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.