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Toomeys, Roedale Road

This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of Hollingdean News – an independent community newsletter produced and distributed by Hollingdean residents.

Last month, I asked if anyone had memories of working at Toomeys in Roedale Road which has been completely demolished in the last few weeks. The site had had a long use by various laundry companies from the late 1890s onwards and a laundry building on the site built in 1939 was extended in about 1960 onto the land occupied by two smaller concerns, to form the building fronting onto Roedale Rd and Hollingdean Terrace.

A reader from Dudley Rd kindly contacted me to tell me about the life of the building in the late 1950s when it was the warehouse for Wallis Holder and Lee wholesale grocers, where she worked as an office junior.

The company moved from East St in about 1959 where they had offices and storage – not an easy place to access loading bays with delivery lorries, which might be why they moved to Hollingdean. In the East St warehouse they even smoked their own bacon hung from rafters, but did not continue this at the ‘new’ store.

They were a large concern, delivering canned and dry goods as well as household groceries to shops in town and to all the outlying village shops, of which in those days there were many. Our reader recalls seeing the upstairs of the store full of selection boxes ready for Christmas!

At Roedale Rd the loading bay was to the front of the building but the office was sited in the house nearest to what is now the Cabin chip shop on Hollingdean Rd. There was a pathway connecting to the back of the house, which had no garden, between the office and the warehouse which the office girls could use, and saved having to walk all the way round the corner.

Another reader contacted to say that she had recollections of going to the building as a ‘cash and carry’ in the 70s and that it was still operating then as a grocery business. Wallis Holder and Lee later moved to Newhaven and the building was taken over by Toomeys who also used the long building in nearby Dudley Rd (now a church) to store refrigeration units.

Toomeys site from Roedale Rd after demolition November 2006
Photo: J.Whittam

Comments about this page

  • I remember working alongside Toomeys in 1968 when they had a retail showroom on the corner of Regency Mews. I never had reason to go in there, but I used to go past it every morning and evening, up Regency mews to Moores Garage. They had one in Silwood Street that was Rovers and Land Rovers. Mine was Triumph, Daimler, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Bently and new car preparation bay. Ahh, those were the days! There were showrooms at Mitre House,Western Road and one at the Old Stiene. They go back to 1920 and Reg Winterborn was still there until about 1995, he was working there for about 70 years. He taught me. He was the best. I’d like to talk to anyone that knows me or him.

    By Ron Edmonds (16/01/2007)
  • I have lived in Burstead Close for 11 years now.  As I walk though Burstead Woods, I see roses and other plants growing wild. Can anyone tell me if there used to be gardens there at one point?

    By Chris Jones (12/03/2007)
  • Dear Chris Jones
    By the 1920’s the land of Lower Roedale farm at the end of Stanmer Villas had been divided up (see other pages soon to come in this section or Hollingdean News March 2007 issue). The old dairy buildings in Stanmer Villas and surrounding ground (now Burstead Close) were being used by the Brighton Corporation Parks and Gardens department as nurseries and a depot. Lower Roedale public allotments were well established in the lee of the small valley and many more stretched uphill, on the land later to become the development of Brentwood Road. There is an interesting aerial photo dated 1946 (see “Seedy Business” Moulsecoomb Forest Garden publication) which shows that the land later built on to make Burstead Close is bordered by allotments and still marked out in small fields which would have been smallholding size. There were also originally sizeable flower and veg gardens surrounding Golf House, which still sits next to the Burstead flats, and around the farmhouse demolished in the mid 60’s which stood at the site of the lower bus stop on Brentwood Road. Burstead woods as a plantation are evident on maps for many decades previously and very clear on the 1946 photo so I don’t think there were gardens directly on that site. My guess is that there would have been plenty of potential sources for roses and other garden flowers to migrate from, either deliberately planted or via compost heaps etc. I am currently finding out more about the history of Roedale Nurseries, what was grown there and where – this may also have provided plant escapees! I could also put your question forward in Hollingdean News which gets a good response from our long time residents.

    By Joy Whittam (19/03/2007)
  • Does anyone remember the Campings Coach Garage at the Corner of Hollingdean Terrace? I held a torch for a girl who lived next door to the garage. As for Campings they used to park some of their coaches behind a large house in Upper Lewes Road.

    By Graham Maskell (28/11/2008)
  • A follow up – where the Toomeys site was is now about 20 or so houses. They’re a bit ugly, but the people who live there are lovely. Living next door to the old garage is a great couple and their new baby. I’m nestled in between, running our new social/community/creative/arts project from the Hollingean Motors space. No coaches here any more, except in the name. Coachwerks.

    By Graeme Walker (04/01/2009)
  • My mum used to work at the Palmeston laundry in Roedale Road, we used to play football, or “sticky policeman” in the loading bay area almost every night in the fifties. My grandmother Annie Townsend lived in no 28 for over fifty years, great times and fantastic people.

    By Barry Plank (22/01/2009)
  • My mother also worked in the laundry at the bottom of Roedale Road. She was a classifier, which meant she separated items in order that they were grouped appropriately and laundered to suit the fabric ie. silk, wool, linen and cotton. She also told me about the bed bugs that appeared at times. Yuk! On occasions she cleaned at Mrs Palmerston’s house, (the laundry owner) and held the family in high regard.
    Opposite the laundry there was a Mr Church who sold coal and ‘bricketts’. My siblings and I used to take an old pram from Stephens Road and collect fuel to augment the delivery of coal at home, which had probably run out before the next one was due. Were they tough times? Maybe, but I don’t remember them as such. I have spoken to my sisters and they agree with me that those were indeed happy times.
    A couple of years ago I went with one of my sisters and a torch, to see if the footprints in the concrete at the base of the retaining walls of the gardens fronting the terraced houses on the eastern side of Stephens Road, were still in evidence. We made them as small girls by stepping into the wet material. To our delight, they were. What the local residents thought of two old biddys crouching beneath their garden walls, armed with a torch, were doing, I can’t imagine! So if you happen to find yourself in that area and find said footprints, they were made by two little girls who were born in the 1940s. What fun!

