Mum's favourite shopping spot in the 1950s

Getting the 46 trolley bus

I well remember my Mum getting the 46 trolley bus from Hollingbury to go “Down the London Rd ” to do the shopping two or three times a week. She also went to “The Market” for vegetables, fruit and a bit of haddock (the yellow smoked stuff) which we had with a knob of butter and bread on a Saturday. The Co-op was great, it had vacuum change machines that sent your money into the main office, then a receipt and change would zoom back through the system as if by magic. I still remember my Mums ‘Divi’ number as I was under orders to quote it, when making any purchase as a young man

The heart of Brighton

London Road was the heart of Brighton in the 50s and 60s. I remember Woolworths, Sainsbury’s with its glass topped tins of biscuits, and Bellman’s. There was Bradshaw’s for that new bike at £27.00 for my rich pal Dave. Mine was built from bits from the dump and a new tyre from Strudwick’s; it cost 15 shillings I think. The great sweet shop near Mitchell’s sold traditional sweets; monkey nuts, chewing wood, bull’s-eyes, humbugs, cough candy and lots of other wonderful treats. And of course there was Broadmead’s, where I pre ordered Jimi Henrix’s first LP in the late 60s.

A stout in The Northern

Western Road was rarely visited by our family although I remember MacFisheries and Marks and Sparks. My Uncle Frank had a fruit and veg stall in the Open Market which was a great place for produce , I loved the ‘Blind Man’s’ stall, he always knew if anyone was there. Alas today I am sure he would be robbed by the light fingered . I think Mum had the odd stout in ‘The Northern’ where Mrs Hayward was the landlady, before “lugging the heavy bags home”.

Not a McDonalds in sight

On a Saturday I would watch for the 46 bus, then as soon as I saw Mum, run across the ‘Green’ to help her with the shopping. Then she would have a hot cup of tea; she would probably have preferred another stout, but I knew nothing of such things . Those were very happy days. London Road was a great place to visit and shop, and not a McDonalds in sight.

Comments about this page

  • We lived at Pyecombe in the 1950’s and early 1960’s and London Road was our shopping area. As with you Alen we visited all the places you mention as there was probably nothing that couldn’t be bought in the area. My brother and I even had our haircut opposite St Peter’s Church. And yes I remember our Co-op Number too – 58431!

    By Martin White (16/07/2011)
  • I may be wrong but I seem to remember this building became the first supermarket in Brighton

    By Dennis Fielder (02/01/2013)
  • London Road was a fabulous place for shopping in the ’60s & 70’s. There used to be enough shops in those days to cover all your shopping needs. It is a shame about it’s recent past but we can only hope for a recovery. I think the closing of the Marks & Spencers shop was the start of it. I can remember the old Woolworths where Aldi is now with the wooden floorboards and Bellmans where most Brightonians I have spoken to bought their ‘first’ record (I saved up my pocket money and bought ‘Make Love To Me’ by John Leyton for 6s/8d in 1963). Dewhurst the butchers, Curtess shoe shop along with Freeman, Hardy & Willis. A bit further along in York Place there was Carnaby Styles, does anyone remember what number it was? I bought my first pair of levi jeans there in 1971 and sat in the bath with them on so they would shrink to fit me! My parents thought I’d gone mad! I always remember now and again seeing a ben sherman shirt or pair of jeans for a really low price in the window (about 19s/11d) and when you went into the shop they’d say “Sorry sir, none of those in stock today but we have these at £3!!”

    By Paul Clarkson (02/01/2013)
  • During my final year at Margaret Hardy school in 1965 I had a Saturday job at Woolworths – it was on the corner of Cheapside then.I was on the frozen food and cake counter,and my friend Gillian Cooke was on the sweet counter (I think !!)We had some good times there.The canteen served some lovely meals for about 1/3d I think. I remember when Sir Winston Churchill died – his funeral was on a Saturday.The store closed for the morning and a television was brought in so the staff could watch the funeral. I did not stay much longer at Woolworths after it moved further along London Road as I was preparing for my O Levels but we did have some very good times there.

    By Carol Hardy (03/01/2013)
  • Where that man is standing in the doorway in the summer, Woolworths used to sell ice cream and it was the lovely soft ice cream.

    By John Eaton (25/09/2013)
  • Could this Carol Hardy possibly be, by the Grace of God, the same Carol Hardy of BOAC fame, and the sister of Charles Hardy? 

    By Ian Arnott (22/02/2016)

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