Memories of the 1950s

In the 1950’s there was a useful range of shops on the west side of London Road in Preston Village.

Beside South Road there were some tea rooms, then Munday’s (a toyshop), Ambrose (tobacconists) and the Preston Bakery. Durrant’s (a sweetshop run by a little old lady) was beside Inskip’s the Chemists, with its large bottles of coloured liquid in the windows. The Post Office (Butler’s) was next, on the corner opposite the Crown and Anchor.

Woodwards the butcher’s was beside the Belgravia Dairy, and was a traditional butcher’s shop with sawdust on the floor and hanging carcasses. The proprietor usually wore a straw hat, and all the staff wore aprons. The shop’s bill heads were printed with a picture of a Southdown sheep.

Between the pub and Teetgen’s the Grocers (on the corner opposite Brittains Garage), there was an assortment of shops, including Dorothy’s (haberdashery), Braybons the buiders and the Belgravia Dairy (eventually taken over by Holes and Davigdor).

Brittain’s Garage had a large showroom, and I remember the shocking pink millionth Morris Minor on display there. My Grandma bought a new Morris Oxford there in 1954 – PCD 444. It was sold after she died in 1970 with only about 16,000 miles on the clock.

Comments about this page

  • My dad was the landlord of the Crown and Anchor for about seven or eight years in the 1960s. At that time some of the shops mentioned were still going under the same names, although some had changed. The most memorable was Ambrose (the tobacconist) where tobacco from all over the place was on display and for sale in a variety of glass jars.

    By Ian MacFarlane (02/02/2003)
  • The one millionth Minor was never sold to the public, it has done the rounds of the motor museums though. I believe the author of Memories: ‘a useful range of shops’ is referring to a ‘Minor million’ of which 500 were produced. Essentially Morris Minors but with 1,000,000 on the back instead of 1,000 and also painted lilac.

    By Daniel Harris (25/11/2004)
  • My family owned and ran the Preston Bakery from 1900 to mid 1960s. I would appreciate news of usage since then.

    By Peter Clark (14/04/2005)
  • A photo of Brittains garage appears on the MG Y type Look under ‘Reprints & Collectibles’ then go to 1950-53 and select September 1950 issue of ‘Motoring’.

    By David Mullen (20/11/2006)
  • Born in Jan 1947 I spent my whole life in Preston untill my marrage in 1967. I lived with my family father Fred, mother Vera, brother Fred and sister Pat. We at first lived at 47 North Road then moved to 46 Middle road.
    Dad worked on the railway and mum did odd jobs cleaning round the village. Both my brother and I did paper rounds for Mr Newington who owned the postoffice at the bottom of North road ,Butchers round for first Mr Ambler and later Mr Baker and chemist round Wed & Sat for Inskips.As kids we were able to run free ( no child can do this today ) We spent summer holidays camping in the field at the back of Cherry woods, War games in Snakey Lane . Football in Preston Park was a one goal affair , the park keeper stopped us from putting down four piles of coats as goal posts. We had to play with one goal, unfair as the football teams played with two. We could not work it out how he did it but every where we went Basil the local policeman (who married Joyce from the post office )was keeping an eye on us kids.
    Everone knew everone in the village and looked out for each other, a true community built over hundreds of year Having left over 40 years ago it’s still home. memories fade but not these names. Still I remember, Mrs Clark and her BSA motor bike , Mr & Mrs Blake, the Daws Family Reeves / Rose/ Marchant /Old Pop Baldwin and his boat the Lady Betty and many more. Too many to list here.
    Happy Times.

    By John Allam (21/03/2007)
  • My earlier reference to Brittain’s garage referred to the one in Brighton! Apologies for the mistake, but worth viewing anyway for the MG Y type (made 1947-53) car shown!

    By David Mullen (27/04/2009)
  • I and my brothers and sisters lived at No 26 Middle Road and were friendly with the Marchants. Pop Baldwin. etc. We were Michael, Patrick, Brian, Eileen and Sheila. Tough life but happy days sometimes, great village

    By Mike White (17/06/2009)
  • Born in 1954 I grew up in the village and lived at 39 North Road. We lived next door to Mr & Mrs Blake. I remember them so well, we were always helping each other out.  Mrs Daws lived next to them the other side of the little alleyway. They had a big black dog called Prince which I remember I was terrified of. I remember the greengrocers at the top of North Road run by Mr & Mrs Collins. My Nan & Grandad Mr & Mrs Holloway also lived in North Road . My brother Wlliam (known as Billy) born in 1947 was good friends with Les and Ronny Daws. Billy lived in No. 47 which was the little cottage that was at the bottom of the garden of No. 39. I have so many good memories of the village it was so safe with your door key hanging on a string, popping in and out of each others houses; a true community and a happy time. We may not have had a lot and times were hard, but my memories of the village are ones that will never leave me.

