George Street, Hove

A wealth of shops

By Martin Nimmo

George Street Hove has always been the realm of small shops, despite Tesco (half-way up from Church Road) and the old Army and Navy (Chiesman's, Stuart Norris, Driscolls in former existences!) on the Church Road corner. Church Road was thought rather snooty, and Blatchington Road, with Woolworth's (and one of Sainsbury's first supermarkets), a bit business-like.

Last minute Christmas shopping
As a teenager, I used to do all my last-minute Christmas shopping here; somehow I could find all the necessary bits and pieces in the one street. When younger still, I bought spare solutions and powders for my chemistry set, and jokes to supplement my "David Nixon" magic outfit, at Barnards.

Great charity shops
When grown up, and sometimes a little short of money, I visited the charity shops; the Oxfam shop had the reputation of giving some of the richest pickings in the South! The Wimpy bar (is it still there?) on the west side was built in the old fire station (you could still see the Hove coat of arms on the building).

Omnibuses stop here
Outside the school there was once a paving stone with "Omnibuses Stop Here" set in it; I last saw that stone in 1968 at the then Museum of British Transport in Clapham. I suspect it was removed when the whole street was re-paved and redecorated for the Queen to re-open it in 1963. And did you know that in 1914, for a few months, a trolleybus was operated down George Street on behalf of Hove Corporation?

Text sent to website by e-mail on 21-01-2003
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
The best toyshop was Lesters: all your joke soaps, stinkbombs, chemicals at pocket money prices. They were THE stockist for spare wheels for your Jacko skates. Anyone remember 'The Ballerina' coffee bar? Our gang claimed it as our own and it was the place we congregated every evening. The owners gave us a room out back with a football table and a jukebox which kept us out of trouble. 'The girl of my best friend', 'Apache', 'Let there be drums'...I can hear them now...
By Vic Stevens (29/02/2004)
I remember the omnibus slab very well, but actually in place. Very distinctive brass letters. As a kid going to George Street School, and never seeing such a vehicle ever go down George Street, well - a question mark has remained. I can relate much more as I went to the school from 1948 to 1954. I knew every shop on the street. If I can answer questions, please go ahead and ask!
By Richard White (02/05/2004)
I went to school at St. Andrews when it was situated in George Street and lived just a stone's throw away in the next street. I used to love going home for lunch and cutting through the large department store (then called Stuart Norris, I think) into Ventnor Villas rather than walking all down and round.
By T J Gaspar (13/05/2004)
Re the coment made by Richard White: are you the same Richard that used to live at 9 Livingstone Road? I used to live at Number 7.
By Sally Mills (nee Thornett) (23/01/2005)
I came across your page whilst putting in a search for Stuart Norris, Chiesman's and Army & Navy. I was about to add myself to workplaces on Friends Reunited only to find none of those were listed! I started work there from school when it was Stuart Norris, then Chiesman's and finally Army & Navy. I am hoping F/R will now add these since I have submitted them to them.
By Julie Gainz (27/08/2005)
Like Vic (first comment) I frequented the Ballerina in the early Sixties. It was the only Coffee Bar with a Jerry Lee Lewis record when the charts were filled by Bobbies. Jacko skates from Lesters of course, and my first guitar from Wickham Kimber & Oakley a few doors away. One early band of mine rehearsed in the hall, or room, next to the chip shop, opposite. Tuition by Harry Mundell, a terrific guitar teacher in Ellen Street, nearby.
By Geoff Matthews (13/05/2006)
In the early 1950s my wife worked in Kent's Biscuit shop in George Street. Prior to our marriage she lived in Livingstone Road.
By David King (25/05/2006)
My first job ever was in Stuart Norris on the dress fabrics. I worked all Saturday for a pound. I remember the Ballerina Cafe; we all used to come from Ventnor church on Sunday for a frothy coffee. Then I worked in Easifit, the shoe shop - I never got much wages, I had spent it all on shoes!
By Wendy Carpenter (27/05/2006)

