Remembering the shops and the people
Just to the east of Montague Street was a small twitten called Essex Cottages, it had a garage on the corner and for a six year old in 1961 this was a very scarey place. It was composed of crumbling empty buildings, and what seemed like only one entrance in and out of the dark alley. We would dare each other to go down to the school buildings, which led to a small passage linking the back of houses on Warwick Street. The name we gave to that twitten was Witches Alley, named after the only resident that appeared to be still living in one of the crumbling cottages. She was an old lady who used jump out of a doorway to chase us off with a broom; we used to run for our lives. Looking back now, she was probably more frightened of us.
Remembering the shops
Some of the shops in the area were Bernadette’s Catholic Shop on Bristol Road, which was full of religious trinkets and books. If you followed Bristol Road eastwards and around the bend, you came to David Ki Ki, the bookmakers and Barclay’s Bank. Round the curve on the left was Maddocks sweet shop and George White the estate agent. On the right there was Randall’s and Brampton’s the butchers. Home and Colonial grocers was next, and at the dog leg of St George’s Road was the wonderful Webb’s Stores where you could buy things like duck in orange sauce in a tin. Just past Webb’s was Barnard’s electrical shop which had a small Hornby train running in the window. Lots of the shops of the area hold memories for me.
Being the youngest of the family I ran the errands for my mum, so they were places often visited. Another business we often used was Oakley’s hardware shop in Montague Place, where the seemingly stern Mr Oakley in his beret, boiler suit and leather belt would sell us gallons of Esso Blue paraffin for our heaters. I couldn’t hazard a guess how much paraffin we got through in that winter of 1962-63.
The old bus garage
Just down the road on the same side was a scrap yard, it had been an old bus garage I think. A small man in a black jacket and trilby would push his hand cart around the streets of Kemp Town collecting scrap items from the houses to take back to the yard. I can recall many memories from this much changed area, the pubs like the Star in the East, the Eastern Hotel and the Horse and Groom.
The church they couldn’t knock down
There was All Souls church on Eastern Road, which was such a solid building they couldn’t knock it down. The coal yards of Kemp Town Station and the industrial buildings just south were always an adventure. This was where Parsons the tarpaulin makers and Setyres had premises. There was also a business that threw out off cuts of wood, which I would then collect for kindling to start our coal fires in the guest house.
Moving to Hove
We only stayed in the ‘Carol Ann Guest House’ for about three years before we moved to a restaurant in Hove, which my mother ran. My father went to work for ITT Creed in Hollingbury. Carol went to work at Harris’s drapers in St James’s Street, then later at the Elms Restaurant at the General Hospital. Susan went to work at British Home Stores in Western Road, and then later she was a children’s nanny for a doctor and his family in New York, USA.
Moving back to Kemp Town
My parents eventually sold the Hove restaurant and brought a house back in Kemp Town. My mother, Marjory went on to work for the Brighton Home Help Department caring for some of the old people of Kemp Town, and after retiring, worked on the deli counter for Mr Webb at Webb stores. Myself, after having a tough education at Queens Park Secondary School, served an apprenticeship at Kearney & Trecker in Hollingbury and have been employed in engineering ever since.
I now work in Medical Physics for the N.H.S. Looking back I don’t think I could have thanked my now deceased parents enough for making the decision to leave Birmingham and move to this wonderful south coast holiday town, which has given our family both employment and enjoyment for nearly all of our lives.