11 August 2019

Church Road, Hove.

Judy Middleton 2002 (revised 2022)

copyright © J.Middleton
This evocative view shows how Church Road looked more than one hundred years ago. It was posted on 25 October 1903 to a youngster in Prestonpans, Scotland with the message ‘This is the place for boats, quite a lot of them lying on lovely sandy beaches’


In the 1860s the only way of getting from the foot of Hova Villas to the church of St John the Baptist was by traversing a 15-ft wide gravelled walk situated between high walls, and there was a hanging lamp at either end. There was only one break, and that was where a rough country track (later Wilbury Road) led from the sea north to Preston village.

If a funeral procession needed to go from the Brunswick area to St Andrew’s Old Church, it was obliged to travel along the seafront road and then turn north up one of the Cliftonville roads.

copyright © J.Middleton
This was sketched from an original work depicting part of Hove in 1869 when the length of Church Road, as we know it, did not exist. The Gasworks are seen to the left of the church

The area in front of the church had different boundaries in those days because the churchyard extended further south than it does today. There was also the problem known as The Bunion – this was a brewery building at the top of Osborne Villas that jutted out into what was then known as Church Street.

In 1862 the inhabitants of Cliftonville sent a petition to the trustees of the Stanford Estate stating they were confident they had ‘succeeded in inducing Sir Francis Goldsmid at once to open a carriageway’ from the north of Palmeira Square and St John’s Church. This meant that ‘you will be be thus enabled to continue such carriage road to Church Street, Cliftonville.’ The petitioners reminded the trustees that such a road would no doubt enhance the value of adjacent building land.

The carriageway was duly laid out, but it still belonged to the Stanford Estate. In 1872 the West Hove Commissioners were obliged to write to the Stanford Estate complaining about the bad state of the road, and asking them to repair it.

On 8 August 1874 the Stanford Estate trustees sold some land in First Avenue to William Morris of 22 Abingdon Street, Westminster, and the deal included part of the south side of Church Street.

It is fascinating to note the strict covenants regarding what type of business might be carried out in such a select area as Church Street, and the following were forbidden:

Tallow chandler
Melter of tallow
Soap melter or boiler
Tobacco pipe maker
Common brewer
Working brazier
Tin-plate worker
Tripe boiler
Fried fish seller
Vendor of coals
Beater of flax

In 1892 the part of the road between Third Avenue and the Albion Inn was lowered on the south side because the gradient was steep enough to be dangerous to vehicles. The road west of Holland Road to the Albion Inn was finally declared a public highway in July 1884.

Removal of Part of the Churchyard

copyright © J.Middleton
Although this photograph of St Andrew’s Old Church does not show the south part of the churchyard, which was destroyed, it does show the eastern part that has been obliterated in more recent times

It has already been noted that the churchyard extended further south than the present day boundary. On 7 February 1895 a Faculty was granted to the Hove Commissioners in order to appropriate part of the churchyard to make Church Road wider. The borough surveyor had to make the necessary arrangements for the removal and re-internment of human remains in Hove Cemetery plus the removal and re-erection of monuments. This delicate task meant that Hove Commissioners were obliged to borrow two sums of money - £2,580 and £670 – to undertake the work. Obviously, in those days people were much more sensitive about the disturbance of human remains in consecrated ground.

However, no such sensibilities seem to have troubled the authorities in more recent times. Three other parts of the once extensive graveyard belonging to St Andrew’s Old Church have been destroyed to make way for a school, school playing fields, church hall, and Tesco’s car park. In all three cases it was considered far too expensive to dis-inter the burials, and in consequence they remain in situ, but what became of the many beautiful, and indeed historic, monuments is not known.

Removal of The Bunion

copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
The Brighton Brewery was built in 1852 and became an unfortunate obstruction in the development of Church Road – locals called it ‘The Bunion’ 

It was in 1880 that residents first started to petition for the removal of the large obstruction in Church Road, known as The Bunion, and it was signed by 235 people. The Bunion was in fact a brewery building jutting out from the top of Osborne Villas that was built in 1852. It was not the fault of the authorities that the matter dragged on for years but due to the unhelpful owner, R. C. Weekes, who simply ignored all letters on the subject.

The authorities became so frustrated that they considered taking action under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts so that they could acquire a portion of the property in order to widen Church Road. But before any action was taken, Tamplin’s took over the brewery in 1900. Hove Council then had to negotiate with Tamplin’s but that was not plain sailing either. Tamplin’s had paid a large sum for the property, and rather hoped they could recoup some of the money from council coffers. Tamplin’s had expended £40,000 on acquiring the property, which might seem excessively expensive, but also included twelve tied houses. But of course Hove Council did not wish to pay £16,000 for the whole brewery site because they only needed a portion for their purposes.

The issue was not resolved until 1902 when Tamplin’s at last managed to find a buyer, and Hove Council offered £4,150 for the portion they required.

Hove Council was not out of the woods yet because it transpired that the land was not freehold, but held under the old copyhold system. This meant a legal process had to be gone through to enfranchise the land. The final cost to Hove Council was £5,000 plus £110 as their contribution to the cost of enfranchisement.

The brewery was finally sold on 21 August 1902, and demolition soon followed.

Vallance Estate

The making-up of Church Road was made more complicated because it ran through land belonging to three different estates. In the east it was the Goldsmid Estate, the middle part was in the hands of the Stanford Estate trustees, while the west part belonged to the Vallance Estate.

In 1899 Hove Council was in negotiations with the trustees of the Vallance Estate plus Messrs Parsons & Sons who owned land on the south side of Church Road in order that the road might be widened as far as Sackville Road, around 65-ft.

It was a disheartening negotiation process because in 1901 it was reported that Parsons & Sons were demanding too high a price, while in 1902 officials were told there was no prospect of an agreement with the Vallance Estate.

It was felt that steps would have to be taken to make an independent authority decide the thorny issue of compensation. By September 1902 an agreement with the Vallance Estate was at last in sight, to whom the council would pay £1,200. As for Parsons & Sons, Hove Council would exchange the remainder of the town depot in Church Road for a similar use of land in the same road The new depot was sited further south of the one previously in use, while Parsons’ new workshops were sited west of the old ones.

Part of the deal was the demolition of Gas Cottage that stood opposite the churchyard, and had apparently been the scene of more than one serious accident.

The Barn

copyright © J.Middleton
There seems nothing exceptional about this barn, but it could once have been the place where a religious community lived

In 1891 the old barn, sometimes mistakenly called a tithe barn, was the subject of a report by the sanitary inspector. He stated that the barn was being used as a stable for six horses, but it was neither drained nor paved, and there was no manure pit. Hove Commissioners served notice that the portion of the barn being used as stables must be properly paved and drained.

From the foregoing it would seem the barn was of substantial size, and it occupied a site between Church Road and Hove Street. It is a great shame that more notice was not taken of it before the barn was demolished in the 1900s, due to road widening at Church Road. It seems likely that it had a more interesting history than was likely for an ordinary rural barn.

The evidence for this lies in a book written in 1880 entitled A Peep into the Past by J. G. Bishop in which he states that there were ‘the remains of some once beautiful tracery’ inside the barn. Such tracery would have been unheard of in an ordinary barn. The building must have had another use. It is instructive to note that Charles Thomas-Stanford cited a source from the 13th century that mentioned ‘the Canons of Huue (sic)’ and the tithes due to them and the Bishop of Chichester. A canon was a member of a community of clergymen who served the cathedral or church.

Support for the theory of a religious community once occupying this building lies in the twelve pillars with ornate capitals that are still to be seen today inside St Andrew’s Old Church. The usual rural church might have two or even four pillars, but sometimes there were none at all. However, a twelve-pillared edifice would form an ideal space for a community of clergymen to perform their offices of worship. The church was also conveniently close to the ‘barn’.

There is also the fact that in 1219 Richard Poore, Bishop of Chichester, established the Prebendary of Hova Villa et Hova Ecclesia, which in 1353 was divided into two. The point is why was Hove singled out as having a church when many villages also had churches? It must mean that Hove church (St Andrew’s Old Church) ranked as an important foundation.

Old Names

copyright © J.Middleton
This handsome terrace next to Hove Library was known originally as Lewer’s Terrace after Harvey Lewer – the man responsible for building it. The photograph was taken at 8.15 a.m. on 1 June 2019 – it had to be early one summer morning in order to capture sunlight on north-facing facades

Harvey Lewer built a grandiose terrace of houses on the south side of Church Road (west from where Hove Library is today). It was known as Lewer’s Terrace. Previously on the site opposite Connaught Road there was a group of fine old trees. It seems people were as keen to keep their trees as they are today. Therefore in 1897 a petition was sent to the authorities signed by 30 residents pleading for the trees to be saved from destruction.

St Andrew’s Terrace was the name of houses situated between Seafield Road and St Aubyns. It was a logical name seeing as the old church was just opposite. These houses were also built by Harvey Lewer.

Oxford Terrace was situated in the north side of the road, between Ventnor Villas and Hova Villas

In 1892 a piece of land was acquired in Church Road at a cost of £620 from William Richard Sutton. It had the unusual name of Pinker’s Forecourt.

Providence Place and Cornelius House

copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
These two houses in the right foreground
 were all that remained of Providence Place, 
and were demolished in around 1961
In the 1861 map Providence Place was shown as a row of houses south of where Church Road is today and opposite the Gas House. The road to the east was taken up by the southern portion of the churchyard. These houses were built in the late 1840s. According to the 1851 census there were nine households in Providence Place including the family at number 1 headed by Samuel Strong, a 52-year old brick-maker who employed 65 labourers, while 27-year old Samuel Strong, brick-maker, occupied number 5. By 1875 the land south and east of Providence Place was covered by the Cliftonville Nurseries dotted with many greenhouses and trees.

In 1899 the name Providence Place was changed to Connaught Place – this was to avoid confusion with Providence Place, Brighton. By 1916 there were just two houses left next to Hove Library, and they were numbered in Church Road, the name Connaught Place having been dropped. Re-numbering was not necessary because apparently there were vacant numbers between number 176 and Hove Library at numbers 182-186. Hove Council purchased the site and the two houses were demolished in around 1961. The site remained vacant for many years because it was ear-marked as a possible extension to Hove Library. But there was never enough money to make use of the site. During the twenty years that Hove Library fell under the jurisdiction of East Sussex County Library, the site was sold off and the money disappeared into their coffers for good – the price has never been disclosed. Then the site was used as a parking space for the large mobile library van.

copyright © J.Middleton
Cornelius House was built on the site once occupied by Providence Place and the space that was intended to hold an extension of Hove Library

In 1995 a new building arose on the site called Cornelius House. It was designed by the Hubbard Ford Partnership of Fourth Avenue, Hove. Although it was built of red brick, the design was at least sensitive to its neighbouring Hove Library, and there were round windows and a central raised feature to echo the library’s architectural details. In 1991 Bennett’s Insurance Company moved into Cornelius House, having been established in 1974 and become one of the leading motor insurance specialists.