I came of age visiting the "Ballerina" with my friends. I remember evenings spent talking over frothy espresso served in glass cups & saucers. Each booth had a juke box. The boys played football in the back room. One late November evening in 1963, I left the "Bal" to walk home to Goldstone Road, when I came upon a crowd of men who shouted to me that President Kennedy had just been shot. Never have forgotten that "where were you when" story. I live in the States now. Would love to hear from any ex-Ballerina friends. JackieCollins@hawaii.rr.com

By Jackie Collins (02/12/2006)

I just wanted to expand a little on my comment in the main text about a trolleybus! This was the first (and only) double-deck trolleybus constructed by the Cedes Stoll company of Stamford Hill, London. With an open-top body by Christopher Dodson Ltd, it was painted blue and cream and operated on a demonstartion line from Hove Station to Church Road, where there were arrangements for turning the "troller". It wasn't a bus with two collecting trolleys on the end of poles, but used what was described as an "over-running" system - the little four-wheeled troller ran on top of the wires and was connected to the bus by a long flexible cable!   Brighton had already tried out an open-topped double-deck Railless vehicle in London Road, between Rose Hill Terrace and St Peters Place (December and January 1913/4). That vehicle had had poles and used the under-running system like the trams.  Thus, even at the demonstration stage, the two rival boroughs used incompatible systems while testing for a possible through route along Western Road and Church Road!

The Hove trolleybus experiment was discontinued after September 1914, and after the Cedes company was declared an "alien enterprise" by the Government during the Great War, the vehicle was sold at auction to Keighley Corporation Tramways, where it operated until the early 1920s.

Brighton did not actually introduce trolleybuses until 1939, on the eve of the Second World War.

By Martin Nimmo (27/03/2007)

My mum used to shop in George Street at Christmas. She used to dash from one butchers to another to see who was offering the lowest prices. She always got a bargain and we had lovely Christmas dinners. She got me my first transistor by paying a few bob a week so that I could enjoy Radio Luxembourg.

By Sandie Waller (11/06/2007)

Lovely memories come flooding back reading all the contributions about George Street. Thank you all for the comments. I lived in Shirley Street and went to George Steet school in 1949-1955 and was sad to hear it had been demolished. I also recall my mother and I queuing outside the butchers near the top of the street on the right hand side, to buy our Christmas dinner. We would pray that the meat we could see in the window would still be there when we got to the front of the queue, always at bargain prices. I have added some more information about the school under 'Happy School Days'. I knew a family by the name of Stevens in Shirley Street, are you the same family Vic Stevens?

By Marion Balwin/ Upton (16/01/2008)

I bought most of my records from Wickham and Kimbers in the 60s, the first one being Wonderful Land. I didn't even have a record player but was hoping to get one that Christmas.

By Maggie Roberts nee Webster (17/01/2008)

Does anyone remeber the address [street number] of the Ballerina Cafe in George Street? What is on the site now?

By Colin Gower (06/04/2008)

Has George Street always been one way to traffic from North to South, I seem to remember it as running South to North?

By Colin Gower (06/04/2008)

I was just reading these comments as I am looking for information regarding the Easifit Shoe Shop in George Street in 1960-1967. My mother, June Jennings nee Skinner (now deceased), was the manageress during these years. If anyone knew her, could you please contact me. Thank you.  cindy@pgunn.com

By Cindy Gunn (18/06/2008)

hi there, I remember the owners Mr and Mrs Spike and their daughter Caroline, anyone else?

By micky (14/09/2008)

Hi, I frequented the 'Ballerina' around 57/58 and remember the Spikes, and Caroline, also Stan (an ex BHA footy player) who served us with the frothy coffee. Buddy Holly's 'That'll be the day' was big on the jukebox then, also 'Reet Petite'. Happy days. Anybody remember the 'Cottage' I think it was called, a coffee bar down a tiny side street opposite the bottom of Osbourne Villes?

By Gordon Coleman (23/11/2008)

In reply to Colin Gower, traffic has run north to south in George Street except when it was two way in the fifties. I went to George Street School when it celebrated it's centenary, but can't remember which year, might have been 55 or 58. The school had the date it was built on the front. I remember Mr Evans,(country dancing), Mr Jones, Miss Millington, Mr Newson and Mr Gardner.

