From paraffin to an Oxo cube!

42 Elder Street was a three storey house with a basement, over which was a grating; we used to look up from this to see the weather and watch people walking over it. The house was cool in summer, cosy without the need of central heating in winter.

The Railway Viaduct across Argyle Road could be seen as we played in the street, we often watched the steam trains go over it. From the top front bedroom we could see the railway workshops and paint shed, where they repaired and painted the old steam engines. From the back top window, you could see the fish and chips being prepared in the rear of ‘Bostock’, the fish shop.

At the other end of the street (York Hill) was a blind merchants, called ‘Wilmhurst’, where they made all types of blind; and a little general store called ‘Baldock’ just round the corner; in York Hill itself was a paper and sweet shop called ‘Croydon’. There was a Public House on the corner (New England Road end) called the ‘Old Hoss’ two doors from us; I think it was originally called the ‘Old Horse’. Between the gap of the fish and chip shop and the butchers, we could see Preston Circus fire station and hear the big brass bell clang when the fire engines went out.

At one place about half way along the street, on the top side, there was a very small general shop, selling anything from a gallon of paraffin to a half penny Oxo cube; further along an old Public House was con­verted to a house, by the side of which was a gate cum door. Children, myself in­cluded, slipped through to Elder Row if we wanted to dodge someone. On the upper corner, New England Road end, we had a tiny barber’s shop, a watch and clock maker’s shop; some of these people were also part-time firemen.

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  • Your mention of ‘Bostock’ has opened a lot of memories, but first a bit of history. In1861 my great grandmother Hannah Jane Highfield just 3 yrs old and lived with her mother Mary Ann Highfield at 23 Elder St. By the age of 13, she was working as a servant girl in Streatham, London. She later returned to Brighton and married George Ford from Bishopstone. After several addresses by 1901, they moved to 13 Marshalls Row, where the open market is now. My father Leonard Packham, their grandson, married my mother Doris Ellen Young in 1939 and lived with her mother in 43 Argyle Rd, I was born in 1940. Because of the war, I was 5 before seeing my father for the first time! He was in Malta and Italy, then back to Bostock’s, I remember it well. My mother would take me there and two things stick in my memory, the lovely smell and the incredible hight of the counter as I was only small. We would also go to the butchers for our rations and the floor between the door and counter was covered in sawdust and like any small boy could not resist making tramlines everywhere! On the opposite side of the road, between Cambell and Argyle Roads was a row of small shops, I can’t remember which one, but we used to take our ‘Accumilators’ there (lead acid batteries) to be recharged for the wireless! The houses only had gas in those days. One shop there I remember well was the green grocers. Apart from the daily visit for veg we would once or twice a year take a chicken from our back garden to the grocer who would wring its neck for us, mum did not have the heart to do it! I vagely remember my mum holding me up to see the first train going over the viaduct after it had been rebuilt following a bomb hit that brought down one of the piers. I can remember diving into the bomb shelter in the basement front room every time the sirens sounded or a doodle bug flew over, those were the days! In 1950 we moved to Patcham and what luxury, a bathroom and toilet, no more tin baths with the water shared between four of us, no more walking down the garden to the loo but still only one coal fire to heat the house like Argyle Rd. There was one other improvement, the house in Argyle, being three stories high, with large rooms and the coal fire in the basement, the frost in winter was on both sides of the window. In Patcham, a smaller two floor house, the frost stayed on the outside!

    By Ralph Packham (09/05/2007)
  • My grandmother, Mary Sullivan, lived at No. 8 Elder Street in the 50s. Her married name was Baldwin. My dad, George Sullivan, was her son from her first partner. I remember visiting the house and there being no electricity upstairs, and there was a dark basement where the washing was hung to dry. It was very dark and creepy. Mary and her husband, Leslie, had daughters Maureen, Marie and Eileen and a son Leslie.

    By Jan Sinkfield (15/08/2008)
  • Can anyone tell me – was Argyle Road once Argyle Street in 1901 as my great grandparents lived in Argyle Street, I do beleive it was 43. Their names were James Thompsett born Laughton, Sussex, and Julia Thompsett born 1875 Brighton, Sussex. William Thompsett born 1894 Brighton, Nora Thompsett born 1897 Brighton Sussex. Julia’s parents Lodging John Moon born Hurst Green 1831 and Ellen Moon (McCarthy) born Cork. Norah Moon born Brighton Sussex 1865 (Julia’s sister). Has anyone any photos of this street they would be so kind to send me or are you connected to this family? Thank you.

    By Jan GIbson (10/01/2011)
  • My Great Great Grandfather William Whitlock and his wife Eleanor Whitlock nee Gearing (born in Brighton about 1830) lived at 39 Elder Street in 1871, and when William Died in 1878, it seems that Eleanor mover to 40 Elder Street for a while and was still there at the time of the 1881 cenus. If anyone has any knowledge of them, please email me at

    By Mike Honour (25/04/2011)
  • In the 1950s, until 1954, when we left for Canada, I was your just-turned-nine next-door neighbor at 44 Elder St. What has happened to it since? There seems nothing on Google Street View.

    By Michael Price (29/06/2011)
  • Hello Michael Price. I used to chat to a girl from Elder Street during the early 1950s who told me she would be going to Canada. I can’t recall her name, would she possibly be your relative? I lived in the White Hart pub at the time.

    By Barrie Searle (29/08/2011)
  • I was born in 20 Elder Street in 1945. I remember Leslie Baldwin in number 8. Would like to hear from anyone from this time.

    By Alan Cribb (25/09/2012)
  • My Grandfather lived at no.26 Elder street for a long time up until the1950s. My mother was born there and lived there until she got married,she also had a sister who also lived there until her death in 1954.My grandfathers name was James Franklin,my mothers name was Rosina and her sisters name was Lillian.I remember going to the house when I was young and there was a factory in Elder place behind the house and they used to stamp out washers etc on large presses,the house used to shake with the vibration. At night there was quite a lot of noise from the station shunting goods trucks around. I think it used to keep grandad company as he was a widower for many years.

    By Peter Hall (12/05/2020)
  • Hi, Alan Cribb, would you be the Alan Cribb that lived next door to the Anscombes?? I lived at number 64.

    By Doug Matthews (28/08/2020)

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