mr Robert Thomson Dick will find it hard to realise that he has passed beyond their ken.

For although his life had extended far beyond the allotted span, no one could ever think of him as an old man, so firm to the last was his hold upon those faculties which govern the intellect and the frame.

The end to a long and adventurous life came, however, in that manner which suggests but a general transition, at his Brighton residence, 37 Temple Street, at 1.30pm yesterday, at the ripe old age of 89 years, Mr Dick having been born on 16 November 1824 during the reign of George IV.

There are many people still living who can remember his coaching establishment at 80, Montpelier Road, when he was known as Dr. Dick.

Mr Dick as a young man

Among those who came to him at Brighton for special tuition were the Hon A.J.Balfour, the sons of the Rt.Hon W.E.Gladstone and Sir Courteney Warner, MP.

The deceased was very proud of being a Scotsman, his native place being a small village near Dunbar in East Lothian, and still more proud was he of his intimate association with Thackeray and Charles Dickens with whom he was a contemporary.

Many and interesting were the tales he could recount of evenings spent with these brilliant 18th Century (sic) luminaries at the old Evans Supper Rooms in London.

He was eventually engulfed in the political whirlpool, and under the regime of Lord Palmerston, became a Fenian in the pay of the Government. He was also at the command of the late Lord Beaconsfield, when Mr Disraeli, during the time when that statesman sought to prove that the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland had no connection with Fenianism.

The late Mr. Dick was a wonderful linguist, and was conversant with the manners and customs of every European people, for he had travelled Europe over

Deeply interesting among his recollections was the exciting adventure of being taken prisoner by brigands, for which outrage the British Government claimed and won him £3000. Out of this sum he paid Garibaldi £1,000, in return for which Garibaldi made him a Captain in his company.
Guiseppe Garibaldi, Italian general and politician

It was this very company that saved the great library of the Vatican, which Captain Dick himself defended, standing with others upon the steps of the building with a pistol in each hand, threatening with his fellows to shoot the first man who threw a torch.

Mr Dick in later life
Mr Dick has left the memoirs of his colourful life in the hands of his daughter, Mrs A.C.Greenwood, to whom the sympathy of many friends is extended today.

Mr Dick's death was front page news in 1913

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

OLD TEMPLARS – notable people who have lived in Temple Street 1

Professor Patrick Rivett 

Lived at 10 Temple Street 1967-89

Professor Rivett, third from right, with his peers
Operational research - the use of scientific methods to
solve organisational problems - came to the fore during the
Second World War under the influence of distinguished
scientists like Patrick Blackett, Charles Ellis and Charles
Goodeve. The unique contribution of Patrick Rivett was to
provide the focus and drive necessary to transform a
military activity into one widely used in UK industry and

Although he was born in Shropshire, Pat Rivett's family moved to London when he was only three months old, because an older brother had obtained a place at King's College. Their father was an inspector with the NSPCC, covering the Old Kent Road. Pat Rivett himself was a dedicated Christian
and politically left of the centre until his mid-forties.

Prof Rivett gained a first in Mathematics at King's, Cambridge
In due course, he followed in his brother's footsteps, with the intention of becoming a schoolteacher, but a first class degree in Mathematics resulted in his being drafted in 1943 into a statistics group within the Ministry of Supply. Rivett was assigned to a team working on the quality control
of ammunitions production, and the transformation of the mathematician to a practitioner interested in real problems was quickly made. His natural talent for communication was first put to the test when explaining control charts to operatives who had left school at 14.

The ending of the war changed the nature of the work and
Rivett was transferred internally to the Ordnance Board,
working directly to military officers on fragmentation
patterns of shells and bombs. He could not see the point of
it, but kept himself very busy by first obtaining an MSc at
Birkbeck College and then lecturing two nights each week at
Battersea Polytechnic. The extra money that he earned
enabled him to marry, as it so happened into a South Wales
mining family, and that produced a strong emotional desire
to work in the coal industry.

In 1951, he became head of the National Coal Board's Field
Investigation Group, which he built up to what became the
largest operational research group in the UK. High
recruitment standards were set and staff then taught each
other about new developments through a formalised learning
process. The excellence of the work carried out became
widely known, and Rivett was delighted when his staff went
off to other jobs, so spreading operational research (OR),
with many subsequently obtaining professorships.

During this period, he became the honorary secretary of the
Operational Research Society when it was first formed from
the OR Club. Working from his desk in the Coal Board, Rivett
set about transforming the club into a learned society, with
a quarterly publication which has since become a leading
international monthly journal.

At Lancaster University, Professor Rivett became the first Professor of OR outside the US

Whilst at the Coal Board, he had visited the United States
and even taken a two-week course at the Case Institute of
Technology, where he had struck up a close friendship with
Russ Ackoff. When Lancaster University was founded, its
first Vice-Chancellor decided that Operational Research
would be one of the first two departments to be formed and
Ackoff recommended Rivett to Charles Carter. Thus in 1963 he
became the first professor of OR outside the US.

In 1967 he moved to Brighton. He was
thoroughly miserable

Once again, he was in at the beginning of something new and
set about the work with enormous enthusiasm. The foundations
were laid for the highest regarded OR department in a UK
university. Close relationships were established with
industry. Both teaching and research had a strong
applications flavour. Other universities quickly noted its
success and Rivett was approached by Sussex, which at that
time had a glamorous image. Making what he later described
as a great mistake, in 1967 he moved to Brighton. He was
thoroughly miserable. The university did not like his
contacts with industry, there were demonstrations against
what he was trying to do and his filing cabinets were broken
into. When his wife died and he was left with a young
daughter, he worked part-time, before retiring in 1988 when
the opportunity presented itself.

Shortly after retirement, he found great happiness in his
second marriage. A move to Cumbria enabled him to renew his
contacts with operational research at Lancaster. With more
time for research, he worked with health authorities in
Lancashire on the delivery of health care for the frail
elderly and the preventive management of coronary heart
disease, because he firmly believed that OR was to improve
the human condition.

He also replied to the 50 or so letters that he received
each week, for his natural affability had made many friends.
Indeed his eloquence could make any topic sound exciting,
not least when he was talking about football, in which Pat
Rivett had a passionate interest, and he sentimentally
supported Millwall to the end.

Alan Mercer
The Independent
18 August 2005