Church Road was re-numbered in 1885 because the area was expanding and some early businesses were still numbered as being in Church Street, Cliftonville. Some examples are as follows:

Shaw’s Stores were located at 11 / 12 Church Street became 153 / 156 Church Road
Forfar’s was numbered at 27 Church Street became 123 Church Road
Evershed’s. watchmaker and jeweller, at 28 Church Street became 121 Church Road

It seems likely there was a later re-numbering too. In 1886 James Williamson, the celebrated film pioneer, moved his family to Hove where he purchased a chemist’s business at 144 Church Road. (Today the premises are numbered at 156 Church Road.) In 1898 Williamson moved to larger premises in Western Road, Hove.

In 1903 some re-numbering took place between Osborne Villas and number 154 – this was to take account of new premises erected on the site of the demolished brewery.

In 1905 Lewer’s Terrace was incorporated into Church Road, becoming numbers 188-216.

Pavements and Road Surfaces

In 1888 the surveyor recommended that the asphalt pavements should be dressed with tar and crushed shells, as had happened on previous occasions.

In 1892 the surveyor reported that some of the paving on the north side of the road was worn and uneven. Between Salisbury Road and Tisbury Road the pavement was laid with asphalt, and the surveyor recommended that it should be re-laid with the same material. Between Norton Road and George Street there was brick paving; the surveyor thought that artificial stone slabs should be laid, and a new granite kerb should replace the existing Purbeck stone kerb.

In 1895 artificial stone slabs were laid near St John’s Church at a cost of £132.

Also in 1895 there were complaints from residents about the macadamised carriage ways, and the surveyor thought the solution might lie with a different material; therefore he recommended, as an experiment, that creosoted deal blocks should be laid from the east side of Tisbury Road to the west side of Norton Road. The blocks would be laid upon a concrete foundation, and the estimated cost was put at £1,000. However, in May 1896 Messrs Mowlan & Co’s tender to undertake the work for £8,830 was accepted.

The experimental scheme must have been deemed a success because in 1900 it was decided to install creosoted deal blocks from Western Road to Osborne Villas at a cost of £8,830.

By 1904 there were proposals to continue the process from George Street to Sackville Road.

Street Lighting

copyright © J.Middleton
This postcard view dating from 1905 shows a typical gas lamp-standard

In February 1889 the surveyor stated that in Church Road, east of The Drive, the street lights were irregularly placed, varying in distance apart from 65-ft to 143-ft. It was decided that five new lamps should be installed at a cost of £38, and the existing ones re-arranged.

In January 1900 the surveyor reported that between Holland Road and Gas Cottage there were 56 lamps, including eight fitted with incandescent burners at the east end. It was decided that some lanterns and Welsbach number 4 (Kern) burners should be fitted, plus the addition of one lamp at a total cost of £150-2s.

Bus Grumbles

copyright © J.Middleton
Although this postcard illustrates a horse bus in operation, one cannot help but regret the loss of Waterhouse’s handsome Hove Town Hall

There were the usual grumbles about hackney carriages and buses. In 1891 the Commissioners were presented with a petition signed by fifteen residents stating that now the cab-stand had been partially taken up, it should not be re-instated. They claimed the number of cabs were injurious to business. However, the Commissioners decided to ignore the request. Instead, in 1892 they were discussing paving the two cab-stands and providing them with gullies and drains.

In 1893 a letter of complaint was sent to Hove Police from eight residents living in houses between George Street and Hova Villas. The letter called their attention to the increasing annoyance caused by the changing of the omnibus horses in front of their premises. The residents wanted the changeover to be made further west.

When motor buses arrived on the scene, they too caused problems. In 1905 a petition signed by 39 tradesmen were worried about ‘the great grievance and injury to our businesses by the continual, wilful, and excessive speed of motor-buses passing through Church Road’.

Shop and House Notes

Number 12 – Turnbull’s, a wine merchant’s, opened their business in these premises in 1877. Remarkably, in 1974 the business was still owned by a member of the same family. In 1973 there were plans to re-develop the building, and a generous offer was made to Turnbull’s, but in fact nothing happened. Turnbull’s carried on offering their unique service, which included items not likely to be found in other shops; for example, Turnbull’s stocked 24 varieties of malt whiskies plus 40 different rums. The original shop fascia was kept inside as a sentimental souvenir, and it advertised the startling claim ‘13,000 feet of duty-paid cellars’. However, there was growing competition from other off-licenses such as that belonging to Augustus Barnett close by.
copyright © J.Middleton
14 Church Road with the Margaret Bondfield 
Blue Plaque on the centre column of the shop.

In 1974 Tommy Atkins was then in his 50th year as a manager with the firm. He said that when he started out brandy was still sold straight from casks, and moreover the casks were still in the basement cellar. In those days too, the firm operated a twice-daily delivery service. Up until the late 1960s the firm was still doing its own bottling in the cellars.

Number 14 – In the 1880s Mrs White ran an up-market business on these premises where the girls who worked for her, embroidered and smocked plain garments obtained from a wholesaler, and turned them into items of beauty to grace a trousseau or layette. Much of the output was sent to British families in India. One such young girl was the redoubtable Margaret Bondfield (1873-1892) who remembered spending many hours by the window smocking frocks for babies. A blue plaque to commemorate her time in Hove was unveiled in 2019. (For more information please see Margaret Bondfield under Hove’s Plaques).
Number 20
copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
Number 20 was originally the office of a local Building Society
before briefly becoming an Army Recruiting Office in 1914
(Brighton Herald)

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
By 1915 the Army Recruiting Office had moved to 
76 Church Road opposite Hove Town Hall (Brighton Herald)

There was an Army Recruiting Office here in the First World War. One young recruit was George Parker, aged 15, who visited these premises on his half-day off from working in the Co-op, Blatchington Road. Inside number 20, he found a recruiting sergeant, an officer, and a medical officer. Actually, he was too young to enlist and when asked his age, he replied that he was eighteen. The sergeant had seen it all before, and enquired perceptively as to whether his mother knew he was that age. Nevertheless, Parker passed his medical, swore the oath of allegiance, and received the king’s shilling. He served for four years, and was fortunate to survive the war, although he returned to ‘Blighty’ aged 20 in 1918 aboard a hospital ship, having received injuries to his knee and hip. He had been involved in heavy fighting when there were so many casualties that he was promoted to sergeant on the battlefield. He was also the recipient of a Military Medal.

Number 30 – In the 1950s there was a branch of W. H. Smith here. There was a library in the shop, new books were sold on one side, while on the other side assistant Joan Sadler presided over the stall that sold newspapers and magazines.

In 2004 it was still a newsagent’s known as Taylors of Hove and owned by Sanjiv and Pinkal Patel. When the main Post Office in Hove closed, the Patels agreed to have three post office positions opened in their shop, but first there had to be a refit. It re-opened on 11 February 2005, but the Patels were disappointed at how few customers turned up.

Number 37 - In this house, whose original address was 3 Palmeira Terrace, the first all-female medical practice at Hove was set up while Queen Victoria was still on the throne. Dr Mabel Jones (c.1870-1923) qualified in 1893 and moved to Hove in 1898 together with her friend Dr Helen Boyle (1969-1957). They were also both involved in setting up a Dispensary in Brighton especially for women and children, as well as the institution that later came to be called the Lady Chichester Hospital. In around 1908 Dr Jones left Hove, spending the rest of her short life working in Glasgow. Her death was something of a mystery because she somehow fell out of train travelling south from Scotland. (Wojtczak, H. Notable Sussex Women 2008).

Number 40 – Thomas Banks was born in Brighton in 1859, and was already a florist by the age of 21 – it was he who later established a florist’s business on these premises, which remained a family enterprise for many years. But first of all, mention must be made of his wedding in 1882 to Annie Woolgar at St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to Hampstead where no less than six children were born. Unhappily, Margaret Ethel died in 1890, the same year in which she was born. By 1895 the Banks had moved back to Brighton, and three more children were added to the family.
copyright © H. Shipley
The family business was at 40 Church Road

In 1913 Thomas Banks purchased the lease of 40 Church Road, Hove, and he and his family moved in to live ‘over the shop’. The premises had previously been occupied by South of England Dairies. Banks advertised that he sold ‘bouquets, wreaths and crosses’ and young Eva was happy to help out her father in the shop. It is interesting to note that over the years the premises came to house various relatives and descendants. Indeed, it seems that Eva had no intention of leaving home, even after she had married Arthur Thomas Hurley in 1920, and their daughter Josephine was born at number 40 in July 1921. Young Josie must have inherited her mother’s love of flowers because when she grew up she was happy to work in the shop too. Annie Banks died at home in 1929, and Thomas Banks died in 1936, leaving the lease jointly to son Charles Arthur Banks, and daughter Eva Hurley (nee Banks)

Meanwhile, in the basement another Banks business enterprise was flourishing. It was run by Alfred and Edward Banks, nephews of Thomas Banks; the brothers being known in the family as Alf and Ted, and they had both served in the Army during the First World War, in which their cousin Robert Frank Banks died at Ypres. Alf and Ted created ‘Real Photo’ postcards. These postcards were marked A. & E. Banks, and they also produced a ‘Hova Series’. The brothers were at number 40 from around 1923, but in around 1933 they moved part of the business to 4 Blatchington Road. Ted and his wife Ada lived in a flat upstairs in the 1920s.

copyright © H. Shipley
  An image of St Ann's Well Gardens is a sample of the postcards produced by Alf and Ted Banks in the basement of number 40

Charles Alfred Banks was the third child born to Thomas and Annie Banks. Charles married Mabel Brigden and there were three children. It was a tragedy when Mabel died just four weeks after her baby Horace was born in July 1914, leaving Mabel who had just had her third birthday, and 18-months old Doris. They had been living near Southampton but when his wife died, Charles returned to Hove. Charles then tried to enlist in the Army but he was not accepted. The unfortunate children were split between relatives. Baby Horace fared the best because he was informally adopted by a local family with three daughters, and they all loved him to bits. But the two little girls were unhappy, especially when their father disappeared off the scene after he managed to join the Royal Field Artillery. 

copyright © H. Shipley
An image of Hove's seafront is a sample of the postcards produced by Alf and Ted Banks in the basement of number 40 Church Road

When Mabel grew up she married Cyril John Clifford, and after serving in the Army during the Second World War, they continued to live at 40 Church Road, where three of their children were born; the last child Helen being born in 1952 at Southlands Hospital. Since their grandfather, and both parents were busy working in the shop, the children were expected to pull their weight too, and were given simple tasks to do such as dusting, polishing, and sweeping the flat upstairs. On one occasion they were in the lounge, which overlooked Church Road, and where normally they were not allowed to enter without a grown-up present. When they tried to leave the lounge, they found themselves trapped because the inside handle had fallen off. The children stamped their feet and shouted but nobody heard them Then they opened the window and dropped down some dusters, and when nobody noticed, a dustpan soon followed. Still, nothing happened, until a broom landed on the pavement with a crash, and then they were soon rescued. The children expected a good telling-off, and indeed one irate customer complained that he could have been hit on the head. However, common sense prevailed, and the grown-ups admitted that the fixings had come loose, and it was not the children’s fault the handle fell off, and instead there was mild praise for their ingenuity.

