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Our daily shopping area

Rosling's premises, 27/31 London Road at the time of the sale of the business, August 1960. Rosling's were here for 55 years. The premises were then empty for 5 years until it re-opened as the Woolworth Store in 1965.
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Our daily shopping area

From 1949-1982 I lived in Dyke Road Drive just north of the viaduct, so London Road was one of our daily shopping areas; Western Rd was only for the ‘Big Shop’ on Saturday. Bradshaws was where you could look in the long side window at the rows of yellow boxed Dinky toys, as well as the bikes in the main shop. Next to Mitchell’s paint shop was a little garden in Rose Hill Terrace, where there was a model village.

The man with the toffee hammer

Ah! fantastic memories of the sweet shop near the Co-op, liquorice wood to shred with your teeth for days, honeycomb and hard toffee the man broke up with a metal silvery hammer. The pork butchers, Harrison’s was next door, and along the street Dawkins Forge at the Open Market.

My first Saturday job

My first job as a Saturday boy was at Sainsbury’s 55 London Rd near the Branch Tavern. I started as an egg boy, graduating to a cheese boy, but never making the dizzy heights of grocery boy which was the top dept, as I retrained as a butcher’s boy. Behind the branch on the corner of Providence Place and York Hill, was the Dolphin Cafe where the Sainsbury workers bought lovely crusty and floury cheese rolls. Further along on the west side was the army surplus stores where I used to buy camping equipment for Scout camp, and down that side was Rosling’s store.

A Christmas surprise

I saw a lovely toy fort in Rosling’s one Christmas. It was too dear to buy, but my mum asked a teenager called Paul, who lived in our road, to make one as a surprise. It was built like…a fort! You could stand on it. I had it for 20 years before giving it to the Royal Alexander Children’s Hospital. At the back of London Road there was someone with Rhodesian Ridgeback hounds which, as a butcher’s boy, I used to feed scraps to from the backdoor. Public Health Officers where were you?

Comments about this page

  • Geoffrey, can you say where exactly Roslings was situated in London Road? Mike Peirson.

    By Mick Peirson (24/02/2013)
  • Hi Mick, Roslings was on the western side of London Road, midway between Ann Street and York Hill.

    By Andy Grant (25/02/2013)
  • Roslings was at 27-31 London Road, it became FW Woolworth, see picture above. Only the name on the facia changed, although it was curious that Woolworths did not think it would look better if they centred the long name on the front of the building! It was always off-centre. After Woolworth’s closure it has become a 99p store.

    By Geoffrey Mead (25/02/2013)
  • I always thought Woolworths took up the whole corner spot. Did it also take on the shop to the left of the picture then? It’s curious how the memory works. I had no recall of Roslings being that far down nor of it’s turning into Woolworths. I’d have said they were both there in the years as I grew up. Woolworths was there long before the date shown under the picture. I remember certain things I bought there as a young child. By ’65 I was planning my marriage not buying toys. Something doesn’t fit.

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (25/02/2013)
  • The picture above was taken approximately at the bottom of Oxford Street and I believe ‘Roslings’ only occupied probably 27-29 London Road. It looks like the shops to the right of ‘Roslings’ were demolished to make way for the right hand side of the new ‘Woolworths’ store. The right hand side of the centre part of the building was added so it was symmetrical. If you stand opposite now you can see a slight difference in the colour of the masonry on the right hand side.

    By Paul Clarkson (26/02/2013)
  • Sandra, Woolworths WAS on a corner, but at Cheapside; the building you remember was erected in 1927 to replace the former ‘Crystal Palace Bazaar’. Woolworths moved out late 1960s(?) and the site was acquired by Sainsburys to build a supermarket next to their original (1905) branch at 3 London Road. FWW moved north to the Roslings building after that. Paul, the street numbering I included above was taken from Pikes 1936 Directory.

    By Geoffrey Mead (26/02/2013)
  • Does anyone remember Marks and Spencer being next to Sainsburys? I worked there in the late 60s and it was a very different place to work. We had a great canteen and our own onsite staff hairdressers. I used to have my hair put up in curls one week and taken down and redone the next week. I left to travel to Canada. We had great social events. I would love to hear from anyone else who worked there.

    By Laine (26/02/2013)
  • Geoff, I wasn’t doubting your numbering as 27-31 is correct but only after Woolworths moved along to the store. Rosling’s only occupied about two thirrds of the site that Woolworths eventually moved into. I think that the two shops in the picture to the right of Rosling’s look like they have ‘sold’ signs so I can only imagine that they were acquired in readiness for the new extension to the store.