    By Linda Harris (nee Keats) (02/05/2009)
  • I moved into 16 Hollingdean Terrace about 1962 age 5 and so I used to play around the old laundry a lot. There was a conker tree in between the laundry and the pub and the strip of land up the side of the laundry was like a big jungle at that age, all of 10 foot wide. When I got older I helped out at Campings coaches – washing and cleaning the coaches and helping the fitter Ken Grimes. Oh, was the girl next door a blonde girl called Jill? I had a thing for her, but she was a bit older than me.

    By Kevin Mcgrath (16/03/2010)
  • OMG! I cant believe that I’ve found a web site for a place that I used to work at! Happy days working for Toomeys in the late 80s early 90s. My working life started in Roedale Road with Toomeys, so if you worked there at the same time as me - buzz me. 07967769858

    By Tyson Pickett (19/10/2010)
  • Hi Kevin McGrath, Yes you are correct the girl next door to Campings Coaches was a blonde called Jill! I went to the same school as her (Downs Infant and Junior). I was also christened the same day at the same church as her. Would you believe I had a thing for her as well!

    By Graham Maskell (01/06/2011)
  • I started as an apprentice at Toomeys at Florence place in 1955. Also worked at both of the Roedale Road sites and the small storage garage nearby. Spent time at Preston St. Hey-ho some good times. Left in 1984. David Durant

    By David Durant (03/09/2011)
  • Hi, I was born in Payne Terrace in Roedale Road. Went to Hertford Road school. My Nan and Great Gran both worked in Palmeston Laundry. Love to hear about the history of the laundry. The cottages where I was born were the first houses to be built in Roedale Road.

    By Jill Scutt (nee Wren) (05/02/2013)
  • Hi, my Father worked for |Toomeys, as a refrigeration Engineer, I guess around 1957-1960, after leaving the Naafi. I think he held a couple of jobs in this field before moving on to Total Refrigeration. My Father’s name was Michael ‘Doug’ Bacon, sadly passed away last year. If anyone remembers him from the Toomeys days let me know. I still have some of his old tools!

    By Gary Bacon (13/04/2013)
  • Hi everyone, myself and a former Toomeys apprentice are hoping to start a Toomeys foundation in order to get more of today’s young people into the refrigeration industry.  To do this properly we would like to reach out to the Toomeys family and the current owners of the Toomeys name. Can anyone point us in the right direction? Best regards 

    By Peter Johnson (17/04/2015)
  • Hi everyone. Yes, I do remember Campings coaches and the laundry. My brothers, John and Richard Curd, and I used to swing upside down on the railing on the upper level of the laundry. Also remember the two sweet shops opposite, called Marchants (2 sisters ran it) and Aldertons at the bottom of Dudley Road where I lived.

    By Jenny Shaw (nee Curd) (16/06/2015)
  • Hi Kevin, my Brother’s wife was Ken Grimes’ sister, I also spent many an evening outside the Holingbury Pub waiting for my parents. We lived on Davey Drive.

    By Mike Bryant (24/06/2015)
  • Hi Mike, I didn’t know you followed this site. Good anyway, hope you are well.

    By Joyce Blackman (Bryant) (11/08/2015)
  • Hi, I am Ken and I worked at Campings Coaches at Hollingdean. I was a mechanic  for the company for 24 years.

    By Ken Grimes (24/10/2016)
  • The name Ken Grimes brings back memories. My dad, Steve Stanford drove for Campings for many years. Has anyone got any Campings photos I could buy or borrow? Thanks

    By Simon Stanford (01/11/2016)
  • Hi Mike and Margaret, hope you are both well, have a good Christmas.

    By David (08/11/2016)
  • My father Cyril Scaping was Managing Director for Wallis Holder& Lee in East Street (now Regency Mews). He served them for over 50 years, prior to their move to Roedale Road. My parents (Cyril & Barbara) would take my brother Peter and me to The Hollingbury pub (Parfitt family) for lemonade and crisps on the doorstep. We had moved to Horton Road.

    By Barry Scaping (27/01/2017)
  • I worked at the factory as a welder in the early 80s. I remember some great friends.

    By Stuart Butler (21/08/2017)
  • Hi Ken Grimes, I remember you from Campings days….my step-father used to work there, his name was Alf Maskell, other people I remember were Bill Godden, Jock Muir, Alf’s coach was a 53 seater CTM406D a Bedford Duple I believe.

    By Graham Maskell (18/07/2018)
  • I worked as an apprentice at Toomeys and left to work for REA Bott in London- I returned after 2 years to work as a designer in Preston st Brighton.
    Good memories.

    By David Durant (12/02/2023)
  • This is a very late response to Barry Scaping’s article of 2017. I have had an interest for some time in the food based trades around the East St/Town Hall area. I looked in the Pikes directory 1933 and could not find anything under East St for Wallis,Holder & Lee. A bit more digging found it listed as Market St where it is in the sequence by the little twitten that runs down by the Sussex Hotel, named then as East St Passage. This is the area that eventually became Regent Arcade in the 1960s[not Regency Mews, which is off Preston Street]. Wonderful to think of bacon smoking taking place amongst the fashion houses of East Street. I did once go into the bacon stoves that were in Jubilee Street where the Library is now, they were certainly ‘atmospheric’!

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (13/02/2023)

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