    By Chris Groves (21/07/2009)
  • I lived back up South Road under the railway bridge at two Scarborough Road. My memories are of Bill Nick (Nichols) who had a bicycle repair workshop at his house, top end of South Road. Being sent down to the shops, especially Inskips and the Post Office by my mother. Taking the “acumulator” for my dad’s radio to the garage just round the corner to the right at the bottom of South Road. And as I got older – buying loose cigarette tobacco and cigarette papers from Ambrose -I kicked the filthy habit in 1968. Preston Park was a regular place to play games, also the cricket ground and cycle track – when I wasn’t getting up to mischief with my pals up Snakey Lane and in Cherry Woods. During the war just before D-Day there were lots of soldiers in Preston Park and us lads helped loading bullets into into amunition belts – plus a few slipped into our pockets – to open later and have fun with the cordite. Yes indeed they are wonderful memories of a carefree childhood when we could roam free and have fun. No television, no computer games – just good healthy hobbies and making our own outdoor entertainment.

    By David Blackford (06/12/2009)
  • I was interested in the comments about Brittains Garage. My father ordered a new Morris Minor 1000 for a customer at the 1956 Motor Show and it had to come through Brittains as we weren’t agents. However Morris 1000s were in short supply and it was several months before the car arrived, by which time the customer had moved and didn’t want to take delivery, so we kept it for ourselves. It was registered at Brighton TUF145 and we did some 14,000 miles in that little car whilst travelling the South of England from Devon to Kent looking for a pub to buy. When we moved from Brighton the Morris Minor was sold back to Brittains for more than it had cost six months earlier as they were in so much demand and we took a 1935 Austin 10hp BXH9 in part exchange. I still have that registration number! I last saw TUF145 in the back streets of Southampton with one front wing hanging off. I should have tried to buy it back then. With regard to the Morris Oxford mentioned – PCD444- it unfortunately doesn’t seem to exist today, although someone might have transferred the attractive number to something else. Most 444 numbers issued by Brighton about that time went to Wolseley 4/44s. I don’t know exactly how many Morris Millions were made, one correspondent above says 500, but I thought every Morris agent in the country had one at the time, and they do still turn up from time to time. A friend of mine in the Isle of Wight had two of them, the one that the IoW agent had, and one from the Bournemouth agent who took the car to the Island when he retired. That correspondent also mentions the MG ‘Y’ Type; We used to garage one of these for a customer about that time too and they were a lovely little car when new. I well remember the smell of the leather when I was allowed to get it out of the garage when the customer wanted to use it. I also remember Mr Johnstone who made some of his Midget coaches in a workshop at Patcham not too far from where Brittains was, which he ran on a circuit of eight on Brighton Sea Front next to Peter Pan’s Playground.

    By Tim Sargeant (30/12/2009)
  • I live at 1 Millers Road, the black and white house at the bottom of the road. I have been looking into the history of the building and discovered it used to be a grocery store, which I think was called Preston Park Stores? Could anyone give any further information?

    By Michele Parsons (16/01/2012)
  • I still live in Kingsley Road and remember all the original shops in Preston Village. There were lots of places to buy sweets including Mrs Durrant’s in Middle Road, another shop in South Road and one at number 1 Millers Road as well as Boswoods in Robertson Road. I used to work at Boswoods doing up to three paper rounds a day plus Sunday collection of money and delivering cigarettes etc. I remember playing in the cherry tree woods next to the zoo and in Snakey Lane. Lots of time spent in Preston Park and playing out late at night. No TV or computers then! There have been so many changes around the village including the closure of many shops. I hope to move soon to Burgess Hill (where my business is now) and will carry with me fond memories of this area where I have lived for 67 years! And do you know that there are still at least two original adult residents still living in the area – Mrs Herridge and Mrs Edwards.

    By Keith Upton (25/02/2013)
  • I  used to live in Preston Road and went  to  Varndean. One of my best mates was David  Collings and his dad ran a greengrocers round the back of North Road and Middle Road. David  is now a well-known actor and I have tried over  many years to have a chat about old  times, but  alas, you have to go through his agent. Bluey Atkins


    By Harry Atkins (13/02/2014)
  • We lived in Lauriston Road no.12 from 1961 until 2006. I can remember most of the above shops. We knew the Clarks and Mrs Durrant very well and Collins the greengrocers. The only family I can remember from Lauriston Rd were Mr and Mrs Wills and their daughter Marie and grandson Peter also their son Alec.

    By Jo-Ann Bowers nee Schone (29/01/2018)
  • Jo-Ann Bowers nee Schone:

    I was at de La Salle School in the 60s with a Joel Schone and his older brothers Joseph and Jerome. Look at the school picture I have already published on this site. Are you their little sister?

    By Damien Wan (30/01/2018)

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