The Cottage, 111 Church Street

Formerly The Cottage record shop, 111 Church Street, Brighton
Photo by Debbie Lias

I have to start with The Cottage as it remains my favourite second-hand record shop of all time. The premises are still recognisable – it is now a tapas restaurant – and it is with a sense of sadness that I recall the reason why it was more or less forced to close down (see below).

I imagine I first visited The Cottage in about 1974 or so. Back then it also sold singles but these didn’t last long and thereafter the shop only dealt in LPs. I bought literally hundreds of LPs here over a period of years but by the end of the decade the shop had less new stock coming in and I curtailed my visits as a result.

The end came in tragic circumstances when one of the two owners was murdered in Brighton in about 1980 and the shop closed its doors soon after.

[Editor: See also this page for an original watercolour of the shop.]

Comments about this page

  • I used to visit The Cottage record shop (second hand if I recall correctly) in around 1969 – 1972. They had a good selection of second hand progressive music at a time when choice was limited, due to the main shops stocking ‘middle of the road’ music, and the price was high! We had a mono ‘square box’ record player at home with lift-up lid and single built in speaker. My prized collection of progressive music got quite scratched as, unlike today’s gadgets, replaying a track meant manually lifting and resetting the arm, with the danger of scratching the record! Beggars Banquet and the like got a fair hammering! By 1972 I had been at work for 2 years and felt confident that I could purchase a ‘Sony Stereo System’ using a 12 month hire purchase agreement, although my mum had to sign the agreement, which made her worry! After purchasing the new system I sold all my old records at The Cottage, as I couldn’t possibly play them with ‘imperfect sound’. Many of them had special 1st pressing covers like the (almost) 3-D cover on The Stones’ ‘Their Satanic Majesty’s Request’ – probably worth a few bob now! The plan was to then repurchase new and keep in perfect condition. I don’t think I ever replaced them all, although most of them are in my mum’s loft, still in good condition!

    By Peter Groves (14/10/2008)
  • I have fond memories of the Cottage record shop and shopped there regularly in the 1970s. There was always an excellent selection of classical music LPs and box sets, some of which I still have. The owners were knowledgeable and friendly and I recall my shock on hearing that one of them had been murdered.

    By Trevor Harvey (15/10/2008)
  • The Cottage is where I came musically of age. In the mid 1970s I must have bought every Black Sabbath, UFO and Hawkwind LP they had in the shop at one time or another (and also Jo Jo Gunn’s ‘Run Run Run’ 45 when they dabbled in singles). A truly great second-hand record shop which I am sure initiated and enriched many people’s musical knowledge and listening experiences. Much missed. There ought to be a blue plaque on the site.

    By Paul Martin (07/05/2009)
  • The Cottage was the best second hand record shop in a time when the town had a number of excellent ones. The jazz, soul and blues sections were always full of extremely interesting records and I bought many which I still have. I still think of that place as The Cottage and hadn’t realised it had been closed for nearly 30 years now.

    By Chris Nichols (10/11/2009)
  • I also used to be a Cottage habitue in the early 70s. Apart from the range of stuff on offer, what I remember most was that, although people were just beginning to realise the value of rare records, the prices weren’t silly. In fact, I used to use it a bit like a library – buying albums that looked interesting and selling them back at a slight loss. I’m sure I’ve still got some albums I bought from there too.

    By Steve Baxter (10/11/2009)
  • ‘The Cottage’ for a music mad youth was like a second home. I used to go there on a Saturday with my dad in the early 70s after he had finished the Saturday morning shift and then, a bit later on, I spent endless hours of my late teens thumbing through the racks which were refilled on a day-to-day basis. The owners were good blokes who, despite looking like your middle-aged uncle, were always friendly to us naive hairy hippies. I once had the privilege of going into the back ‘storeroom’ where the new, second-hand, arrivals were stored to have a quick look through. To my enormous surprise the storage consisted simply of an old bath, in the middle of the floor of the very small room. It was filled from end-to-end with vinyl LPs. I met people in that shop, through a mutual love of music, who I still see today over 30 years later. It was a dreadfully sad day when I read in the Argus that one of the proprietors was stabbed to death while out walking his dog! I think the other owner died not long afterwards. It’s still ‘The Cottage’ to me; it always will be. Happy days which will never be forgotten.

    By Kevin Cooke (17/12/2009)
  • I also loved the ambience there and my chums and I would congregate almost every Saturday afternoon during 1973. We knew Dave Smith the ‘Saturday boy’ and one of the owners felt we were distracting him from his work and lobbed us out. This was responded to with a strawberry pie being thrown in his direction the following week. We were all peace-loving hippies but got out of hand sometimes. I got fined £10 in a juvenile court. It’s my only brush with the law.

    By Steve Andrews (21/02/2011)
  • Steve Andrews’ account of the flan-throwing incident brought back memories, as I was standing outside at the time! I remember we all “legged it” afterwards. Unfortunately second-hand CD shops don’t have the same ambience as the old record shops in North Laine!

    By John Wilkin (16/05/2011)
  • I recall picking up the original import version of “Phallus Dei” by Amon Duul 2 with the creepy occult-style reverse image design by guitarist Chris Karrer for about £1 in The Cottage in about 1973. I regret selling it, like many others, in places like ‘Across The Tracks’. When I sold my vinyl ‘Space Ritual’ by Hawkwind, complete with all the inserts etc. the guys commented that very few Hawkwind fans kept their albums in such good nick because they were always tearing up the card for roaches! Not cockroaches.