Charles Albert Banks died in 1950, and the Cliffords continued to run the business. Unhappily, the business was struggling by 1952, and they moved out of the building in 1953, although the new tenants continued to use the familiar name of ‘Banks’ by agreement. (Information kindly supplied by H. Shipley)

Number 42 – Graves & Son had their office in this building in the 1930s. The first mention of the firm in the Directories was in 1899 when A. F. Graves occupied 20A Western Road, Brighton. By 1931 they were at 42 Church Road, Hove, and 117 North Street, Brighton. Graves & Son were auctioneers, estate agents and surveyors.

The men running the firm were A. F. Graves, P. Kingsley Graves, and C. D. Pilcher. Later on, Mr Pilcher were taken into partnership, and Graves, Son & Pilcher soon became a familiar name.

Number 46 – In Edwardian times, Nailard, fruiterer and grocer, occupied the premises. Customers would write their requisites in a rexine covered notebook, and the items would be delivered to their homes. One such book has been preserved and is to be found in The Keep.

Number 48 – Also in Edwardian times, these premises were occupied by Stenning & Walker, butcher’s and graziers. It was obviously a high-class establishment since they advertised themselves as purveyors to HRH the Prince of Wales. In 1906 customers would write their orders down in one of the shop’s special leather-bound notebooks, an example of which is to be found today in The Keep.

It is interesting to note that number 48 continues to operate as a butcher’s to the present day. In 1985 Paul Canham and his father took over the premises, and Frank Canham also worked in the business.

When the shop was being refurbished, the original decorated tiles were uncovered, and these have been left in place to give the shop an authentic traditional look.

Before Christmas in 2000 Canham’s introduced a new system for dealing with their large amount of festive orders. One of its walls was covered by pieces of paper itemising the requirements and names of some 600 customers, arranged in alphabetical order. It proved to be remarkably efficient. Even so, the shop was so popular that the queue on collecting day stretched round the corner to Grand Avenue.

For Christmas 2019 Canham’s was just as busy as ever still using their unique system of orders recorded on pieces of paper and stuck to the wall. Even on the morning of December 23, there was a queue of patient customers standing on the pavement outside Canham’s – quite a nostalgic sight. Paul Canham, wearing a red apron with white stripes, commented ‘It’s been like this for the last 35 years.’ His customers obviously relish the idea of their Christmas turkey being reared in the traditional way on a local farm, and no less than 500 free-range Kelly bronze turkeys pass through Canham’s, costing from £45 upwards. The busy turnover means that there are twelve staff members on hand. As well as turkeys, Mr Canham normally receives several orders for ribs of beef at Christmas too, and there are also lamb cutlets and black pudding sausages on sale. (Argus 17 December 2019)

Number 49 – Frederick William Lanchester (1868-1946) – He was born in Lewisham, the second son of Henry James Lanchester, an architect. His mother Octavia was unusual for her time, being an educated woman, and moreover she taught Latin and mathematics at a school in London.; thus when her sons began to study Euclid she was able to help them. Octavia’s father was a coach-builder, while Henry’s father was the owner and captain of a merchant vessel. Henry and Octavia produced a large family of five sons and three daughters. The eldest son followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming an architect, Frederick William and his youngest brother George became engineers, inventors and designers, Mary became an artist and writer while Edith came into the national spotlight as a noted feminist.

copyright © National Portrait Gallery
Frederick William Lanchester (1868-1946)
F. W. Lanchester’s earliest memories were of moving at the age of five years to their new house in Hove at 1 St John’s Terrace – later re-numbered to 49 Church Road. In those days, open countryside was near at hand, and behind the house stretched land farmed by William Marsh Rigden. The Lanchester children discovered a hole in the flint wall, and thought nothing of roaming by themselves all over the fields. There were also magnificent views to the sea on the south side of the house since that part of Hove had not yet been built up. The sunny day nursery was situated on the first floor, and the children enjoyed watching the ships sailing by. One never-to-be-forgotten day the children were awestruck at the sight of Brunel’s masterpiece the Great Eastern going on its stately way. Just to verify that they had not been dreaming, they carefully noted the paddle-boxes, five funnels and six masts. They probably never knew that the great Brunel had once attended a school at Hove, not too far away from their house. Gradually, their views seawards were eroded by the construction of new houses until the only glimpse of the sea was down First Avenue.

Frederick William attended Miss Osborne’s Kindergarten in Cliftonville, and later went to a school in Brighton. When he was aged fourteen, he was sent to the Hartley Institution in Southampton, reputed to be the best place in the south for a scientific training. Meanwhile, his father Henry was earning a good living by designing some of the new houses being built at Hove. This continued until the 1880s when there was a slump, and in 1886 the Lanchester family moved back to London.

In 1889 F. W. Lanchester became assistant works manager and designer to the Forward Gas Energy Company in Birmingham, and within three years he was the works manager. He was responsible for the production of gas engines of between 2- and 60-horse-power, and he made many improvements. At that early stage of the industry, Lanchester designed a direct-coupled high-speed internal combustion engine and dynamo to light the offices and part of the works – one of the first of this type of equipment. In 1895 he formed a private company to develop motor vehicles. In 1896 he was responsible for an innovation known as a ‘splined shaft’ and in 1897, for an efficient design of roller-bearing, having rollers of diameter equal to length. He introduced the principle of direct drive-on-top, worm rear-axle transmission, electric (coil) ignition, and the cantilever spring. Sir Henry Ricardo (1885-1974) penned the following summary of Lanchester’s achievements. ‘He evolved a car whose performance differed as much from that of contemporary horseless carriages as does a Rolls-Royce from an agricultural tractor today, and which contained essential features to be found in modern cars such as a perfectly balanced and almost silent engine, a noiseless rear axle, direct through drive to top gear, combined with springing and sensitive and self-correcting steering’.

In 1899 he formed the Lanchester Motor Company where he continued as consulting engineer until 1914. The Lanchester car was the first English car run by a petrol engine. He was one of the pioneers of the petrol omnibus, and the petrol-electric rail-coach. At the same time as he was designing cars, he was also busy developing mechanical piano-players with the Orchestrelle Company, but this activity was brought to a halt by the First World War By the 1920s he had turned to the manufacture of high-class radio equipment, then much in demand.

Since the 1890s Lanchester had studied the theory of flight, and his ideas were ahead of his time. In 1895 he delivered his Vortex Theory of flight for the first time in a lecture, which he later expanded upon in his book and scientific papers. However, the theory was neither properly understood nor accepted until the 1920s when Prandtl’s more comprehensive studies became available. It is pleasant to record that his Vortex Theory did secure him the gold medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Guggenheim Medal in the United States of America. Lanchester died on 8 March 1946 at Oxford Road, Birmingham. [Kingsford, P. W. F. W. Lanchester: Life of an Engineer (1960)]

F. W. Lanchester’s doughty sister, Hove-born Edith Lanchester (1871-1966), is worthy of note but in an entirely different field. When the family moved to London, Edith was able to study zoology and botany at Birkbeck College, and she must have been a diligent student because she carried off the Apothecaries’ Company prize. Like her mother before her, she too became a teacher, and then she decided to branch out into being a secretary. It is fascinating to note that she was hired to type up Karl Marx’s notes. She was by no means a woman of convention, and in her twenties she was a vegetarian socialist who never went to church, and was passionate about women’s rights. But she was feminine enough to fall in love with James Sullivan.

All would have been sweetness and light in the Lanchester family, if the couple had got married. But Edith refused to tie the knot because a married woman had few rights. She therefore announced to her astounded family that she and James would live together without a gold ring on her finger. Her father was so enraged that he took immediate action by having poor Edith certified as mad under the Lunacy Act of 1890, and carted off to an asylum – the theory being that co-habitation was akin to ‘social suicide’. But spirited Edith did no go without a struggle, breaking a window in the carriage during her struggle, while her brothers tied her hands with rope. Fortunately, James Sullivan was not going to tolerate such an outrage, contacting newspapers, and consulting his MP. Soon there were headlines about ‘The Lanchester Abduction Case’. Edith was rescued from her incarceration after just four days because the Commissioners of Lunacy had declared her sane but foolish. Unhappily, her relationship with her father was broken for good, and he disowned her. But her mother must have felt some sympathy for her daughter because she left her £400 in her will; unhappily, Edith invested the money unwisely, and lost the lot.

However, it is deeply ironic that when the passion between Edith and James wore off, and irritation raised its head, they found that the bonds of history were stronger than ordinary matrimonial ties might have been. This was because their valiant stand against the institution of marriage was still highly regarded within their social circle, and so they had to stay together. But it did come at an enormous cost – the estrangement from Edith’s father and the brothers who tied her hands, not to mention the stigma on their two children, Elsa and Waldo, whose school-mates wanted to know why their parents had different surnames. It is somewhat astonishing that in 1927 when Elsa married fellow-actor Charles Laughton (1899-1962) her parents were delighted.

But Edith never lost her commitment to social change, and women’s rights, and eventually became a communist with a high regard for Russia. Family life was difficult because Edith sought to impose her vegetarian life-style on her family who longed for a taste of meat or fish. This was allowed very occasionally, and because the family finances were so strained that with regard to meat only a bit of pig’s head was affordable. Then Edith would snort ‘I hope you enjoy eating a corpse.’ Elsa was reduced to buying a pot of Bovril or some Oxo cubes with her pocket money, cutting the cube into tiny pieces to make it last longer.

Edith and James became well-versed in avoiding the law, which led to them frequently changing their lodgings to get away from official scrutiny. Thus Elsa did not go to school at the age she should have done, and neither did she receive the mandatory vaccination for diphtheria. The couple knew all their rights with regard to bailiffs, and even foiled the official census – the latter was achieved by Edith, Elsa and Waldo camping out in the countryside on census night so that James could sign the legal declaration that he was alone on the premises.

There is a final twist in the relationship between Elsa and Edith because Elsa had to fight for her own independence from her mother, whom she described as ‘nosey’ and who once read a private letter to Elsa from a boyfriend. Thus Elsa felt she had to leave home and lead life as she wanted to, while her mother wanted to know everything that went on. There was no tender relationship between the two; although when Elsa became rich and famous she was able to provide generous financial support for her parents, it was a filial duty. She liked her father, whom she felt she never really knew, but she confessed she did not even like her mother. Meanwhile, Edith and her relatives were proud of Elsa’s career and assiduously collected the appropriate newspaper cuttings. Cousin Blanche was scathing about Elsa not spending more time with her mother in her declining years but by then Elsa was an American citizen and well-settled on the other side of the Atlantic. Elsa did visit England for work now and then and visited her mother who was living at Highcroft Villas, Brighton; Elsa was always pleased to be in Brighton again, feeling nostalgic about the place because they had enjoyed family holidays there. Elsa’s last visit was in 1964 and Edith died in 1966 without seeing her daughter for the last time, as she had wished.