    By Paul Clarkson (27/02/2013)
  • I worked at M&S from April 1977 until it closed in 1986 when I was moved up to Western Road. I stayed with M&S for 27 years. My best mate at London Road was Ron Hobden, a very long serving warehouseman, I think he did 42 years. I was there on the day we closed and saw the famous clock removed, it went to the Oxford store and it is still there near Oxford Westgate. London Road declined sharply immediately after, so that now it is almost Skid Row with a myriad of street drinkers, beggars and general down and outs. What was once my childhood daily shopping street is now a wasteland of pound stores and charity shops with no police presence and daily infringements of many laws. Last week I phoned the police on two successive days to report gangs of street drinkers sitting and drinking super strong lager outside the Co-op food store, the Co-op management did not want to know in spite of their having security guards and the drinking taking place under the overhang on their property. Have I turned into Mr Angry… or what?!

    By Geoffrey Mead (27/02/2013)
  • I know exactly what you mean about how the streets have changed Geoffrey. It is not only Brighton, where I live on the Romney Marsh last Monday I saw a teenage dad walking along with his baby in a pram. I thought about how proud I was when I pushed my kids in their pram. It was only spoilt by the sight of the lad drinking from a can of beer as he was walking along. That was about 10am. I am an angry old man sometimes as I remember how different it was.

    By Mick Peirson (28/02/2013)
  • I worked at Woolworths London Road as a stockroom boy when I was 16 years old in 1973/74. One of the ladies who worked on the shop floor told us that there was a ghost in the first floor stockroom. She had seen it a few times and apparently when she was explaining what the ghost looked like to one of her colleagues it became clear that the ghostly lady was wearing a ‘Rosling’s’ uniform (the previous occupants of the store)! I was not bothered about it myself as at 16 you tend to be a bit fearless but one of the stockroom lads (not named of course!) didn’t hold back and said it was a load of twaddle. The joke was on him of course because this was in 1973 and we had the power cuts that year and one afternoon around 5pm all the lights went out, it was winter time so the whole stockroom fell into darkness. I couldn’t believe it when my non-believing colleague nearly pulled my arm out of its socket by grabbing me saying ‘Paul, Paul, what if we see the ghost!!’.

    By Paul Clarkson (28/02/2013)
  • I worked at Sussex Farm products when I was 16 in 1973-74. Rod Laver owned 3 shops in London Rd. A pork shop which I worked at, and a Deli, which were at the entrance to the Old open market, and a Beef shop which was located in Bakers Street. Our rivals in the day were Dewhurst Butchers just across the roar next to Woolworths. There used to be a Pub where the Ladbrokes shop is now called the Elephant and Castle. I also run my own business in London Rd a few doors away from the old Blockbusters store. I sold up about 8 years ago. It was called JK Trade-in. I remember when I was about 10 going shopping into the open Market with my Mum, and then on to Sainsbury’s in London Rd to do the weekly shop, all for about £3.

    By Jozef Kis (08/01/2015)
  • Geoffrey,I worked at Sainsburys 3 London Rd about 1959/1963. The manager at the time was Mr Brains. I remember Woolworths on the corner of Cheapside and Marks and Spencers next door. Bellmans was almost opposite.

    By Brenda Patrick /Mells (12/08/2015)
  • Hi.  My grandparents ran Harrison’s Butchers until their retirement.  They were Albert and Doris Tregenza.  I still have a few carrier bags in my cupboard.  They lived in Richmond Road and were both Brighton born and bred, as was my mother.

    By Suzanne Maidment (16/02/2016)
  • My Father George Holmwood, worked at Harrisons with Albert and Dot until they retired. I remember being taken to their house in Richmond Road when I was a boy.

    By Brian Holmwood (08/12/2016)
  • Geoffrey. I think the Woolworths name was centred above the middle row of ground floor shop windows.  The ground floor was not symmetrical because of an additional private entrance on the right hand (northern) end, whereas the first and second floors were. That’s my possible explanation anyway!

    By Alan Hobden (12/12/2016)
  • I am researching the family history of my late grandmother, Daisy Rosling. I find that one source states that Rosling’s Outfitters was started in 1905 at no 31 LONDON Rd, expanding to no’s 27 and 29 in 1932, when a new building presumably replaced the old Victorian shop. Another source states no 37 was a branch of Rosling’s the draper’s from 1920-35. These two pieces of information seem to conflict one another. And can anyone suuply me with the name of the 1905 Rosling who started this shop? I am trying to establish that he was my great-grandfather’s first cousin. My great-grandfather, Alfred Ernest Rosling,was married to Catherine Emma Rosling, who owned the Arlington.

    By Ina Lawson (11/07/2021)

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