Photos and articles about Brighton and Hove in the time of coronavirus. See our collection and add your own!

Weekend job at the Old Vienna Cafe

Mrs Brown’s apple strudel

We used to live on Long Hill Road, Ovingdean and I had a weekend job in the Old Vienna Cafe in the early 1970s until it closed. I served the customers and washed up in the kitchen at the back. Mrs Brown made the most wonderful apple strudel. I remember watching her roll out the filo pastry and telling me that when you could read newspaper print through it, it was thin enough. She taught me how to make real milky coffee with a cup of milk brought to the boil in a small milk pan.

Geese on guard

She had geese running loose when the cafe was closed; she said they were better than guard dogs. She rented out the wooden chalets to single men, some of whom were quite peculiar. One day, one of them ran amok with a large knife and I was told to run to the telephone box at the bottom of Ainsworth Avenue and call for the police. That was great excitement for Ovingdean, luckily no-one was hurt. We lived in Ovingdean until 1976, I loved it there, surrounded by the fields and downs, with the beach on your doorstep, yet near to the town of Brighton. Such a good place to grow up, I was very lucky.

The Old Vienna Cafe
From the private collection of Jennifer Drury

Comments about this page

  • I used to go for long walks over to Ovingdean with my parents and sister on some Sunday afternoons and remember stopping off in a little cafe in Ovingdean. My mum used to buy us a Vienese Whirl cake. I can’t remember where it was though. Was it after the church, just on the bend. Great photo by the way.

    Editor’s note: Hi Andy – yes the Vienna Cafe was on the bend – it was demolished and a very posh house built on the site. Next door was ‘The Rectory’ – which is still there – then there were some cottage type houses – again still there. St Wulfran’s Church is at the back. You might like to see our section on Ovingdean. Best wishes – Jennifer

    By Andy Mountford (23/12/2012)
  • Thanks Jennifer. I knew it was there at one time. Always try to picture it as I drive through. Thanks for pointing out where it was. Shame its gone. I remember a lady would always put a bowl of cold water down for our dog. Happy days

    By Andy Mountford (23/12/2012)
  • Mimi Brown was my Mother’s Aunt.
    In the early 60’s my sister and I were, sometimes, sent to the Old Vienna Cafe, for holidays.
    She used to do weekly spiritualist evenings that were well attended, even by ‘celebrities’ of the time.
    I think she was definitely a pioneer in Brighton, being a centre for ‘sexual freedoms’.
    On her death Brighton Council, more or less stole the cafe, demolished it, then put up two luxury houses on the land.
    Thanks for the memory.

    By Robin Marchesi (17/10/2020)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.