Elsa Lanchester (1902-1986) was a lady of many talents. She started off with dancing, and went to Paris aged ten to study with Isadora Duncan, which seemed to consist mostly of floating around with chiffon rather than learning formal technique. Later on she was an impresario, establishing a children’s theatre, and later putting on, and taking part, in late night shows. But her later fame rested on her acting ability, although she was talented enough to perform a Danse Arabe for Sadler’s Well Ballet Company as well as singing in her role as Ariel in The Tempest. However, she will be forever remembered as the Bride in The Bride of Frankenstein although she portrayed Mary Shelley as well as the Bride. When the Bride encountered Frankenstein, she let out such loud screams that poor Elsa lost her voice for days afterwards and had to resort to pain-killers. In later years, if someone brought up the subject of Frankenstein, Elsa found it something of a conversation-stopper. Of course, it was good to be remembered but still ...

Elsa also appeared in many films with her husband Charles Laughton; for instance as Anne of Cleves when he was the king in The Private Life of Henry VIII, and in the marvellous Witness for the Prosecution where she played a nurse who fusses over the eminent barrister (Laughton). The latter was based on a book by Agatha Christie, and it is a tribute to the actors that Christie approved of the film. The younger generation will remember Elsa as Katie Nanna in the early part of Mary Poppins (1964). [Lanchester, E. Elsa Lanchester Herself (1983]

Number 54 – Belgravia Dairy Company – In the 1890s the chief depot of the Belgravia Diary Company was at this address. In 1898 the company made their annual outing in glorious weather to the New Inn, Hurstpierpoint, when the senior staff were as follows:

H. Marks, managing director of the South of England Dairies
Mr Robinson, managing director of Belgravia Dairy Company
W. B. Spikins, chief local manager
W. M. Tebbs, manager
F. Harold, manager
F. M. Cox, accountant

In 1899 the Belgravia Dairy Company had premises at the following locations:

7A Victoria Terrace, Hove
34 Western Road, Hove
6 / 7 Edward Street, Brighton
100 Trafalgar Street, Brighton

By 1912 the company had premises at the following outlets:

91 Church Road, Hove
175 Church Road, Hove
1 Lorna Road, Hove
101 Western Road, Hove
Tongdean Farm

The Belgravia Dairy Company remained at 54 Church Road until 1903 when the firm of Jenner & Dell took over the premises.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
(Brighton Herald 07 December 1912)

Number 54A – Ernest Watts was the founder of of this Hove musical instrument firm. By 1931 the business was described as a pianoforte warehouse and Watts was running it with his son. Ernest Watts died on 22 March 1942.

Numbers 56 & 70 - Combridge’s - In around 1902 Mr S. Combridge took over number 56. It was already an established bookshop and lending library and also undertook printing and binding – D. B. Friend & Co. being the previous occupants. The shop was so modern that it enjoyed the benefits of electricity before Mr Combridge arrived on the scene. He had a half-brother, Mr C. Combridge, who opened a bookshop in Birmingham and became a large supplier of books to public libraries. In 1906 Mr S. Combridge’s tender to supply books to Hove Library at 30 per cent off published prices was accepted. 

copyright © J.Middleton
Combridge’s can be seen on the left at number 56
Meanwhile, the Hove Combridge’s continued to run its own circulating library, which was situated in a room at the back of the shop. An old photograph shows the room lined with books stretching from floor to ceiling. Later on there was competition in the shape of Boots’ Book-lovers Library further along Church Road. But both flourished, partly it must be admitted because of a certain snobbery because you had to pay to borrow books whereas the Free Library was for the masses.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
(Brighton Herald 5 December 1908)

Combridge’s also ran a jigsaw library for a number of years. These of course were the sturdy ones made of wood, and stood up to years of wear. When a piece went missing, the jigsaw was not discarded; instead an assistant had to work out exactly which piece was missing, and the manufacturer would do their best to supply a replacement piece. The jigsaws were stored in neat wooden boxes. One enthusiastic customer of this service was Henry D. Roberts, the first curator of the Royal Pavilion, plus his wife and daughters.

Combridge’s also created its own jigsaw puzzles to amuse its customers. For example, a large and colourful poster used to advertise a visiting circus was sent off to be made into a puzzle. Combridge’s had a very good reason for such an enterprise because they also acted as ticket agents for various events staged at Hove. One of these was a talk given by the celebrated Grey Owl at Hove Town Hall in January 1936. Grey Owl was seen striding along Church Road clad in full Native American attire. Ken Lane, who later became manager of Combridge’s Second-hand and Antiquarian Booksop at number 56, was a youngster at the time and was suitably awestruck by the impressive Grey Owl, who shook his hand, and signed his autograph book. Grey Owl was an early conservationist before the word was coined – only he was not a Native American, but plain old Archie Belanay (1888-1938) from Hastings.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
An advert from the Brighton Herald 14 November 1914, showing Mr C.F. Cook of Combridges as the editor of 
'The Book of Sussex Verse'

Like many shops of the time, Combridges was staffed entirely by men.
copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
An article in the Brighton Herald 16 March 1918, showing
Combridge's was a contact point for donations to the 
local RSPCA 

This all changed in the First World War when so many men flocked to the colours that Mr Combridge was obliged to employ his first female assistant. In 1916 a lady assistant would work from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every week-day with a half holiday on Saturday afternoon for the princely sum of five shillings a week. After six months of satisfactory employment, she might expect to find her wages elevated to 7/6d a week.

In 1916 Mr S. Combridge took over the lease of number 70, previously occupied by china merchant J. Haines. This was so he could sell second-hand and antiquarian books. When Mr Combridge died in 1922, Mr C. F. Cook took over the running of the business with the backing of a member of the Sassoon family. Mr Cook employed a Miss Ashdown as a housekeeper, and she occupied rooms at the top of number 70. Miss Ashdown spoke with a strong Sussex accent. She cooked hot lunches for the male staff in the basement of number 70, and even up to the 1950s she still provided tea and biscuits for all the staff in the same place.
copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
(Brighton Season Magazine 1923-24)

Combridge’s also took to publishing books of Sussex interest, which were beautifully produced on good quality paper. The printing and binding was not done on the premises but was sent to Hove’s Shirley Press. One of the first books produced in 1906 was Notes on Sussex Churches by Frederick Harrison – this sold well, and was re-printed. Perhaps Combridge’s most popular book was The Story of Shoreham by Henry Cheal published in 1921.

Mr Cook had a tender spot for poetry, being something of a poet himself. He had already edited a book of Sussex verse, which Combridge’s had published in 1914. More books of poetry appeared, such as Kettle-Songs by H. Lulham, a friend of his, and Cook also edited a further book of Sussex verse in 1928. Some of Combridge’s books were illustrated by well-known artists such as Louis Ginnett.

copyright © J.Middleton
This postcard dates from 1905 before Combridge’s Second-hand and Antiquarian bookshop occupied number 70 on the left

An amusing anecdote about the vagaries of the book-selling trade can be gauged from the adventures of a book published in 1933 entitled Monumental Effigies of Sussex. The first printing sold so well that the book was re-printed but unfortunately it hung fire. In two years between 1941 and 1943, just eight copies were sold. Thus a letter was sent to the copyright holder who lived in Hastings saying that Combridge’s would ‘be very glad to be relieved of the remaining 187 copies’. Consequently, the copies were despatched to Hastings. Some years later Combridge’s received a letter to the effect that in settling up their client’s estate, piles of Monumental Effigies had been discovered (still 187?) and would Combridge’s be interested? Indeed they would because in the meantime the subject had become more popular, the book had become very scarce, and second-hand copies were not to be found. Back they came to Hove, and every copy was sold.

Mr Cook still owned the business at the outbreak of the Second World War, although the day-to-day running of it was entrusted to three men – Charles Edward Phelps Lane, Thomas Goodman, and Clement Bridgland. Mr Lane was in charge of the fountain pens and the jigsaw library, Mr Bridgland was responsible for new books, while Mr Goodman ran the stationery section where Combridge’s Hove Vellum laid claim to being the best writing paper in the world.

Mr Goodman’s department also arranged for headed notepaper to be printed. This was done in the basement; regular customers had an individual metal stamp with their address, and these were stored in their own little boxes next to where the bicycles were kept. The process of die-stamping was time-consuming and tricky – it also used up quantities of waste paper because the die-head had to be wiped constantly. The lady printer declared that the best and most absorbent paper came from the pages of old family Bibles that were too badly damaged to merit re-binding. Many of these family Bibles had been carried into number 70 with great expectations – the owner thinking that because they were old, they must be valuable. Unfortunately, this was not so because in those days such old volumes were commonplace. Their true value to the family was if it contained genealogical details on the fly-leaf.

By 1939 the business was languishing, and it did not help when most private schools closed or were evacuated because of the threat of invasion. However, when HMS King Alfred opened its doors on Hove seafront, business was transformed. Suddenly there were all these young men clamouring for books on navigation whilst also buying stacks of protractors, compasses and pens. Indeed business became so buoyant that the accountant advised Mr Cook to turn it into a limited company, making the senior staff members directors, whilst Mr Cook remained as managing director. In order to bring this about Mr Lane, Mr Goodman and Mr Bridgland were obliged to invest £100 each in the company. Although this did not pose a problem for Mr Bridgland, whose wife Daisy owned property in East Grinstead, it raised serious problems for the other two. Mr Lane had worked at Combridge’s for many years on modest wages, and so there were no savings to speak of; eventually his precious stamp collection was sold – never to be mentioned within the family again – and the three men became directors.

Mr Bridgland, an austere-looking man behind his spectacles and piles of new books, was an unlikely football fan, but his great delight was to attend matches at the Goldstone Ground.

Mr Lane was a portly figure with a walrus moustache. When it was time for a break, he and his son Ken Lane from number 70, used to perambulate along the street, both smoking their pipes; Daisy Bridgland was Ken Lane’s god-mother.

The interior of number 70 was an impressive sight – the ceiling was high and the walls were lined with tier after tier of shelves. The topmost shelves could only be reached with the help of a long ladder of fourteen rungs. It became something of a skill to be able to manoeuvre this heavy wooden ladder around the shop. A young female assistant was reassured that she need not climb to the top of the ladder if the man who requested a book off the top shelf was thought to be of dubious character.

The shop specialised in volumes of Sussex interest, and occupied a whole north-facing section. There must have been around 400 to 500 such books at any one time, with more stored away in the loft. Bargains were to be had. For example, in 1955 you could purchase a set of Sussex Archaeological Collections dating from 1848 to 1952 for just £20. However, this must be set against the earnings of a female shop assistant who earned £3 for a five and a half day week. The same assistant would be pleased to sell a book for 10/- (now 50p) which was reckoned as a good price for a hardback book in good condition.

