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Working at Mr Burt

Churchill Square photographed in the 1980s
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Ahead of its time

The Burton store where I worked in Churchill Square was ahead of its time, they sold the top fashions in every way. The older Burton stores were behind and very much like Dunn Brothers, very traditional. ‘Mr.Burt’ was more a ‘Top Man’ type of store with modern popular music hence the eight track system. The system played albums like ‘Dark Side of The Moon’, ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney and Wings with ‘Band On The Run’, Lou Reed and his album ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ and lots of other really cool music. The store was very modern at the time, with an open staircase which had a ranch rail from the ground to the first floor and all the way down to the manager’s office and the basement.

Remember the newspaper seller?

Churchill Square was very different than it is today. I remember that there was a newspaper vendor’s shed on the front corner of the square by the Crambourne pub. Opposite the pub there used to be a very good traditional butcher, he was always busy. Where ‘Waterstones’ now is, there used to be a Pizza parlour restaurant which served superb pizzas; next door was the ‘Ravel’ shoe store. I remember Sainsbury’s being built and Habitat which came later. Tesco’s was on the lower level; BHS has always been on the front of the square. Of course there was Dixon’s where I bought my first SLR camera.

Do you remember?

Did you ever shop in Mr Burt? What did you buy and how much was it? What other shops do you remember in Churchill Square around this time? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.


Comments about this page

  • Mike, which years were you working at Mr. Burt?

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (07/12/2013)
  • My strongest memory of Churchill Square is from 1961 when I started work at Machinery Publishing Company in West Street. During this period they were demolishing the streets of terraced houses that eventually became Churchill Square.  I remember walking around the area during my lunch breaks when there were large piles of wood doors and timber joists burning. They seemed to burn everything combustible on site. It was what seemed total destruction of a vast area of homes to make way for a typical 60s built monstrosity (Churchill Square) which was in turn demolished not so many years later.
    Is there anyone who lived in those terraced houses? It would be interesting to see photos of what the area looked like before this devastation took place.

    By Chris Kisko (08/12/2013)
  • I seem to remember I bought my wedding suit at Burtons. The brand was ’Peter Brown’ and I remember being kitted out in the same shop with the shirt, a very wide tie (which was all the rage in 1976) and the shoes. The suit was brown and the shirt was beige which was also all the rage in 1976, as were armchairs and settees, women’s fashions and fitted carpet along with the ‘pineapple’ ice buckets and hostess trollies (I could go on)!! I can’t remember what it cost me but as I was only earning about £20 per week at the time it couldn’t have been more than that. I still have the suit – and the coat-hanger!

    By Paul Clarkson (09/12/2013)
  • Chris, the best site to see what Churchill Square and the surrounding streets looked like before demolition is The James Gray Collection. Volume 29, no 106 shows my grandmother in front of her house in 1960 in Blucher Place, the last person in the way of development. She won her case and received £900 compensation. The JG Collection is definitely worth a visit as it shows pictures of not only Brighton but Hove, Rottingdean Woodingdean, Southwick etc.

    By Peter Maurice (12/12/2013)
  • This photo must have been taken very early morning before we all got started. I have never seen it this deserted. I worked at Miss Selfridge from it’s start date for about five and a half years, so I remember this precinct pretty well. What I can’t remember is the name of the pub hiding just behind the lorry in the background of the picture. Some of us will have popped in there for ‘refreshment’ at times. Can anyone else recall its name?

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (13/12/2013)
  • Sandra, it was the Prince of Wales pub. Still there!

    By Janet Beal (14/12/2013)
  • This is Mike who used to work for Burton Menswear or the modern ‘Mr. Burt’ high fashion store during the mid 1970s before it closed it’s door prior to the new Topman store opening with the ongoing Topshop store on lower (Central!) Western Road, Brighton.  I was employed by Burton’s from 1973-78, when I received redundancy pay and left the company after 5 years service as a young teenager and assistant on commission. 

    My branch manager Brian C White later became regional manager for Topman in Oxford Street and assistant manager Gordon Scourfield became the new manager of Topman on Oxford Circus, London.

    Gordon Scourfield’s uncle was Councillor for Brighton Borough.

    The Window dresser was John Mackie and his wife was Vi (short for Violet!) who was cashier for a while.

    In the summer period, the store used to get extremely busy with tourists and regular customers and a sea of people on two floors particularly on a Saturday afternoon and the manager would expect his cashier to start cashing up at 3:30 pm and what extra we made after cashing up would be carried over to the following week and Monday morning opening!

    My summer time breaks would be usually down on the fishing beach for an hour to eat my sandwiches!

    I remember one day the window dresser running into the store to let Brian and his staff know that the Regent was being demolished and the beautiful sprung wooden floor had been taken away for ever!

    By Mike Denley (20/08/2016)
  • The picture of the frontage of stores must of been taken in the mid 1970’s as the Burton store closed its doors for good in 1978.

    By Mike Denley (21/08/2016)

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