Father Christmas: early 1950s
One of the eagerly anticipated events in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s was the arrival of Father Christmas at Wade’s department store in Western Road. This normally happened some six weeks before Christmas. He arrived at Brighton railway station from some grown-up faraway land, journeyed down Queens Road in a horse-drawn carriage, vintage car, or latest American automobile, and then went on to the store in Western Road, where Primark is now established.
The outside of the store was brightly lit with coloured bulbs. These are commonplace now, but brightened those drab times, with the windows full of Christmas tableaux and toys. A visit to Father Christmas in his grotto invariably followed, which was magical to small children. (I later found out that it was a summer vacation job for students at the Art College in Grand Parade to make and paint the scenery and the resident elves and fairies).
From Wade’s a stop was then made at Gamley’s toyshop in the Arcade to see the latest Dinky Toys, Meccano sets, and Hornby trains. We hoped these would be duly delivered on Christmas Eve, as requested to that white bearded man in Wade’s, of whom in all truthfulness we were a little apprehensive.
Present day Christmas is so different and commercial. We only saw new toys on birthdays and at Christmas.