Saturday, 24 May 2014

Back to the 1920s on the corner

The shop signage from the Caffyns' showroom of the 1920s
The extensive refurbishment of the corner shop at 123-4 Western Road has revealed the original signage from the days when it was a car showroom for Caffyns. It opened in 1920.

After Classical Lighting – eventually! – closed, the shop briefly served as a vintage second-hand outlet for the Martlets charity, and is now being completely fitted out as an ice cream parlour.

Here's hoping that the original signage, with its classy embossed gold lettering set behind glass, can somehow be incorporated into the new scheme.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

1950s-60s: the ladies of Temple Street

June Holloway has lived in Temple Street since the early 1950s. Here she looks back at some of the memorable characters who were her neighbours in those days

June Holloway in the 1980s
The thing that I most remember is the women. Back in the 1950s the street always used to full of older women, and when I looked into it later as I did a bit of local research, I discovered that quite a lot of the houses were owned by women and I realised, thinking about it afterwards, that these women fell into a number of groups.

There were the ones who had never had a husband because of the First World War, and those who'd had a husband who'd died in the War, and those who's husbands had just gone, for one reason or another. There seemed to be an enormous quantities of very strong women coping on their own, and even amongst those who had husbands, it was these women who seemed to be the ones who were assertive.

They were real characters, wonderful people – these are just a few…

Cissie Crook, for example, who died only about 10 years ago at 98 – she lived from 1932 at number 8 and was the wife of Soloman Crook, who was one of the tailors who had lived in the street. She was a very tiny lady, but nobody argued with her! Cissie had that way of talking to people which was bantering, but sounded very fierce until you got to know that she always had a sweet in her pocket for a small child.

In her later years she took a taxi down to the casino in the afternoons. She was almost completely deaf by that stage, and she used to say 'I can't do anything else these days - but I can go down there, I take £20 and then I lose it, but they're very nice to me, give me a little glass of something...'

Cissie Crook (centre) with Enid Gray and her daughters, Jane
Miss Coop lived at number 42. Did you ever see Giles cartoons? Well, she was just like Auntie Vera – Auntie Vera had a great long black coat down to the ground, a black felt hat and a perpetual drip on the end of her nose, and Miss Coop was a bit like that. She must have been in her 80s and she lived alone. She'd always come out in the morning with her shopping basket and go off to do her bits of shopping; she was like a little bird. When she died in her house they went in and they found piles and piles of wet newspapers, from all the damp coming up through the floorboards.
Auntie Vera
 At number 41 was Mrs Hughes, a Welsh lady, she was straight out of Dylan Thomas in her apron or overall with sleeves rolled up to reveal burly forearms. She would always be outside with her broom, because that's where the gossip was to be had, with anyone who walked past.

Besides, every proper housewife washed their doorstep before 10 each morning in those days. She once killed a rat with that broom.

Mrs Hughes had a faded ex-Indian army widow friend who lived nearby. They would always go out together. A lot of people around that time, in the 1950s, used to have a lodger, letting out one room here or there to help pay the bills.

Hyacinth Morton, at number 31, was the stepdaughter of Sir Ronald Storrs, who had been Governor of Jerusalem in the days of Laurence of Arabia, so she was brought up as the daughter of a very wealthy house, and she had the most amazing upper class accent.

Hyacinth had met everybody - she was a winner at a dinner party, coming out with things like "Yes, well I met King Farouk, he was dreadful man. When I was introduced to him he said, "Take this women away - I can't abide ugly women!" – and 'I remember George Bernard Shaw really well. I sat on his knee when I was 12." And she was at one of the Nuremberg Rallies and was on the platform 20 feet away from Hitler. 'He was so charismatic,' she said, 'I had to hold onto my hands so I didn't shout "Sieg Heil" as well!'

She was wonderful. I once met her on the street - this was by the time Peter and I were married, and she said 'Ah! Send the dear boy over this evening, will you - I've got a light bulb that needs changing. You'll come over and have a little gin with me whilst he's doing it.' I said 'Right, okay - about six?' and she said 'I'll get out my diary...'

