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Johnson Bros. Department Store

This photograph was taken around 1965 in the soft furnishing workshop of Johnson’s Department store.

When we didn’t have many orders for curtains or loose covers the staff had to make draught-excluders to be placed along the bottom of doors. Firstly a tube was made from scrap material which we then had to fill with sawdust, compacting it down until the tube was full before stitching across the end of the tube.

In the picture from right to left are Emily Gore, Dorothy Wiltshire and Mary but regrettably I cannot remember the name of the girl on the extreme left.

Making draught excuders
From the private collection of Alexis Grossmith

Comments about this page

  • Hi, my father, Patrick Dawes (known as Charlie) worked at this store, as a carpet fitter and cabinet maker, along with my mother and her twin sister, Elizabeth and Margaret (known as Betty and Peggy) Woods.

    By Sharon Witney (21/09/2012)
  • My Mum also worked in the soft furnishing department from 1946 – 1958.  Gwen Bishop later returning as Gwen Leggett. She tells me she knew and worked with all the ladies in the photo.

    By Karen Pattinson (22/09/2012)
  • I worked as a bought ledger clerk in the office for Mr. Watts in 1948. All addition and subtraction was done in our heads because there were no calculating machines at that time. I left their employ when I emigrated to Canada.

    By Frank (28/04/2013)
  • My late father started work at Johnston Bros in 1929 and stayed until his death in 1971; his name was Harry Buckland and he started as apprentice cabinet maker and French polisher. At a later stage he transferred as an outside representative measuring for new carpets, curtains etc.

    By Peter Buckland , (29/04/2013)
  • Over the summer we got talking to a volunteer at Bovington Tank Museum; his name is Dale Johnson and he told us that he came from Brighton and that this was his family’s business. He’s now retired to Dorset but regularly visits Sussex as part of The Real Dad’s Army re-enactment group (they’re at Shoreham Airshow each year). I don’t have an email to send him a link to this but I hope he’s come across it himself.

    By Nell Pulham (24/09/2013)
  • My first job after leaving school was in the accounts office of Johnson bros. Mr Watts was my boss. I met Robert who worked in several departments, just like “Are you being served”, who I married in 1961 & we celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary in Oct 2013. Roger Watts was & remains our friend from that era. Yes, we had a lot of fun there. Weather permitting, lunch on the beach & a quick swim – I remember Mr Garnet, window dresser, swimming too. I spent some lunchtimes looking after the cash & invoices that sped through the Lamson tubes from each department ending up in the cash office. The lads used to get together, instigated by Rob & Roger, who arranged at a given signal to send as many bullets when they knew I was in the cash office, giving me a fright as I was new & because it was a quieter time & not the usual 2 people there. I have forgotten a lot of the names. I used to also sit in the little kiosk at the front of the shop some other lunchtime breaks. Mr Bernard, who liked to be called that instead of Mr Johnson, was a very fair man & he lived in Storrington until his death. Neither I nor my husband still worked there when the fire destroyed the building & it was never the same after that. Fond & happy memories of an earlier life never to be repeated in this era.
    I left the shop after a few years to work in the Evening Argus Advertisement Department just because it was a new & challenging post. It was the start of Telesales, looking after local business & taking ads over the telephone.  That’s another story!
    I was  Joyce Marshall then now Chalk. I know must people will know Rob as he had a motorbike, every young lad’s wish list then.

    By Joyce Chalk (nee Marshall) (06/12/2013)
  • Hi Joyce, I remember Johnson Bros, I used to have a few friends who worked in the curtain and carpet fitting dep’t. I believe also one or two people from Hannington’s. Do you remember Bob Pennock? A great carpet man, I think so many years ago 1963 – 1965. It is so nice reading your comments from the past, Brighton is not what it used to be with so many changes, we need this website. We must keep it alive or all these memories will be lost!

    By Joe Mann (07/02/2018)
  • I worked at Johnson Brothers store in the office around 1972. I don’t remember anyone’s names, but everyone was very nice to me. I was only 17 and this was the first job I’d been in since school, that I actually liked! The job was varied – I covered for the girl doing the sales ledger, and the switchboard lady, besides doing typing, photocopying and filing. The switchboard was very old, even in those days, with ‘dolls eyes’, plugs, and switches, etc. There was always a funny smell in the room – which housed the switchboard – and the lady who usually worked there always used to remark that it smelt like “a whore’s knickers’! I’d always been useless at maths at school, so it surprised me when one of the Mr Johnson’s complimented me on my work with the sales ledger, and volunteered to turn me into some sort of accountant. The two men including him, used to call me ‘Lady Hamilton’! This was the first job I’d had since leaving (awful!!!) Tideway, that I’d felt appreciated and wanted! Sadly, I’d decided to leave home and set up with my boyfriend in Southampton, so I gave in my notice. There’s a lot more to this story! Let me know if you’re interested.

    By Dawn So (22/10/2019)
  • How had a fire affected the store? I don’t remember anything about this. I left school in 1971 and worked at several other places before Johnson Brothers. As I said, I don’t remember anyone’s names, but there was a staff room. So at lunch time, I used to buy some food out and bring it back to eat in this room, and the only other person who was often there was a man who smoked a pipe. He looked like he was well gone on it. I remember at Christmas, we had a party and I drank a bit too much, and snogged some bloke who worked downstairs! He seemed to enjoy it anyway! The office manageress was very caring, and when I left, she presented me with a lovely cheese dish with cover!

    By Dawn So (22/10/2019)
  • Isn’t there anyone out there who remembers Johnson Brothers after the fire? I worked there around 1973 and didn’t even know that there had been a fire! I worked in the office. As I’ve previously mentioned, I used to cover for telephone switchboard duties at lunch breaks etc. I have a confession to make! I never met the man, but he used to come through to the switchboard quite often – always terse and impatient. So one day, he wanted an outside line, and I’d discovered that if I fiddled with the connecting plug while a person was dialling, it would interrupt their connection and they wouldn’t get through. I tried it with him repeatedly on one occasion, and he got so irate! I really enjoyed myself! I don’t remember his name – poor chap!

    By Dawn So (23/01/2021)
  • I remember how devastated we were when Johnsons had their fire. Lovely store and a mecca for soft furnishings. My parents, who lived in Hove bought a 3-piece suite in their fire sale and a few years later it was gifted to me a year after my marriage, when I moved to Scotland. Lovely oldy-worldy friendly store.

    By Krystyna Zielinski-Smith (12/09/2023)

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