A barrow hire yard, 1915-75

A photo of Diplock's market, 1994

Diplock’s yard in North Road is one of the few remaining yards in Brighton. It used to be known as Diplock’s Barrow Hire and from 1915-75 it provided an unusual form of transport used daily by a great number of people – barrows or hand trucks as they were known.

Roy Smith who ran the yard for many years wrote in the North Laine Runner in 1985 that, “A number of regular customers were what are called `totters’ or `rag-and-bone men’, who would go around the streets shouting and collecting any item that would earn a few coppers, such as old clothing, bits of furniture and scrap metal.”

In 1975 the barrows became uneconomic and were disposed of. The last two were sold and shipped to Johannesburg in South Africa.

Comments about this page

  • In the late 50s early 60s when we were teenagers and looking for work, we would hire a barrow for 2 shillings a day from Diplocks yard, and go totting. It would vary how much of a load you got. Somedays we could have three loads, some days it was only one. We would take our rags and metal to a scrapyard in Lewes Road and weigh off. One day as we were coming down Coombe Road, we had a struggle holding the barrow back as it was well overloaded. At the bottom we couldn’t hold it anymore and it went on it’s merry way crashing into a number 48 trolley bus on the Lewes Road. The police were not far away and took details. The damage was not too much to the bus, only scratched paint, but the barrow had lost one of its back legs. We had to fork out 10 shillings for the repair to the barrow. I can’t remember if we got our collars felt for not having a licence.

    By Mick Peirson (17/11/2006)
  • I was very familiar with what you now call Diplock’s Market which is really a very recent title. My family lived in Kemp Street and my mother was very good friends with the two Diplock sisters who owned this yard. Does anybody out there remember them? Jessie was the outgoing one and got married late in life as I recall and Win was the very serious older sister. They made a very reasonable living from hiring out barrows as the Saturday Market just round the corner was going really well in those days (1940s-1950s) much better than the rather sad affair it has now become. This was also the place that Tony Mancini hired the barrow to transport his trunk complete with body from one address to another. It seems a pity that your researchers do not seem to be curious as to how the name of the property came about and have not mentioned these two sisters who were very well known and liked in those days.

    By Teresa Nolan (nee Gaynor) (29/07/2007)
  • I recall there used to be a three wheeled covered van in the yard for many years. It was driven by a motorcycle engine and had a single front wheel steered by handlebars beneath which was an enormuse coiled spring. It probably went for scrap, but these days would have been worth a fortune as a unique collectors item.

    By Roy Grant (05/06/2008)
  • I used to live in the Heart and Hand pub a few doors away from Diplocks yard from 1965 till many years  later, on and off. My stepfather was Frank Pearce and my mum Peggy. I was good friends with Roy and Wins daughters Julie and Suzy; we used to collect bits from the market after the stallholders had left and play house in the yard (great days). My nan and grandad had a fruit and veg stall in the market, also my grandad was a rag and bone man. I used to sit on his barrow as a child when he walked the streets shouting rag ‘n bone. Great memories.

    By Janet Groves (31/01/2009)
  • My first husband was at one time a barrow boy and his father before him. His father Dan use to have a stall in the Saturday markets. It was always crowded in the late fifties and early sixties, I use to love going there, and at one time as a very small child I lived in the street itself.
    Good old days they were everyone so friendly and with much more community minded.

    By Carry (02/05/2009)
  • I started work in 1969 at George Freeman’s builders merchants and remember Hove Corporation housing department coming and collecting 1/4 yard of sand and some cement in hand carts then pushing them through Hove to the various jobs.

    By John Hewitt (19/08/2009)
  • I lived at 21 Queens Gardens and worked as a boy, in the late 60s, in Clifton Garage in Upper Gardner street. I used to help get the barrows out on a Saturday morning along with Diplock’s son – even though I went to school with the son his name escapes me. Does anyone remember Steven’s wet fish shop half way along Upper Gardner street that was my grandfathers shop.

    By Chris Freeman (15/01/2010)
  • I grew up in Diplock’s from 1963 till I left home in 1980. My father Roy and mother Rosa (both deceased) ran the yard there together. I had an older brother Terence (a high achieving academic, who attended Brighton Grammar on a scholarship), brother Robert (always helping Dad in the yard and went to Queens Park High) and sister Julie. Many memories there but especially going on the barrows for rides with the market boys. I now reside in Brisbane Australia. My brother Terence lives in San Sebastian, Spain. My brother Robert sadly ended his life about 7 years ago and my sister Julie still lives in Sussex. I would love to hear from Janet Grove if anyone knows her whereabouts. We were great friends and mischief makers.

    By Suzi O'Sullivan (nee Smith) (06/09/2013)

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