Sir Ronald Storrs, Governor of Jerusalem
One rather strange lady had a penchant for scratching doors and cars with her keys. She was a simple soul, who'd had a horrible accident, been injured and received a sum in compensation. A taxi driver had become her "best friend", and used to take her to places – and systematically robbed her of the entire £20,000 she'd received, which was a lot of money at the time.

Mrs Shepherd, the ever-cheerful Irish lady at 27a, was married to a merchant seaman who came back home every two or three years. They had two children together and in 1958 their son was getting married, and wanted some money for the wedding, so he offered to paint the outside of our house – and that was the first time it was done. The price was £18, my mother was very happy with that – and so was he, it paid for the honeymoon.

Mrs Agomber was a very sad widow, she was a lodger in number 28, on the top floor. She'd lost her husband in the First World War, and must have been in her 80s when we arrived in the Street in 1953. We used to go and buy pink paraffin for her at Mence Smith, the ironmongers on the corner of Montpelier Road, where the Mad Hatter is now. She used it in her old oil heater that was her only source of heat. It must have been horrifically dangerous.

She became ill, and she was beside herself with fear; 'They'll take me to the workhouse, they'll take me to the workhouse – I'll die on the hill,' she said. This is the building that is now Brighton General Hospital at the top of Elm Grove, which in living memory did indeed used to be the Workhouse.

And sure enough, when she became ill, they took her there and she was terrified, and she died there.

Of course these are just a few – there were many others, great characters and good neighbours over the years, who have all been a part of what has made this street such a splendid and interesting place to live.

June and Peter

Sunday, 16 March 2014

A very short cut to the pub

Number 12 used to have a very useful facility – direct access to the Borough Tavern that was at number 39 Borough Street. The back of the pub was just on the other side of the wall, and there was a doorway between the two properties.

The passage from the pub emerges in Temple Street, giving thirsty punters a very handy short cut.

Ian Burridge, who now owns number 12, told me he had come across a blocked off doorway when he was renovating a room at the back of his property, in the position that can be seen on the Ordnance Survey below.

This seems to explain the glass ball hanging outside the house in the recently discovered photograph, detail below, on which the word 'Spirits' can be seen. Spirits and more were to be enjoyed only a few steps away.

Temple Street on an Ordnance Survey map of the 1890s

 The passageway to the pub (marked P.H.) through Number 11 Temple Street
The glass ball advertising 'Wines, To Order, Spirits' above the passageway to the pub in Borough Street

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Flu jab needed at Number 42

This was back in 1969 – and in those days, it seems, the jab was not readily available. A letter sent to The Times.

'The pocket Cassius Clay': Cuban boxer José Legra - twice WBC World Featherweight Champion

Friday, 14 February 2014

'The street was a lot grimmer in those days'

June Holloway has lived here since she was a child – and she's told us of what life was like in Temple Street in the 1950s. Here's the first part

June moved into the Street in 1954
We arrived in 1954, and my mother having bought this house, no. 20, for £2500. We got a £500 mortgage and my grandmother said at the time 'you'll never get your money back on that'.

The street was a lot grimmer in those days, the houses weren't painted, they were all the colour of cement. It was only 10 years after the war, and there was paint peeling around the windows, and a lot of brown, dark green, and black, no colour in the street at all. There weren't any flowers outside or anything like that, and we still had the Victorian lamp posts which had been converted from gas.

The lamp posts had a bar sticking up at the side, and when you got to a certain size as a child, you were tall enough to climb onto it, reach up swing on the bar. That was a sort of rite of passage. Actually there were few children in the street then, just as there still are, it's never been a family type of street, and those that were there didn't play out.

Thomas Kemp, who owned the land, sold my plot to a sea captain, no 20,  and he lived in the house until he died – I think he got a loan from Thomas Kemp in order to build it.



The three Gothic-style  houses at 3,4 and 5 were for the Reverend Gentleman who ran the school which was over in Borough Street, and they also housed the lady who ran the girls' school, and I think No. 5 was a school for the girls, where they could learn to be domestic servants. Renee Shulman, who used to live at number 2, did quite a lot of research on it.