    By Steve Andrews (14/07/2011)
  • Like many of the contributors to this page, I have vivid and fond memories of buying and selling records at ‘The Cottage’; although I suspect that I bought far more there than I ever sold. And, like others, if I confess to being a lifelong vinyl addict, it will hardly come as a surprise if I also tell you that I still own many of those albums and listen to them whenever possible. I suppose that, at one time, ‘The Cottage’ was the only place in Brighton where an impecunious school boy like me could afford to satisfy his obsessive craving for the black stuff; the shop’s owners (who I think were brothers) offered you a fair price for your unwanted LP’s, never overcharged you on your purchases and were always ready with a friendly exhortation to ‘bring it back’ if it was in any way damaged beyond what a cursory visual inspection in the shop could reveal. I too remember the murder, which occurred in Powis Square or thereabouts, probably because it was the first time that what would now be called a homophobic hate crime had happened to someone I knew. I don’t recall anyone ever being apprehended, still less charged with the offence. Perhaps no-one ever was… For a short time the shop continued to be managed by the surviving brother who was helped on occasion by a very dapper chap with a superb goatee and who looked a bit like the young Thomas Beecham.

    By David Roberts (06/02/2012)
  • That really did bring back some memories, as I recall spending a lot of my time and money in the cottage. Sad it went as it was such a great place. I heard about the murder but thought it was a rumour.

    By Mike Peckett (04/06/2012)
  • I used The Cottage a lot. Built almost my entire back catalogue of Zappa albums from there, including some fairly rare pressings too. By a horrible coincidence, I was a witness to the murder … and the culprit was caught and sentenced. I had to appear in Lewes Crown Court. Pretty scared I was…

    By Marc Turner (28/02/2013)
  • I too spent a lot of money at The Cottage – bought most of the Zappa back-catalogue there. I once had a whole load of albums stolen from my flat, and a few weeks later was able to buy a lot of them back from The Cottage – they had my name written inside! Regarding the murder of the proprietor, I was unfortunately a witness to it. I can tell you that the police caught the guy and he was sent down for life at Lewes Crown Court – I had to stand up and give a statement. As far as I recall, the motive wasn’t homophobia – the perp was some nutter from London who went on a stabbing rampage starting out from the station.

    By Marc Turner (01/03/2013)
  • I still miss the shop. It was a veritable goldmine. I remember giving Don (the owner) a ‘wants’ list and within a week he had located most of them (including a mint Nazz album) He kept his stock in a bathtub out the back. He also had a marked section with imperfect vinyl which these days would be claimed as mint and the prices were well fair (£1.60 for mint £1.30 for marked). Before Don and his brother took over, the first owner sold posters ( I still have the Pink Floyd Saville theatre) and soft porn mags at the back. It was a tragedy what happened to Don’s brother and Don seemed to have nothing but bad luck then after. Unlike the second hand shops today they were decent and fair. The best second hand record shop ever (anyone remember Royce Radio in Trafalgar Street?).

    By Mark Harris (22/09/2014)
  • I remember Royce Radio. I got a Sounds Orchestral LP there many years ago. The guy who owned it had no filing system at all -  there were piles and piles of records everywhere, you just had to wade through them.


    By John Mansell (06/11/2016)
  • There was also another record shop where the Cottage was, maybe it was the same shop but a different owner. His name was Terry  – I am sure it went under One o’Seven Records and there was also one in Sydney Street owned by two other gay guys but I can’t remember the name of that one, but it always had lots of soundtracks etc. Also anyone remember Wickham  Kimber and Oakley in George Street, Hove?


    By John Mansell (06/11/2016)
  • I have only just seen the comment about One o Seven records which I do not remember. Having just perused the fascinating and astonishingly detailed Kellys Directory from 1971 I note this shop was at 107 Church Road so more or less next door to The Cottage rather than at the same location.

    By John Lias (01/08/2018)
  • Oh yes, I remember this place well. This was my source for vinyl – affordable as a foreign student reading OND at Brighton Technical Coll. 1975-77.

    By niza zain (27/12/2019)
  • I’m glad to find this page. I have very fond memories of the shop, which was responsible for some landmark purchases for me as a teenager. It was certainly still in existence in 1982.

    By Justin Dyer (17/04/2020)
  • A follow up. My diary entry for 13 Feb 1982 says The Cottage was closed that day as the owner had died. Don’t know if that was the murder or the other brother. On the same day I visited The Eye in the Pyramid. All single LPs 1.99 that day! Not listed here and I’d forgotten it. Maybe someone else remembers. Would have been in or near Sidney Street. The Brighton Bookshop, round there, was also a favourite haunt for 2nd hand records. Bought Eno’s Another Green World there that day.

    By Justin Dyer (19/04/2020)
  • Another follow-up re- The Cottage. I’ve just found a diary entry for 7 July 1983: ‘Sad news, the Cottage has closed down – a little chunk of my life gone.’ So that closes the book on that shop’s lifetime. I have also since found answers re. The Eye in the Pyramid and The Brighton Bookshop at this site:

    By Justin Dyer (07/05/2020)
  • The original ‘Cottage’ record shop was a tiny shop up a narrow lane off Middle Street. It later was a cafe/restaurent including the 2nd floor above the old record shop.
    (reading this back I’m now uncertain that the record shop name was The Cottage. The subsequent Cafe was that name I think?)
    From 1969 when I was 15 myself and friends from Southwick/Shoreham caught the train into Brighton just to go to this record shop and hang out. They were always playing music through the speakers in the shop, but also had 2 pairs of headphones for customers. They didn’t seem to mind at all us going in and listening to the latest underground groups without purchasing anything except the odd can of coke which was a novelty. We had so little money as young teenagers.
    Anyway it only lasted a short time, maybe a couple of years.
    Then the old Regent Cinema became Virgin Records and that was a good thing too!

    By Mike Parsons (30/07/2021)

Add a comment about this page

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