The Sussex books were but a fraction of the stock, which must have run into thousands of volumes. Besides the main room, there were more books to be found at the back of the shop reached by a few steps, while a fixed wooden ladder lead to a storeroom. Quite often, a collection of books was acquired for which there was no space on the shelves. This meant they were stacked up on every available surface, including the stairs, and when someone walked through the shop, they were accompanied by the swaying of various piles of books. There was a locked, glass-fronted section where rare volumes were kept, and included old books in beautifully tooled leather bindings, and first editions. Outside, in fine weather, there was always a rack of books selling for six pennies, while on shelves lining the doorway were slightly more desirable books selling for one shilling.

In the autumn of 1960 Combridge’s was taken over by the Reed Paper Group, who had also acquired Walter Gillett’s of Brighton. A manager from Gillett’s was despatched to run things. But working conditions became difficult, particularly because the management required a monthly stock-take instead of the customary annual one. Mr Lane, senior, decided it was time to retire, and at Christmas 1960 Ken Lane turned the key of number 70 for the last time, opening his own shop in Blatchington Road. In 1986 Sussex Stationers bought out Walter Gillett’s and this also included Combridge’s.

On 7 March 1992 Sutton’s Furnishings opened at number 56. By 2019 up-market Bang & Olufsen had been established here for some years. It is their only Sussex showroom, and people can view high-end TVs and audio equipment before deciding on a purchase.

Number 57 – In March 2001 this shop – previously occupied by a newsagent’s – was available with a guide premium of £25,000 by assignment of a 15-year lease at a current rent of £6,675 a year.

Number 59 – The Church of England Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Hostel was located here for four years during the First World War. In a single day as many as 200 men would visit, while as many as 50 would spend the night there too, although beds were not on offer. Miss Lee Huzzey came up with the idea for a hostel, and she was the first honorary secretary.

Number 69A – Sidney Louis and his wife ran Louis Fine Furs on the premises for almost 50 years. In February 1989 it was announced that the business was closing down, thus ending an era because it was one of the last shops in Brighton and Hove to sell furs. Customers were advised that the remaining stock of fox and mink had been reduced in price with the cheapest mink being on sale for £1,500.

Numbers 74 & 76 – Hove Council purchased these two buildings to use as offices because they had run out of space in Hove Town Hall. The purchase was completed by January 1928 with the cost of the land being £4,200, and the cost of the buildings came to £10,800. By 1931 these offices were occupied by the Town Clerk, the Borough Accountant, the Medical Officer of Health, the senior Sanitary Inspector plus two other inspectors, the Rating and Valuation Officer, and the Inspector of Weights and Measures.

copyright © J.Middleton
A view dating from 1910 looking east – note how the red brick of the Town Hall and the buildings opposite match each other

These offices only utilised the upper floors, with the ground floor being occupied by Lloyd’s Bank starting off in modest fashion at number 74. By the 1960s Lloyd’s Bank had expanded to take in number 76, and by the 1990s it was numbered from 74 to 78. In 1992 it celebrated its centenary by re-furbishing the premises. It also provided a new business centre, re-named the Hove Branch, instead of the Town Hall branch.

Numbers 74 & 78 - Gamley’s – In 1918 William Lord moved to Hove from Oxfordshire. He opened Gamley’s Toy Shop a year later and it became Hove’s longest-running toy shop. By 1962 Gamley’s only occupied number 78, and Lloyd’s Bank had taken over number 76. By 1968 Gamley’s had moved east along the road to numbers 66 & 68, formerly occupied by Harrington’s Car Showroom. William Lord died at the age of 95 in 1988.

Number 91 – In 1931 the Belgravia Dairy Company ran this shop. It had formerly been a butcher’s shop, and had been covered by hand-painted tiles, said to date from 1906. The tiles depicted chickens, cows and guinea fowls, and proved so attractive that successive occupants saw no reason to get rid of them. In June 1974 Michael Pearson re-discovered the tiles when he decided to turn his greengrocery business, which he had run for the previous five years, into a health food shop. Apparently, an American visitor was so impressed with the tiles that he offered to buy the three ‘walls’ on the spot. But his offer was refused. In 1985 Anthony and Gillian Spaven opened a restaurant called Jasper’s on the premises. He kept the old tiles covering the top third of the restaurant’s walls.

Number 92 – Barclays Bank used to be located here, and was known as the Town Hall Branch. It closed in 1993 and instead moved to newly-refurbished premises on the corner pf George Street, once part of the Army and Navy Stores. Barclays endeavoured to sell number 92 for retail purposes without success, and by 1996 had decided to concentrate on a food and drink outlet.

Number 93 – In 1904 Alfred W. Fisher founded the Hove Studio and Academy of Music at 22 Church Road, Hove, in premises above Lyon & Hall’s business with the entrance in Second Avenue. In 1906 an advertisement in the Hove Gazette promised ‘an all-round Musical Education by an Efficient Staff of Professors’. On the first Wednesday of every month there was a musical matinee performed by the professors and students. Evidently, the venture proved to be a success because in around 1911 Mr Fisher moved it to 93 Church Road where there was a large studio on the first floor. The tradition of concerts and recitals continued.
copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
(Brighton Herald 8 September 1917)

 It is interesting to note that on Saturdays the Seventh Day Adventists held their services in the studio in the days before they had their own chapel in Hove Place.

copyright © J.Middleton
This postcard was signed by Alfred W. Fisher, principal of Hove Studio and Academy of Music, and was posted 5 July 1906 to Miss Joseph of 33 Westbourne Villas 

In 1915 one of the staff had a famous surname – he was Harold Ketelby. Unhappily, it was not the Ketelby who wrote the well-known pieces In a Monastery Garden and Bells across the Meadow. However, the Academy does have one claim to fame, and that is Dame Clara Butt having once been a student there.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
(Brighton Herald 8 September 1917)

By 1925 it was known as the Hove School of Music and it celebrated its 25th anniversary in great style with a performance in Hove Town Hall.

copyright © J.Middleton
The Hove Studio and Academy of Music became the Hove School of Music and celebrated its 21st anniversary in style in 1925

Alfred W. Fisher was born in Folkestone but spent much of his life at Hove. He was a recital pianist, organist, composer, and conductor. He was organist at the Holland Road Baptist Church, then at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Hove, and finally at St Leonard’s Church, Aldrington, where he stayed for eleven years before retiring in 1923. He did not just play organs, he designed them too. Another string to his artistic bow was his talent as an artist, and although entirely self-taught, his skills were good enough to win prizes. The Brighton Herald commented, ‘the results are individual and amazingly varied’. In 1934 an exhibition of his watercolours and oil paintings was held in the Wolseley Room of Hove Library. It was the custom of Lady Wolseley to chose two items from such exhibitions and keep them for posterity – the two she chose of Fisher’s were paintings of Hangleton Manor.

Number 97 – Baker’s Art Gallery – In 1902 Samuel Baker, aged 21, founded Baker’s Art Gallery here, and continued to run it until he died in around 1974. It kept its old-fashioned air throughout the years with the original fittings, including a massive wooden showcase, still in place. Apparently, a party of Canadians visited the shop in the 1970s, and one of them said ‘Thank goodness something has not changed!’ – perhaps they remembered it from being stationed here in the Second World War. However, change was inevitable. After her husband’s death, Mrs Baker continued to run the business with the help of Arthur Vallens, who started at Baker’s aged fourteen, and never left, clocking up nearly 50 years. But Vallens died in 1978 and Mrs Baker decided the time had come to sell up, and in the same year sold the business to Jeffrey Hobson.

By the 1990s Elaine MacGregor had opened a business called Woodnuts in the premises. She also ran a cake-decorating school, and chefs from Buckingham Palace attended her courses. In addition, she produced books and videos on the art of cake decorating. She learned her craft in Australia, and used sugar paste to produce beautifully decorated cakes. Her Christmas cakes might have a tipsy robin on top of a chocolate log, or an Eskimo fishing through a hole in the ice outside his igloo, or Father Christmas asleep in his bed underneath a patchwork quilt.

Vicky Mann, manager, reported there was a strong scent of lavender in the basement on several occasions during the ten years she worked there. The basement area was also prone to a sudden drop in temperature. Unfortunately, Woodnuts went bankrupt in February 1994.

When the basement was being cleared out a month later, two enormous folio-sized account books were discovered dating from the 1920s but with no indication as to who owned them – there were many dealings with London firms, and even as far away as Edinburgh. They were passed on to the Record Office.

Number 99 – In September 1997 Stoneham News, a traditional newsagent’s and confectioner, was on sale for £99,500 through the London office of Christie & Co. It was stated the business generated takings of £10,493 a week, and produced a gross profit of around £95,000 a year. The weekly news bill came to around £3,300. However, tempting the offer might have seemed to be in February 1998 Stoneham News called in the receivers and closed down. By 2019 Peter Kyle, M. P. for Hove & Portslade, and elected in 2015, had established his constituency offices here.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Herald 02 November 1901

Numbers 100, 102 & 104 – Hunter’s Alderney Dairy had been founded way back in 1822, and was a feature of this part of Church Road for very many years. By 1900 Hunter’s was being run by the South of England Dairies, and were supplied by local farms at Hangleton, Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint and Portslade. It was known that HRH the Duchess of Fife patronised the establishment. Customers wrote down their requirements in a leather-bound notebook, and the goods would be delivered to the door. One such notebook survives to this day at The Keep. There was another branch at 51 Western Road, Hove.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
(Brighton Herald 9 September 1886)

Later on the premises were taken over by Holes & Davigdor Dairies in the days when a horse and cart was still a familiar sight. The establishment eventually became Cullens, then Cottingham’s run by Paul Cottingham. Unfortunately, the frontage surroundings were painted an unflattering shade of crimson, and this included the rather charming triangular feature above depicting farm animals. Cottingham’s closed down on 5 September 2008, and Mr Cottingham said one reason was the opening of Cullen’s around 100 yards away in April 2008.

The next venture was called Four Seasons. There was a lovely display of seasonal fruit and vegetables outside the shop. This not only attracted customers because in May 2018 a swarm of bees descended on two large water-melons. There was only one solution – to send for Robert Nemeth who not only happens to be a local councillor but is also a professional bee-keeper. He removed the bees to more suitable surroundings. Unhappily, in 2019 this large shop is empty.

Number 105 – Parris & Greening – The first person to run a chemist’s shop in these premises was Edwin Bennet Viser. In 1882 a licence costing 5/- allowed Viser ‘to utter, vend or expose to sale any medicines or Medicinal Preparations or Compositions chargeable with Stamp Duty’ - in those days you needed a licence to sell methylated spirits. In 1884 the business was acquired by Thomas Watkins Parris, and he continued to run it by himself until 1894, when he took into partnership Benjamin Charles Greening.

copyright © J.Middleton
Parris & Greening is on a corner site, and has been dispensing medicines for well over one hundred years

By 1895 the business was also known as the West Brighton Dispensary.