By John Cording (06/12/2008)

For those interested, the Ballerina Cafe George Street Hove is where New Look is now. I also used the cafe in 1966 along with my friends Richard Elms, Carole Blakney and Eileen Slade. And also spent my early years at George Street School when Mr Jones was the headmaster. Anybody remember me?

By Tony Diamond (nee Bates) (23/03/2009)

My mum, Linda Moses (as was then), used to work in Stuart Norris in the 60's. She seems to remember them filming some sort of detergent ad for the TV in there during this period. Does anyone know anything about it?

By Elaine Saunders (12/04/2009)

Yes I remember you Tony. I should because you are my Bruv and I am looking forward to seeing you again in Adelaide in November. My friend Joe Brown and I were the champions on the soccer table in the back room at the Ballerina. That was in 1957. Stan Risden, ex Albion soccer player, worked there then. Great memories.

By Derek Tanner (23/09/2009)

I think the filming of the advertisement was for Daz washing powder. They used to turn up in all sorts of places offering you money to swap your Daz for a cheaper one, which people did not accept because nothing compared to Daz! I used to earn a pound for all day Saturday in that shop .

By Wendy Carpenter (27/10/2009)

Hi, I just wanted to say thank you to Wendy Carpenter for the info re the possible connection with Daz advertising in Stuart Norris in the 60's. I'll check it out.

By Elaine Saunders (04/05/2010)

Reading this article about the Ballerina. Do any of you remember me - I was married to Caroline? If anybody is interested you will always find me in Weatherspoons in George Street. Just ask for J.B. the D.J. who played in the Connaught in Hove Street.

By John Brown (05/10/2010)

Derek, you sound just like your bruv.

By Richard Elms (31/10/2010)

Hello John Brown. We remember you - yes, you were always in Spoons supping your quota like a good 'un. Also the lovely Caroline. It's about time you did a stint.

By Richard Elms (05/11/2010)

I use to visit Ballerina 1954 to 1956. Met my wife there, she was known as Betty Richings. I remember Phil Costable, Peggy and a few more. You could certainly drive both ways then. Happy days.

By Brian Blundell (19/06/2011)

I don't think there has ever been a more perfect street than George Street, I was one of the school kids singing " we're the men of Sussex" outside St Andrews school when the Queen walked the length of the street to reopen it after renovation in '63 ( she looked bored and never even looked at the wailing choir who practiced for weeks). My mother shopped daily for dinner, toting a toddler and a better behaved poodle; later in her life that familiarity allowed her independence far beyond her mental ability. My first cafe meal was in the upstairs dining room of the chip shop just north of the school. My first nights with friends away from home were in that coffee bar with the great jukebox ( Motown for me). My pocket money spent in Lesney's toyshop, then the record store and finally lay away for my first watch (as close to James Bond's as affordable) all on the same High street. My sister now shops for dinner on that dear street although there are no longer three butchers calling their prices wearing straw boaters and striped aprons and they still sell coffee but do they roast it in the window? Is there a more perfect street?

By Warwick Stone (08/12/2011)

I met an old pal today and we started talking about the Ballerina. So I thought that I would look online for anything and found this great site. I lived nearby in Goldstone Road and used to spend as much time as I could drinking coffee and listening to the juke box. Sometimes we could get to play football, but not often. I hung about with Marilyn and Sandra who were twins and remember the Everley brothers "Don't want your love anymore" belting out. It would always break my heart back then. Brian - did you work at Lumley & Hunts? If so - Hi, how are you? Great memories.

By Lilian & Ron (26/06/2012)

Hello Sally Mills. Sorry to have taken so long to answer. I did not live on Livingstone Road, but it may have been Richard Wyatt who lived there. I believe his father worked at the printing place on the corner of Shirley Street. However I did live on Ellen Street for a while above Ferris' grocer shop, and I did work for Baldock's butchers after they moved from Shirley Street.

By Richard White (20/05/2014)

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