Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Elephants at the bottom of the Street

Thursday 13 July 1899 was a very special day in Brighton. 

Over excited children hadn't been able to sleep the night before and expectant adults lined the streets three deep. 

The circus was in town! 

There goes The Greatest Show On Earth

The lucky folk living in Temple Street could just stroll out of their houses and there it was, slowly going past the bottom of the road, making its lumbering, noisy, fantastic way along Western Road into town. 

This wasn't any old travelling amusement either – it was Barnum and Bailey's, the most famous circus in the world on its grand tour of Europe.

The American show was travelling around the country by railway that year and, as was the custom by then, on leaving its special train, it paraded through town to advertise that night's show. 

The crowds lapped it up. That year Barnum and Bailey's procession was three miles long and included a menagerie, exotic horsemen, dozens of elephants, clowns, acrobats, jugglers, an enthroned king and queen, a military band, 70 horses, untold sundry beasts and a collection of 'living human curiosities'. 

Here are two interesting old photos showing the southern end of Temple Street, looking west, as the procession rumbled by, and one shot taken from Bedford Square looking east.

   In the two photos featuring Temple Street there is no sign of Temple Bar on the corner, showing a shop called Pullars instead.

The third photo shows the less exotic back end of the parade. An omnibus is following on and many of the crowd are starting to walk behind it. You can see that all the houses on the north side of in Western Road, looking east, still have their gardens at this time, before they lost them in its gradual widening. The Council started to buy up houses on the north side in 1906 but it wasn't until 1935 that the final property came into line, all gardens were gone, and the widening could be completed.

Looks like it might have been a sunny July day judging by the parasol on the top of the omnibus

  Photographs thanks to the Regency Society and James Gray Collection

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Fighting against the closure of our Post Office

We're being told to use the Melville Road PO up the hill in Seven Dials

Our local Post Office branch at 22 Western Road is under threat. Is it already a done deal? The Post Office claim not, saying that a public consultation, which ends on 16 September 2015, will be taken seriously.

The Post office is a priceless asset in our area, and its closure would be a great loss. What can we do?

Sign the petition in local shops and online. Go to www.38degrees.org.uk and search for 'Brunswick'.

The petition says: “Brunswick Town in Hove is a densely populated area and the post office proposed for closure is at the centre of the community, is very well used and has won many awards.

“Post Office Limited states that alternative provision will be accessible to residents but this provision is a mile away up a hill.

“We worry about elderly and infirm residents being able to access the new ‘merged’ post office in Melville Road.

“Our Post Office in Brunswick Town provides an essential public service where people need it and we wholly oppose plans to close it.”

Fill in the consultation form. At a recent public meeting, the Post Office Representatives said this was key. They will take notice if we tell them how useful this branch is and how closing it will create problems for many of us. Go to www.postofficeviews.co.uk and enter branch code 010907

Write to Paula Vennells, CEO of Post Office Ltd.
Your letters and postcards can be taken into CITY BOOKS, next to the Post Office, or send to FREEPOST Your comments

Contact you local media and get busy on Twitter.

Spread the word and maybe our Post Office can be saved.

Friday, 31 July 2015

The value of a Temple Street house - in 1936

An old Auctioneer's note of Particulars from 1936

So houses in the street were fetching around £750 in those days. That, by one method of reckoning here, is the equivalent of £47,596 in 2015 allowing for inflation – which is less than a tenth of the going price now (in some cases, much less).

It was leased from The Portsmouth and Brighton United Breweries who owned a number of Brighton pubs at this time.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Of goats and kids

One of the most popular images on our website – judging from the number of times we’ve seen it copied –  is that of young Reg Grey driving a goat cart down the street in 1919. Reg later owned a hairdresser’s at Number 23 and his wife Enid Grey still lives in the street over the road at Number 37.

Reg’s mum or dad, or perhaps an indulgent uncle, would most likely have hired the cart nearby on the seafront next to Hove Lawns. Goat carts had been a popular attraction in Brighton since the 1830s, according to the Francis Frith website, but they were expensive, costing one shilling per hour by the mid 19th century.
Reg and his little sister Rita driving their goat cart down Temple Street

A flower girl and goat carts for hire near Hove Lawns, c.1890

A goat should only pull about 1 ½ times its own weight, according to experts in the field, so the little carts were perfect for carrying young'uns up and down the front, but they were also used for more workaday duties by tradesmen of the time, delivering items such as milk, vegetables and barrels of water.

Many of the carts, few of which have survived, were beautifully made by craftsmen and two motor companies of later renown, Peugeot in France and Studebaker in America, manufactured them before moving on to more glamorous vehicles.

Sadly the goats were often abused and ill treated. Local councils at seaside resorts later licensed all operators giving goat carriage rides and conditions improved somewhat.

In Brighton, the last known Harness Goat Licence was issued in 1953.

A couple of Victorian children take 'Our Morning Ride' on Madeira Drive

Saturday, 28 March 2015

It's Number 3 in '83

This is Number 3 Temple Street in 1983 when the Jinks family bought it. It looks much the same today. Reg and his family had originally started renting it in 1961.

Now, in 2015, Number 3 awaits its first new occupants for 54 years.

And they've arrived! See below.

Number 4 looks like it could do with a little attention

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Very Old Postbox in the Wall

Pre 1890: the interesting postbox set in a wall

There's an unusual  postbox around the corner, set in the wall of Montpelier Terrace, in which many Temple Street residents still post their letters. All we knew about it was that it was Victorian, and looked interesting. Roger Amerena of the Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission, was consulted. He is not only a fount of knowledge about our area, but lives just feet away from the box in Montpellier Hall.

Mr Amerena has provided just what we needed. He writes

'The two identical Montpelier Terrace and Temple Gardens wall letter boxes are from the 1887 series known as "the Jubilee Boxes".

W.T.Allen and Co of London were awarded the contract to make them in 1886 and that company continued to produce these same styles for another 75 years.

Allen's produced three sizes which were in production for this period. Type A, the largest; Type B WB/85 (formerly No 1) which are in situ in Montpelier Terrace and Temple Gardens; and Type C (No 2).

Type B is fairly common nationally but still important in postal history. In Brighton it was rare. The style was installed in Brighton prior to Hove Corporation being established in the 1890's. Thus there are not known any to be placed in Hove.
I understand the Montpelier box was installed for Alderman Sir Joseph Ewart JP MD, who was Mayor of Brighton three times from 1891 to 1894.
Alderman Sir Joseph was ex Irish Militia and Deputy Surgeon General of the Bengal Army, and been in service during the Indian Mutiny. He later became Surgeon General of the Indian Army, and after contracting typhoid, retired to Brighton in 1879 to live in Montpellier Hall. 
For mayoral duties this box would have been important to him – in those days you could post a letter in the morning and get a reply in the afternoon. The Brighton telephone service had not quite arrived.'