During the 1970s the premises were still delightfully old-fashioned with the original mahogany wall fittings still in place filled with bottles, some of plain glass, and others of blue or green glass if the mixture needed protection from the light, or for poisons. At the top of the wall unit over the first counter were the intertwined initials EBV, which stood for the first proprietor Edwin Bennet Viser.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
(Brighton Herald 1 April 1911)

Carboys, both large and small, were also on display. Upstairs there was a laboratory with the same dark wood shelves, various bottles, and a small zinc basin. Downstairs, the old prescription books were kept, dating from 1919 with every private prescription recorded. The books were tall and slim with red leather spines.

copyright © J.Middleton
The old mahogany fitment was still in place in 1977 
when this drawing was made

Robert Peel worked as a qualified chemist in the premises from 1927 to 1977, becoming something of a local institution in the process. When he first started out on his career, he earned £4 a week, and the shop hours were an astonishing 8.30 a.m. to 11p.m. In those days Mr Peel made all the tablets, potions and creams himself, utilising five different sizes of pestle and mortar. The pills were a work of art being cut into small pieces, rounded into shape with the aid of a little French chalk, and the final touch was a very fine coating of gold or silver leaf. In those days Parris & Greening stocked such ingredients as aloes, cinnamon, ginger, rose petals, orris and eucalyptus.

Parrishe’s Food was a favourite medicine for anaemic-looking children, and Mr Peel was used to mixing this up to dispense to anxious mothers. It certainly contained iron, but the deep red tint was just colouring. All the same the remedy had to be imbibed through a glass straw to prevent turning the teeth black

Mr Peel liked to tell the story of when he was working at Cranbourne Street, London, and he would make up a special mixture containing honey, glycerine and lemon to ease the throat of the famous singer Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931).

Parris and Greening’s had customers outside Hove’s boundaries too. One such was Sir Eric Geddes who lived at Albourne Place near Hassocks. He was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1917 to 1918, and Minister of Transport from 1919 to 1921. Whenever he suffered from a bad attack of gout, Sir Eric would order five gallons of witch-hazel from Parris & Greening. He found immersing his feet in it soothing, and a nurse assisted the treatment with the aid of a stirrup pump.

Another customer at a later date was Gilbert Harding (1907-1960), the irascible star of TV’s What’s My Line? He suffered from asthma and lived in Montpelier Villas. On one occasion he phoned Mr Peel, and announced ‘Come over at once, I think I’m dying.’ Mr Peel hurried to the house, but found on arrival that he was trying to inhale oxygen from an empty cylinder. Mr Peel changed the cylinder for a full one, and told his patient that the indicator was pointing at zero, to which Harding replied, ‘I never could understand anything mechanical.’

In 2019, it is amazing to report that the premises remain a chemist’s, or a pharmacy as it is called these days. The building must hold some sort of record for continuous same usage.

Number 106 - Heather’s – Charlie Heather opened a greengrocer’s shop here in the 1930s. Derrick Sharp purchased the business in the 1960s. A delicatessen counter was introduced in the 1970s, and proved very popular. People liked coming to the shop because they could purchase a slice or two of cold meats, or a single carrot, and feel quite comfortable about it. By the 1990s it was stated that Derrick Sharp had been running the business for 30 years. In November 1991 Heather won a commendation in the Hove shop-front initiative, a scheme to encourage the look of traditional shop-fronts. A photograph taken in 1934 showed the frontage looking much the same as it did in 1991. Actually, they could not get rid of the window because it was part and parcel of a Grade II listed building. Sue Taylor worked at Heather’s, off and on, over a period of some 40 years. She said that some people found Mr Sharp to be somewhat dour, but she remembered him as having a dry sense of humour, often chuckling, and he loved puffing on his pipe. She also recalled celebrities amongst her customers including Wendy Richards and Edna Dore from Eastenders, TV presenters Zoe Ball and Neil Buchanan, and actors Nick Berry, Chris Ellison, and Bill ‘Compo’ Owen. Mr Sharp died in November 2001, and a year later his widow Margaret and their family decided it was time to sell up.

Number 107 – The main Hove Post Office was established in this building for many years. In August 1991 it re-opened after a refurbishment costing £130,000, which included a wheelchair ramp and improved security. The announcement in 1995 that it was to close and move across the road brought a storm of protest. After initial reservations, Hove Council gave their approval. The Post Office then moved to number 120 on the south side, occupying premises vacated by a building society. The new Post Office opened on 5 March 1995.This Post Office closed in May 2004, the sad reason being that Postmistress Margaret Hodgson resigned after nine years at the helm because she could no longer afford the rent. Post Office counters were then installed at 30 Church Road.

Number 117 - Burkitt’s – Edward English moved from Reading, and opened a tobacconist’s shop in these premises in 1873 – soon after the building had been completed. In 1921 his nephew Edwin Burkitt took over the running of the shop, and at one time the family had five retail outfits as well as dealing in the wholesale trade. Burkitt’s daughter, Mrs Joan Shelton, grew up in the business when the trade was good, and her grandson Guy also entered the trade, although she was not sure it was a good idea with present day difficulties.

copyright © J.Middleton
This drawing concentrates on the wonderfully
 ornate facades of numbers 111-117 Church Road
Mrs Shelton has vivid memories of when she was a small child and her father used to sit her up on the counter while he served customers. During the 1930s royalty patronised the shop, although of course they did not come in person, but the butlers to Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales used to come in to collect the required cigarettes and cigars. There was a poignant memory of 1940, at the time of the Dunkirk evacuation, when a soldier came into the shop. He had just been rescued from the Dunkirk beaches by a fishing boat, and was soaking wet, besides having lost his army boots, and all he wanted was to have a puff on a cigarette.

By the 1980s the family had just the two shops – the one in Hove, and the other in Horsham run by her son. Mrs Shelton’s husband died in the 1980s, but in 1998 the Hove business was still in the hands of the same family – in fact, the man in charge was David Shelton, aged 54, the great-great nephew of the founder. Mr Shelton stated that trade was bad due to tobacco smuggling. For example, in Belgium you could purchase 50 grammes of tobacco for £1-80p whereas in his shop the same quantity would set you back by £7-80p. He reckoned smuggling was losing him as much as £20,000 a year. The interior of the Hove shop has been kept virtually unaltered, but there was a new pane of glass in the front window and a new glass counter. On 26 June 1993 it was reported that somebody had stolen the old Swan change dish that had stood on the counter for at least 50 years.

copyright © J.Middleton
Taken in July 2019 this photograph shows Burkitt’s with its blue canopy

In January 2009 the Sheltons were still running the business – David Shelton was now aged 64 while his mother was 88. But then they are a long-lived family. Mrs Shelton’s father Edwin Burkitt died on the very same day that he retired at the age of 96, and her mother lived to the grand age of 99. Mrs Shelton said there were no family members to take on the business – her nephew had tried it for four or five years but he did not think there was a future in it.

The old wooden shelves were still in place but the cigarettes were not on view. However, there was a magnificent array of jars containing loose tobacco with enticing names such as the following:

Cherry Brandy
Coffee Caramel
Exclusive Black Cherry
Mixed Vanilla
Sunday Fantasy

There was also a wonderful array of different sorts of pipes. In addition, the shop sold wooden walking sticks, and since nobody is the same, the base of the stick would be cut to correspond with a person’s height.

This business was taken over from the Sheltons in around 2013 and is still trading in 2019 under the name of Havana House.

Number 118 – The business of R. J. Fryer, house furnishers, was established here for many years.

In September 1994 Reg Hester, popularly known as Reg the Vac, trading in the premises as the Sussex Vacuum Cleaner Centre, was furious about Hove councillors taking him to court because he had failed to obtain planning permission before putting up an enormous sign. He claimed he did not know he needed permission for such a sign, but in 1993 an independent government inspector ruled that Hove Council was correct in opposing it. However, Reg the Vac was unimpressed, and above the offending sign he had the following message painted on to his window: Residents of Hove are you aware how your local Tory controlled council treats local businesses? On the 28 of this month (September) we are being dragged to court for cleaning up and sign writing on the upper fascia of this establishment, We are liable yo pay the total of a £2,000 fine and £200 a day if they are not removed by the 28th. We need your support.

Reg finally moved his business to Hangleton.

Number 118 then became Browser’s Antique Shop. But that failed, and the shop was empty for months.

Then in February 1999 Alldays opened a store, and there was some speculation as to whether the business would thrive seeing as there was and outlet for Cullen’s only around 100 metres away.

Number 121 – In the early days this shop was numbered at 28 Church Street, Cliftonville. Then for over one hundred years there was a watchmaker, clockmaker or jewellery shop here. In 1862 Bate & Co, a watchmaker and clockmaker occupied the premises. In 1873 Mr A, Evershed took over, and Evershed’s remained in business until 1970.

On 1 November 1899 Mr Evershed wrote a letter to Hove Council seeking permission to use the Hove coat-of-arms on some silver souvenir teaspoons he proposed to make; it was granted. In 1908 Evershed’s presented a 22-in dial clock for the News Room in the newly-opened Hove Library.

In the 1950s Evershed’s preserved its old-fashioned air, and youngsters accompanying parents inside found it rather dark and mysterious. There were two magnificent and large armchairs in front of the counter for the convenience of customers. They were made of dark wood and had pretty mother-of-pearl inlays.

Number 124 – This building used to house the South Eastern Electricity Board’s showroom (Seeboard). This is where Hove people went when they wished to look at new cookers and fridges before they placed an order. It closed down on 1 July 1998. The closure, together with the shutting of Curry’s in George Street, meant that it was impossible for people to buy such essential domestic items in Hove town centre.
copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum.
An advert from the 1914 Brighton Season
at the outbreak of the Great War, 
hence the xenophobic text:-
 'Only English Assistants Employed'

Number 126 - Stanlee’s – In 1953 Stanley Block established Stanlee Travel and Leisure Goods in these premises. In April 2003 they were celebrating their 50th anniversary. Stanley’s son Russell was born in the flat above the shop, and spent more than 20 years working in the business. There is an amusing story concerning the very first customer to walk into their shop who carefully inspected practically every item on show before purchasing a white, daisy-chain necklace for half-a-crown. Usually, of course, items are far more expensive because it was a rather an up-market emporium. For instance, they were the main distributor for Samsonite in the Brighton and Hove area, and there was an amazing display of quality goods such as handbags and gloves made from the finest Italian leather.

The great difference between the 1950s and recent times was the introduction of wheels. For example, in 1953 it did not matter whether or not luggage was heavy because only the wealthy went abroad for their holidays – for most people travelling by train was the norm and there would always be a porter at the railway station to help. Nowadays, almost every piece of luggage has wheels plus a pull-up handle.

Number 128 – In August 1955 work began on reconstructing these premises occupied by the Trustee Savings Bank. While this was going on, the manager Miss E. M. Trill, carried on business as usual in a wooden hut and garage at the side of the building in Osborne Villas. On 16 January 1956 the refurbished premises opened. Customers could admire a splendid mural painted by Mrs Dorothy Kirlew, the artist wife of R. G. Kirlew, actuary of the South East Trustee Savings Bank. The mural depicted Hove Museum, Hove Library, Brunswick Terrace, West Blatchington windmill, the bandstand, and the gatehouse to St Ann’s Well Gardens.

Numbers 134-140 Cobley’s – George Cobley came to Hove at the age of fourteen and was educated at Hove College. In the 1920s when he was just nineteen he opened a gentleman’s outfitters in a small shop at 138 Church Road – there was no room to swing the proverbial cat because the establishment was a mere 11-ft wide. His brother Frank Cobley joined him in the enterprise. Cobley’s, in a similar way to Combridge’s, flourished during the Second World War supplying uniforms to the thousands of men attending HMS King Alfred. Presumably, these uniforms were for the cadet ratings, because if and when they became officers, there were accredited Naval tailors on hand.

During the war George Cobley held an ATC commission for five years. In 1947 at the age of 44 he became a magistrate, and he went on to serve as a J. P. for 26 Years. In 1950 he became chairman of Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce and Trade.

By 1958 the Cobley brothers had expanded their business to cover four shops, and eventually they had ten shops in Sussex and Kent employing over 100 staff members. In the 1960s they launched a successful boutique in Western Road, Brighton, called Gog.

In 1979 Cobley’s merged with Fairdale Textiles; George Cobley became managing director, his brother Frank was personnel director, while his son Gary became financial director. There were fifteen directors, - two-thirds of them family members. There were branches in Brighton, Tonbridge, Horsham, Tunbridge Wells, Worthing, and Winchester, employing 130 staff members. In 1981 the firm was taken over by Moss Bros. In January 1994 George Cobley died at the age of ninety.

Numbers 141-151 – In 1920 Mr R. A. (Jimmy) Driscoll purchased a small draper’s shop belonging to a Mr Smith. By 1931 Driscoll’s Draper and Milliner (Hove’s House of Value) occupied numbers 149 to 151. Apparently, Jimmy Driscoll started his business career by selling oranges in Australia and ended it by becoming chairman of Driscoll’s. Jimmy’s son Leo then ran the Hove shop, assisted by his brother Desmond until 1952. In 1954 the business was sold to Scots-born J. Stuart Golfer, and from December 1954 the shop was known as Stuart Norris – combining the names of his wife and himself, and the premises numbered from 141 to 151. Leo Driscoll stayed on under the new management for a while. Stuart Norris was still a draper’s but they also sold fashionable clothes, house furnishings, televisions and electrical goods.

In July 1957 the Hide Group acquired Stuart Norris, and the name was changed to Chiesman’s. Behind Chiesman’s was the House of Fraser whose famous flagship was Harrods. Later on the name of the Hove premises was changed to the Army and Navy Stores. After Shaw’s Stores closed in 1964, the business was able to expand and occupy premises on the corner of George Street.

In September 1987 there were rumours in the financial press that the wealthy Fayed Brothers, owners of the House of Fraser, wanted to dispose of the smaller stores in the Army & Navy chain. The smaller stores were identified as those with less than 50,000 square feet of floor space. The Hove Army and Navy Stores only spanned some 29,000 square feet. It closed its doors in June 1990 with the loss of 70 jobs.

In July 1990 it seemed likely that burger chain McDonald’s would use half of the site, with the rest being converted into smaller units. However, there was opposition from some Hove councillors, while a petition against the scheme was signed by 2,600 people. Although McDonald’s did receive planning permission, they then changed their minds. In 1991 Barclays Bank put in an application for part of the site, and initially it was turned down. In 2019 Barclays is still in business there, and has moved far away from the old-style service counters – it is mostly self-service machines now.

Number 148 - Mulholland’s – This shop on the corner of Seafield Road was once known as 1 St Andrew’s Terrace, and two deeds survive concerning the early days. The first one was dated 1 April 1877 and the following men were named:

Harvey Lewer of Hove, builder (first part)
Thomas Hill and Arthur James Fitzhugh (second part)
Frederick Tooth and John Tooth (third part)

The Tooths were timber merchants, and also owned some land in Hove.

On 23 February 1878 Harvey Lewer sold the property for £1,400 to William Fraser of Brighton, and John Dudney, the younger, of Portslade, co-partners in wine and beer merchants Fraser & Dudney. The property was bounded on the south side by a passageway.

By the 1970s Robert Mulholland ran an off-licence here. In 1976 Watney’s wanted to take over the premises in order to increase the floor-space of their next-door pub the Seafield. There were nineteen letters of objection plus a petition with 1,000 signatures against such a move – the planning committee rejected the proposals. However, the idea was not dropped, and in 1978 a further application was submitted; when this too was turned down by the planning officers, Watney’s lodged an appeal with the Secretary of State in 1979. Again, nothing happened and Mulholland’s continued trading.

In 1998 there was an item in the local newspaper about the difficulties of running such a business in the present climate. Since the off-licence is in a conservation area Bob and Ann Mulholland are not permitted to install a protective grill to shield the shop windows. This was annoying especially considering the fact that the shop had suffered three break-ins during the past three years. Fifteen months previously a burglar caused some £2,000 worth of damage, while on the 12 November someone smashed the reinforced glass in a side window using a piece of broken gravestone from the churchyard opposite. But Mulholland’s soldiers on and is still in operation in 2019, which is quite remarkable seeing as there is a massive Tesco’s outlet on the opposite side of the road.

Numbers 153-155 -Shaw’s Stores – When Daniel Shaw set up a grocer’s shop on the south-east corner of George Street in 1862 his establishment was numbered at 11/12 Church Street, Cliftonville, and the population of Hove registered a mere 9,000 people. One of the first things Daniel Shaw did was to keep a record of all transactions in the shop. He made his own day-book, utilising a handy piece of blue-coloured cardboard advertising Field’s Night Lights, folding it in half, and then sewing lined ledger-paper into the cover. He recorded the daily trade in his neat copper-plate writing. His busiest times were high summer – not as it happens because of an influx of visitors, but due to itinerant workers arriving to earn money at harvesting or sheep-shearing. The beautiful brass scales and scoop once used in the shop became family heirlooms. 

copyright © Norman Shaw
 This photograph dates back to around 1870 and shows Daniel Shaw, Butterman and Cheesemonger, outside his premises on the corner of George Street
It was a tradition in the Shaw family that a son of each generation should be given the Christian name of Daniel – thus Daniel’s son was Alfred Daniel, his grandson was Norman Daniel, and his great-grandson was Edmund Daniel, and all four Daniels were involved in the running of the Hove shop. The Shaws lived above the shop and had a live-in maid to help their mother Annie with the chores. Both of A. D. Shaw’s sons were also born above the shop. Norman Daniel remembered that the shopkeepers were a real little community, and you knew all of them operating in George Street, and the nearby part of Church Road. As a child he would watch the lamp-lighter doing his rounds to light the gas-lamps in the street, and he remembered the three street musicians playing their brass instruments on the corner. Unfortunately, his mother would not allow him to visit the cinema in George Street for fear of infection. In those days ballroom dancing was considered a social accomplishment and so young Norman Daniel was despatched to dancing lessons with Miss Gladys Toye at Ventnor Villas where the famous Ida Lupino was once also a pupil. Miss Toye later became part of the Shaw family by marrying Norman’s brother, Herbert.

copyright © Norman Shaw
Shaw’s Stores was so successful that it expanded both into George Street and along Church Road as this 1936 photograph shows 

In 1923 Norman Daniel joined his father in business, which soon expanded northwards into George Street, taking over a former greengrocer’s and then the umbrella mender’s and hairdressing shop next to it. In 1933 Norman Daniel married Margaret Shemeld, and all the staff were treated to a memorable outing to celebrate the event. In 1934 a new type of shop window was installed, the first in the area. It was known as known as invisible glass, and was curved in such a way that a customer looking through the window would not be aware of the glass at all. During the Second World War, all the windows were fitted with shutters, which could be drawn across when the air-raid siren went off. But life was difficult because of all the shortages. Norman Daniel collected cartoons on the subject, and one was very relevant since it showed a manager saying to his assistant, ‘Remember … to casual customers ‘No’, to regular customers ‘Sorry, no’, and to special regulars ‘Terribly sorry, no’.

Norman Daniel Shaw had been managing director of Shaw’s Stores since 1937 when his father died, and in 1957 his elder son Edmund Daniel joined him in the business. In 1962 Shaw’s Stores celebrated its centenary – the same year in which the Queen and Prince Philip walked down George Street watched by huge crowds. In 1964 Norman Shaw retired and Shaw’s Stores closed its doors for the last time. Many customers felt that it was indeed the end of an era. But Mr Shaw enjoyed his retirement because he could pursue his love of music, his family always having been keen appreciators of music, and indeed his son David Norman Shaw won an organ scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford. Norman Shaw had a long and happy relationship with the Brighton & Hove Operatic Society, and from 1973 was president of the Sussex branch of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society. In 1965 Norman Shaw’s mother celebrated her 100th birthday. Norman Shaw did not quite make his centenary, dying at the age of 98 in 2004.

Number 156 – This shop has an important place in local history because the famous film pioneer James Williamson (1855-1933) once ran a chemist’s shop in the premises, only in his day the building was numbered 144 Church Road. He sold one guinea cameras to aspiring photographers, as well as doing the developing, printing, enlarging, retouching and mounting on site. 

copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
When James Williamson ran this chemist’s shop, it was numbered at 144, but now it is 156
In May 1996 Frank Gray, curator of the South East Film and Video Archive, unveiled a special ‘Cinema 100’ plaque attached to the building, which read as follows: 1896-1898 site of the first Film Studio and Laboratory created by James Williamson.
 copyright © J.Middleton
The plaque at 156 Church Road

In August 1993 the shop was extensively refurbished; the business having been taken over three years previously from Leonard Thompson who had run an optical practice there for over 35 years. By 2000 it was Leighton’s Eye Care Centre.

Number 157- Broadley’s – This shop is situated on the south-west corner of George Street, and for many years was a gentlemen’s outfitters, as well as a tailor’s in its earlier years. James Edwards established the business in the 1890s, and in 1923 it was purchased by G. H. Broadley. Another part of the deal was an outfitter’s shop at 39 Station Road, Portslade. But the name of ‘Edwards’ continued to be used for a while because it was well known locally. The firm of Broadley’s was established in East Grinstead in 1875.

The Portslade outlet was sold off in the late 1980s, but it was business as usual at the Hove shop – indeed it was the oldest established men’s outfitter’s in the town. By the 1990s the facade had been altered so that the entrance was in George Street. The glass was costly and specially tinted, and thus as a precaution against enthusiastic revellers on New Year’s Eve 1999, the shop was boarded up.

In September 2000 there came the shock news that Christopher Broadley was closing the Hove shop although the one at East Grinstead would continue. Mr Broadley said he was taking early retirement at the age of 42 because he had already suffered a heart attack and thought he should heed the warning. The shop closed at the end of March 2001.

Number 160 – William Balchin & Sons were in business as florists and seeds-men. They had extensive nurseries in the Upper Drive, a large shop, 160-162 on the corner of St Aubyns, and another one in Western Road, Brighton. 

