Like a bazaar in Tangiers

A photo of Diplock's market, 1994

You can miss Diplock’s Market if you are walking past or driving past quickly. It’s just a hole in the wall, and if you go in you are creeping into almost the old Arab quarter of Brighton. It’s a bit like a bazaar in Tangiers or somewhere.

It’s one up from a car boot sale, but it’s not really a shop. Yet it’s part of a kind of a culture that exists in Brighton, of living just on the edge of legality, a kind of wayward, itinerant existence – people doing lots of part time work.

Comments about this page

  • Diplock’s, as Geoff Mead describes so well, was part of something at the heart of Brighton and plenty of people are still trying to get by in the same marginal way. But Diplock’s is now being developed as expensive flats and this sort of thing, of course, is taking the heart out of Brighton.

    By David Gray (09/07/2004)
  • I can remember a time in the 1950s when Diplock’s was a place you could hire a barrow. But I beleive it was established much earlier than this, possibly pre war. A barrow was the only means of transport that many people could afford. People would hire a barrow to move house. All the ‘barrow boys’ of Brighton would go there to rent a barrow by the hour or day. On a Saturday all the barrows would be out for use in the Upper Gardner street Market. Lots of the ‘stalls’ sold greengrocery then and the men would get the produce from nearby Brighton Municipal Market in Circus Street. When the market closed the street would be littered with all the unsold vegetables and I recall lots of people sorting through them. My grandmother Mrs Maskell, ran a comic and book shop in Upper Gardner Street after my grandfather died.

    By Tony Tree (19/02/2005)
  • We very often hired a barrow from Diplocks as my Mother used to have the number one pitch in Upper Gardener Street on the corner outside the Heart in Hand in the 50’s. Many a frozen Saturday we spent to earn a crust. The highlight of the day was a `Tickysnack’ pie from Min’s cook shop on the corner of Tichborne Street.

    By Ted Ancell (02/03/2005)
  • My dad used to own Diplock’s from about 1966 to about 1990 and my brothers, sister and I used to live in the house. I remember people coming on Saturday morning to hire out the barrows. My dad got rid of them in the end as they started to fall apart and there was nobody left to repair them. But I still have an oriignal barrow wheel in my garden!

    By Julie Norton (23/05/2005)
  • Note to Tony Tree. Did Mrs. Maskall live in Over Street and have a daughter named Julia? Contact

    By John Wall (10/07/2006)
  • I lived in Holland Street from 1945 until about 1947 when I was a young lad, and can remember that there was a shop (a grocery shop I think), halfway along the street on the east side called Diplocks. Was there a connection with the barrow business?

    By Vic Bath (29/01/2007)
  • I also remember the shop half way along Holland Street and yes I’m sure too it was Diplocks. Sunday school teacher Mrs Hollaway and daughter Rene lived a few doors away from the shop everyone knew everyone in those days. My grandparents the Taylors lived at number 6. My grandfather was Bill Taylor who everyone knew as he was a fisherman and as soon as he came back with his catch it was sold.
    On the Southover corner of Holland Street was Smallwoods – that is where I used to go for a metal urn of tea sometimes for my Grandad. Pammy Smallwood was my friend her dad had a machine that made ice-cream he kept in the yard he must have been the first to have anything so modern. On the other corner was Mr Mrs Cheesmans the Butchers. They lived with their son Micheal and they had a daughter they lived not far from the shop. But then I think they lived above the shop. Micheal took over the shop in later years until he retired. I dont live in Brighton now but every part is still vivid to me

    By Pamela (02/06/2008)
  • I can remember Diplocks yard.  My stepfather had a couple of pitches in Gardener Street market and my first job on a Saturday morning was to go and get the two stalls from Diplocks and take them back when we had finished.  Last time I saw it as it was it was all locked up and empty but I had a look into the yard for old time’s sake.

    By Dennis Fielder (20/06/2008)
  • 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 Diplocks son – even though I went to school with the son his name escapes me. Does anyone remember Stevens wet fish shop half way along Upper Gardner street that was my grandfathers shop.

    By Chris Freeman (02/11/2008)
  • My late mother lived at 21 Queens Gardens, with her mum and dad, she was then Sheila Freeman, her Dad was Harry Freeman (Christophers dad) and her mother was Mabel Freeman (nee Clayton). She had a brother called Bernard, their father remarried and had several more children, my mum’s half brothers and sister. Mum was always forever talking about this area, wished I had paid more attention now, does anyone remember them?

    By Liesa Saunders (21/06/2011)
  • I was interested to see Chris Freeman’s comment about Steven’s Fishmongers. It was opened by my G G Grandfather, Harry Stevens, and later owned by his wife Fanny Stevens, who died in the early 1930s. A surviving photograph shows the couple, who lived in the Carlton Row slum area, before moving to Upper Gardener St in the late C19th. I am interested in any information regarding the Stevens family and can be contacted

    By L Orchard (17/05/2012)
  • The “son” Chris Freeman refers to must have been either me or my brother Robert.

    By Terry Smith (21/05/2013)
  • Terry it was Robert your brother that I used to hang around with and have fond memories of that time. So glad that you read my comments. it would be great to meet Robert and talk about old times. L Orchard I will email you so we can exchange more about the Stevens family.

    By Chris Freeman (30/07/2013)
  • I used to pop into Diplock’s Yard occasionally in the late seventies, early eighties, when I wanted a cheap battery replacement for my watch. In my memory, the place was full of nooks and crannies, and my watch mending man worked in a confined booth. Diplock’s was part of a rapidly disappearing Brighton, a Brighton where high commercial rents didn’t force small shopkeepers and budding entrepreneurs out of business.

    By Joe Reid (01/08/2013)
  • I wrote the original script for this, in fact it was an oral history for the original ‘My Brighton’ back in 1993. I interviewed the last owners, the Misses Diplock back before then. Two little old ladies with iron grey hair, built like small brick structures! I asked them how they were paid and they said ‘we went round the barrow-boys out on the street and collected each week’; I asked what happened if they did not pay up (bearing in mind that Brighton street corner barrow-boys were all straight out of Brighton Rock). The Misses Diplock just looked at me and there was just a slight pause…until one said – “They always paid up….” Don Corleone himself could not have made that pause and short statement have more effect! I pressed on, ‘But if they didn’t pay?’. ‘Simple’ was the reply-‘my sister and I just grabbed the barrow and tipped all their fruit out in the road!’ I assume they were always paid; the Misses Diplock were truly tough characters.

    By Geoffrey Mead (02/08/2013)
  • An evocative piece of writing, Geoffrey. I worked in the museum when the original appeared there, and was highly impressed by the product.

    By Joe Reid (03/08/2013)
  • My grandad died before I was born, but he was a rag and bone man who also sold fruit and veg on this market later. When he died my Nan took over does anyone remember them? Harold Martin and Annie Martin.

    By Jo matthews (08/05/2020)

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