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Morning after the 1966 fire

Much loved building

On Sunday 9th January 1966 I was horrified to hear that Hove Town hall was burning. It was a much loved wonderful old building that had played a part in my life. I had a personal connection with the bulding as I worked at the council nursery growing plants for display in the lord mayors parlour and for all the big functions held at the town hall.

Regular visitors

Our department was involved very regularly to deliver lorry loads of plants which were put on display around the stage for various events and functions. At the time of the fire I could not get near the Town Hall; as it was burning there was chaos. I went back the next morning to get some photographs which you can see here.

Hove Town Hall January 1966
Photo by John Bell
Hove Town Hall January 1966
Photo by John Bell
Hove Town Hall January 1966
Photo by John Bell
Hove Town Hall January 1966
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Comments about this page

  • My aunt Betty had a greengrocers/flower shop not far from where the third shot was taken. It had become a takeaway of some kind when I was last in Hove some years ago, but I know that the fire was a very dramatic event in her life at the time.

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (10/11/2015)
  • Thanks for sharing these photos John. There appears to be very few photos post-fire of this beautiful building. Most of my childhood I lived in Hova Villas, the next road along from the Town Hall. Despite my poor memory I do remember being woken up by my parents because of the fire, and walking round to watch the rescue vehicles trying to save the Town Hall. Unfortunately as we all know this was not possible and eventually it was replaced by the current monstrosity. 

    By Nick Lade (10/11/2015)
  • Having looked at the third photo, I am puzzled that the building on the corner of Norton Road appears to be a National Provincial (reverse image!) bank premises. However, I always thought this building was occupied by the pharmacy Parris & Greening. Can anyone shed any light on this?

    Editor’s note: Have reversed the third photo – thanks.

    By Nick Lade (10/11/2015)
  • Printed back to front? Note: National Provincial Bank. We had a friend who owned a private retired fire pump and he was called in to pump water for the Hove Town Hall fire.

    By Tim Sargeant (10/11/2015)
  • Some of the pictures are reversed.

    By Renia (11/11/2015)
  • The third photograph is not printed back-to-front, if it was you would not see the lettering as it appears on this page. The building there was and still is a bank, only nowadays it is a branch of the National Westminster Bank Plc. Parris & Greening is on the other corner, behind the old Town Hall in the same photo. That chemists is also still there today, only it has also changed hands and is now Lloyd’s Pharmacy.

    Hi Alan – in response to a comment above I changed the third image. I did leave a note as well. It had indeed been printed backwards. Jennifer

    By Alan Phillips (12/11/2015)
  • If memory serves me right, the owner of the privately owned ex Brighton Fire Pump mentioned in my previous posting above was a Mr Critchley. He had an engineering business in Kemp Town and collected old commercial and ex-military vehicles.

    By Tim Sargeant (13/11/2015)
  • In view of the reversal of the 3rd. photo, my comments above should be altered to indicate that my aunt’s shop was on the other side of the town hall, and across the road by some yards. Nearer in fact to the 2nd photo’s position. Hope that’s clear?!

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (13/11/2015)
  • Thanks for changing the third image Jennifer. With regard to Parris & Greening in these photos (same problem with the second image as well), I wondered if any of your readers could help. Growing up in the area I remember as a child when I passed the pharmacy that in the window display there were always some very large glass carboys filled with coloured liquid and despite checking the James Gray Collection website, Hove library photograph collection and the internet I cannot find any photos of these iconic carboys. Hove library do have some interesting interior photos of the pharmacy in 1980 prior to alterations but no exterior ones of the building. Can anyone help?

    By Nick Lade (14/11/2015)
  • I remember this scene only too well. What a shame it was to lose such a wonderful building.
    Unfortunately, Jennifer, the first photo is also reversed. The name S M Tidy on the cab, and the words Mobile Crane on the side of the truck are the wrong way round. The second photo is similarly reversed, with this truck in the same position, and Parris & Greening where the bank should be.  If the truck is still in the same position in the fourth and last photo, (you can see the top of the crane-like structure) then I’m afraid that is also reversed.  I do remember the large glass carboys, Nick, (were they filled with green and red liquid?) but I’m afraid I can’t help with the photos. Regards Alan

    By Alan Hobden (16/11/2015)
  • Photos: I give up!!

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (17/11/2015)
  • My family and I lived right next door to Hove town hall in the garden flat under the Water Rate Office. We were evacuated in the early hours, which was a bit terrifying initially, but once we were safe, we all watched the beautiful iconic building burn on. I also worked at Paris & Greening as an assistant when I was sixteen.

    By Jill Hayden (09/03/2020)
  • The Hove town hall was finally demolished by the Worthing based Hall&Co. (demolition department in Park road, Worthing) which was often called in to make a fire damaged building safe, and then if it was not possible to save it, were the company hired to demolish it, which was what happened here. My Father Ted Telling was the manager of this department, and as a teenager, I often accompanied him to these sites to take pictures and movie film on the company camera. Later in life, after RMC took over Hall & Co, and closed the Demolition department, my father started up his own demolition company, “Telling Demolition” hiring many of his men who had been made redundant from Hall & Co at the time. Before he passed away in 1990, my father gave all the pictures and movie film we had taken of all the demolition jobs in Worthing, Hove and Brighton area to the local museums, so it is likely that the film and pictures of the Hove Town Hall fire and demolition are now held in storage by either Brighton or Hove Museum. I still have a piece of one of the bells from the clock tower.

    By Peter Telling (27/05/2020)

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