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
(Brighton Herald 27 March 1915)

Apparently, Balchin was in the habit of sending gifts of flowers to the George Street Schools (St Andrew’s School). The gesture was much appreciated by the staff and pupils, besides being a great help in their nature studies. In December 1909 the school manager sent a letter of thanks to Balchin’s.

copyright © R. Jeeves
William Balchin & Co had colourful displays in their shop windows

For many years, the building firm of Cook’s occupied the premises. It is ironic that in recent times flowers were once more on display in the shop, only this time they were not fresh flowers but artificial ones made of silk with some dried specimens as well. The shop was called Home and Dried, and won awards for its colourful window displays.

Number 167 – On the west side of this building stood the unromantically named Gas House where the manager of the gasworks lived in some style. On this site a two-storey building was erected in 1860 to provide offices for the engineer and general manager. The building had five arched windows on the first floor and there were iron railings at the front. Outside hung four large gas-lamps with 32 mantles in each lamp. In 1932 the building was demolished and a classically-designed Gas Showroom was erected on the site. Today of course the huge Tesco’s has obliterated all signs of the old Gasworks, the Gas House, the Gas Showrooms, besides a large slice of the churchyard belonging to St Andrew’s Old Church.

Number 170 – This building was once home to Emery’s, a printing firm, which produced the Hove Echo, (and later the Hove Gazette). Elmutt Clifton and his brother ran the business in the two communicating shops – Elmutt was responsible for the printing side while brother ran the newsagent’s shop. The printing works were situated on the ground floor while the compositing departments were in the upper floors. This was in the days of the old hot-letter press when the art of setting individual letters to make a page for printing was a highly skilled art.

Young Arthur Henry Collins started work there in 1899, his mother having told the manager she was sure Arthur would be a fine ‘comp’ because he was good at playing the piano. She was right and he became so skilled at his work, he was known as a ‘whip’ in the trade; in other words he could produce twice as much work when compared to a standard worker, as laid down by the trade unions. After six months he could produce 2,100 to 2,200 lines a week, At first Mr Dyer, the foreman, was delighted at his prowess, but then began to worry he would be earning too much money because payment was calculated as to how many lines were produced. Thus Mr Dyer set him to do other tasks (unpaid) but Arthur still managed to keep up his fast rate.

In later years Arthur was able to match the speed of a printing machine – that is he could produce six lines a minute. Arthur worked with two journeymen in a top-floor room with marvellous views over the churchyard to the Downs. Arthur made one good friend at work, and he was the foreman’s son. Every workday between early April and late September, the two would go straight from work to have a swim in the sea.

On 9 July 1913 a fire broke out at Emery’s and some books from Hove Library sent there to be rebound, were destroyed. By this time Emery’s was producing the Hove Gazette.

copyright © R. Jeeves
There was a fire at Emery’s on 9 July 1913

Street Directories for 1931 and 1962 show that the Eagle Press occupied the building.

In January 1997 estate agents Mishon MacKay were celebrating their tenth anniversary. Glenn Mishon started out on his career at Haywards Heath where he took over the running of his father’s estate agency when he had to retire through ill-health. Then Glenn met his business partner Alex MacKay and they decided to set up on their own. They began in 1987 and business thrived until the recession arrived in mid-1989. Mishon avoided bankruptcy by the skin of his teeth, and as a souvenir of those tough times he keeps a framed cutting of his quote from August 1988 that there would never be a slump. In 1996 Mishon MacKay expanded their premises in Church Road; in 1998 there was another office at Hurstpierpoint, and a new office in Preston Road, Brighton. Within the space of three years they had sold three £1million properties in Brighton and Hove. There was another branch in Station Road, Portslade; this was closed in 2009 during the recession, but re-opened in 2011 when times were better, and is still in operation in 2019.

Number 176 – In 1996 the Down Under Club was opened in the basement of the premises. It was described as a stylish members’ sports bar with huge TV screens on which to watch major sporting events.

That enterprise did not last long, and in December 1997 the Pussycats Club opened there instead. It was an immediate success, and a mere twelve months later owner Gary Lewis was thinking he might expand the concept to other towns. But because there were lap-dancers, there was some opposition, particularly from church members. In April 1999 Gary Lewis said his dancers were enraged when at a licensing meeting a police officer stated the lap-dancing club offered ‘extra-curricular activities’. He later received an apology from the police. Mr Lewis employed 40 dancers and during the dancing they strip down to a G-string, but customers have to be at least three feet away. In 2000 Mr Lewis applied for a new public entertainment licence. A petition in favour of granting extended hours was sent to the council, and it was signed by 1,437 people. There was a suggestion that noise insulation ought to be increased. The new licence was granted and Pussycats closed at 1 a.m. from Monday to Saturday, instead of 11 p.m. In 2007 permission was given for full nudity, and some dancers promptly left.

Numbers 176-178 – Parsons & Sons – The famous Hove building firm was located at these premises, although in the 1880s they were further east at 118 Church Road, between Albany Villas and Medina Villas. But the venerable firm went back further in time than that, claiming to have been established in 1835, and therefore Hove’s oldest building firm. Their first documented work was in 1877 when they made some alterations to the old Town Hall in Brunswick Street West, and even in 1962 were described as ‘the household name in Hove’. Their work for the Hove Commissioners and later for Hove Council was always the result of competitive tendering. There must have been hardly a street in Hove that did not receive some attention from the firm of Parsons, either through draining and sewerage, urinals, walls and fencing, paving and house alterations, or the building of houses and flats. In the Brighton & Hove Herald in 1958, their advertisement stated ‘The lovely villas, which Hove has comfortably spaced along the stretch of the Downs, the strong, continuous wall, which stands against the sea, the roads you drive along, the miles of pipes beneath your feet, the offices of commerce, the works of industry, all these essential parts of Hove have taken the energies and the enterprise of our firm for more than one hundred and twenty years.’

The following list is a selection of some of the works carried out by Parsons & Sons:

Portslade Gas Works
Shelving at Hove Library
Moveable stage, Hove Town Hall
Sea wall and esplanade extension
Stables in Conway Street
Iron fencing, south side Hove Park
Storm-water outfall groyne
Shelter Hall, Western Lawns
Underground lavatory at Goldstone Villas
Main drainage work for Aldrington
Additions to Williamson’s film studio
Foredown Water Tower
Commemorative tablet at Stoneham Recreation Ground
Alterations to Electricity Generating Station, Davigdor Road
St Philip’s Rectory
Conversion of Methodist Church, Old Shoreham Road, Hove

in around 1968 the firm moved to 191 Havelock Place, Brighton.

Number 177 – An old postcard records the existence of the Sackville Refreshment and Dining Rooms on these premises. Hot dinners and teas were served from midday to 2 p.m. and breakfast and teas were provided. 

copyright © R. Jeeves
The Sackville Refreshment & Dining Rooms were at number 177
An unusual attribute was that there was also good accommodation for cyclists. This was at a time when cycling was hugely popular, and cars were comparatively rare. On 15 April 1914 a traffic census was taken between 6 a.m. and midnight along a small stretch of New Church Road between Westbourne Villas and Carlisle Road. Top of the list were bicycles with 1,719 machines being counted, and next came 715 horse-drawn vehicles.

Number 181 – There was a chemist’s shop here for many years. In 1931 H. J. W. Inkpen ran the business, and right until the 1960s it was still Inkpen’s Pharmacy. Then John Colwill took over the shop and it was known as J. & V. Colwill’s Pharmacy. In June 1998 it was stated that Mr Colwill had been running the business for 29 Years. But now he was most concerned at the effect the scrapping of price-fixing would have on small chemists. It could well prove the last straw for some, and there was also the issue that the amount of funding pharmacists were receiving overall, had halved over the last fifteen years. After Mr Colwill’s retirement, the shop continued as a pharmacy for some years before the business moved to Blatchington Road.

Number 183 – For around 50 years this shop was a hairdressing salon. It was originally known a Paul’s of Hove, and latterly as Alexander Hair Design.

Number 198-200 – This was the site for Hove’s oldest shoe shop. William Wheatland & Sons laid claim to having occupied the premises for over 100 years. They used to make shoes and boots to order. In 1931 the shop was at number 198 only, and next door at number 200 was the Hove Cafe. The shoe shop was eventually taken over by Norvic, and closed down in June 1975, along with other branches of Norvic following a takeover.

Numbers 199-201 – Barclays Bank occupied these premises for many years. In September 1967 it was stated that this branch of Barclay’s had installed one of the world’s first robot cashiers. This device enabled customers to withdraw ten £1 notes, day or night, by inserting a special card. It was only the third bank worldwide to install such a machine, the first one being in Enfield, and the second at Luton. In January 1993 the premises were up for sale, and offers of around £325,000 were being invited.

There is an amusing story in connection with the building in 2004, by which time the bank vault had been converted into the Church Road Studios. In November of that year Andy Taylor and Andrew Pidgeon of the retro band The Dials were enjoying a jamming session there when someone pushed the door shut, despite the large notice on it ‘Do Not Shut This Door’. This meant that the two men were stuck inside the bank vault for two hours because the staff were unable to open the door, although they bent two crowbars in the process. The Fire Brigade was summoned and eight fire-fighters rushed to the rescue. The door in question was 1-ft thick, made of steel and weighed a ton. While the fire-men got to work the musicians played on, one track being Light My Fire by The Doors. The fire-men used fans to cool down the door and make it shrink fractionally, then they attached a hydraulic winch to the door opposite the vault door, and slowly made the mighty door open.

Number 212

copyright © J.Middleton
Charles Ham’s shop at number 122. There is an intriguing message on the back of the postcard, ‘Dear Arnold, I have some bad news for you my mum says I am having a babie (sic) and I am 3 months gone now my dad says he will do you in if you don’t send the money soon. Hope to find you well love Olive.’ Although there is an address, there is no stamp – perhaps it was placed in an envelope for privacy

Charlie Ham ran an ironmonger’s business here. The interior of the shop was festooned in merchandise. However, it was difficult for customers to ascertain the price of individual items because canny Charlie priced them all in his own code. This meant that he charged according to the perceived wealth of his customer – for example, a well-dressed lady was charged more than a working-class man would be expected to pay.

He also kept a substantial chicken-run at the back of the premises, in case a customer should need to purchase a boiling fowl.

There are separate pages for the following:


Brighton & Hove City Libraries
Brighton & Hove Herald (Diamond Jubilee edition 1958)
Brighton Season Magazine
Census Returns
Hove Council Minute Books
Internet searches
Middleton, J. A History of Hove (1979)
Middleton, J. Bygones, booklet
Middleton, J. Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Middleton, J. Hove and Portslade Through Time (2009)
Middleton, J. Hove in Old Photographs (1996)
Middleton, J. Portslade and Hove Memories (2004)
H. Shipley
Parker, G. The Tale of a Boy Soldier. QueenSpark Book 40
Personal interviews
Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove
Street Directories
Thomas-Stanford, C. Wick: A Contribution to the History of Hove (1923)

The Keep

HOW 42/14-15 – Order and Account Books 1893-1907 for Forfar’s, Stenning & Walker, and Hunter’s, all of Hove

Copyright © J.Middleton 2019
page layout by D. Sharp.