No 1 was in use as a shop – 25-30 years ago it was a hairdresser's. Karen the hairdresser told me at the time that there was a cellar underneath with a floor with gulleys in it and  big hooks in the ceiling – they thought it was probably a butcher's shop and they would have hung the meat there. It was a turf accountant in 1967, and then a hairdresser again - there were all sorts of little businesses coming and going in the street.

There were two Jewish tailors – Mr Altman, who worked from home at no. 7, and Mr Crook (next door at no 8) who had a business down in Bedford Square - there was a quite a large Jewish community in Hove and the area around in the early years after the War. Cissie Crook was a great character and we'll come to her later.

No. 41 is a private house now, but was previously part of Inmans, the auctioneers, and before that, an engineering works called Hamiltons – they had a crane and used to take engines in for repair.

When we moved in back in '54 the corner shop opposite the Temple Bar (formerly Classic Lighting and now the Martlets Charity Shop) used to sell fireplaces - 'fyreplaces' as they called them. They went broke and a shop selling tiles moved in – that would be in the 70s.

There was an auctioneer's in the street for a long time and they only moved out in 2005. They were called Perry's when I was little, and they sold on to Inmans. They owned no. 35, and they took over Hamilton's the engineering works at 41, so there was an Upper Inmans and a Lower Inmans. They had some very good bargains and we bought a couple of very good pieces of art there, that went for a song. I always used to leave a bid there, rather than bid in person – never brave enough to bid in person I knew I had no self-restraint!

Sale days were busy and exciting. In those days Brighton was a great antique centre, and there were some very dubious characters. They gathered out in the street before and after to fix prices among themselves. I think it was called a Ring, and it was illegal – very Graham Greene!



At the top of the road on Montpelier Place there was a complete parade of shops – an electricians on the top corner, next to that a greengrocers, then a newsagent, next to that there was a junk shop, then there was The Montpelier pub, which is still there now.

Across from that on the Borough Street corner there was a sweetshop, which also had a little library, next door to that was a delicatessan, then there was a little gap, then on the corner of Norfolk Road there was a dairy, where there's a little grocery shop and off-licence now.

On the other side was a boot repairers and a butcher's, so you could just go up there and do your shopping, except my Grandma would always insist on going to International Stores and Sainsbury's on Western Road, and have a cup of coffee in Lyon's while we were there.

Western Road in the 1960s

In those days, Western Road was still quite Victorian in its way. The Sainsburys was a corridor-style shop, with marble slab counters on both sides, and you queued up for each item. They gave you a little docket, and you went up to a lady in a paybooth at the end. The butter was a big slab, and they chopped bits off, then they did mysterious things with two wooden patters to make it into a square, and wrapped it in greaseproof paper.

You waited in a series of queues, different ones for the bacon, another queue for the was still the wartime mentality and people expected to queue up.

It was just the women who shopped - I used to go out with my grandmother when I was about seven to do her shopping,  because there was no fridge, just a larder which was outside on the roof, and a meatsafe with a perforated thing on the side. You'd go out every day with your string bag – it was only the women you'd see out, the men were all at work, and the women were doing their marketing.

My grandmother never went out without a coat and a hat on, you were respectable when you went out shopping, none of this casual stuff. It was all still very formal, and you addressed your neighbour as 'Mrs So-and-So'– you could live next door to her for 30 years and still call her 'Mrs So-and-So.'

When my mother died in 1976 she was still calling other people in the street 'Mrs So-and-So'. I suppose it was in the late 70s and early 80s it loosened up...


Friday, 3 January 2014

When we weren't even named Temple...

Back in the early days of the development of the Street, it wasn't known as Temple Street at all – a map from 1830, just as the street was first being developed, shows it called Bedford Square Road, which was cut in half by Western Road and carried on south to Bedford Square itself.
Early days, and just a small clutch of houses have been built on the East Side of what was to become Temple Street