Gamley's in Church Road

Church Road with Gamley's on the right c1960s
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Deputy manager for a year

The year I spent in 1970 at Gamley’s in Church Road I was a sort of deputy manager, running the lower floor shop which was mainly given over to plastic kits and models. This was a very popular venue for kits at the time, and on some Saturdays prior to Christmas, the trade was amazing. I recall ordering a lot of 200 Air-Fix Saturn Five Rocket kits; of course this was one year after the first Moon landing. I was hauled up before the directors – not so much for the size of the order, but for the fact that the storage of these large kit boxes presented a real problem. I had the last laugh however as all of my Saturn V’s were sold in six weeks and we ran out of stock before Christmas.

The mysterious passage

I got round the storage issue by using a tunnel or passage which ran from the back of a small tea room attached to the rear of the basement shop area. This passage had a rough hewn stone and brick lining. It meandered rather erratically around several bends and evidently well out under the Church Road itself. Off this passage were a number of recesses; we called them dungeons for that was what they felt like. I used my doubtlessly inept electrician’s skills to rig up lighting to the far end of the passage and thus increased the storage area for literally hundreds of Air-Fix and Revell kits. I often wondered what the original purpose of this passage was and would be interested if anyone has an answer.

Do you remember?

Did you shop at Gamley’s? What about those Air-Fix kits – do you remember them? If you can share your memories about this time with us, please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • As I recall there was also a Gamleys in Regents Arcade at the Clock Tower. If you couldn’t get what you wanted there they would refer you to their Church Road branch which seemed like miles away. Always a great Christmas display at both branches. Other notable toy shops – Wicks on Ditchling Road at the back of the market and Ashplants on the London Road.

    By Martin Scrace (29/09/2013)
  • The name Gamleys was thought up by the original proprietor, Bill Lord who wanted to mix the names of the two most famous London Stores ( Gamages and Hamleys ). The head office was in Hove, Late in 2007 and through the first half of 2008 a number of Gamleys stores closed down[1] and in August 2008 rival chain The Entertainer, operator of website purchased the Maidstone and Brighton stores,[2] leaving only the Bromley store which was expected to close on 30 September 2008. After almost 90 years of trading, Gamleys went out of business in 2008.

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (29/09/2013)
  • The leader of our 39th scout troop (Si Rickard, or Tony Woods?) used to work at Gamleys I think – there was some lock up units in the alley behind, where our canoes were stored.

    By Paul Bennett (01/05/2017)
  • My cousin’s godparent was an proprietor of Gamleys in the sixties. My brother loved ashplants and bought many airfix kits there. I loved the dolls hospital, which was a lovely pink shop.

    By Jane (29/10/2018)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *