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In its halcyon days

London Road showing Brighton Labour Club and the Co-operative store just showing on the right of the photograph
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

A shadow of its former self

London Road was my mother’s main shopping destination, and in the fifties and early sixties, it was still sufficiently vibrant to rival Western Road, though later it suffered a severe decline from which it still hasn’t really recovered – probably instigated by the Churchill Square redevelopment. If it wasn’t for the proximity of the Open Market it would probably have suffered even worse. Like Lewes Road, which used to be just as good, it is now just a shadow of its former self as a shopping thoroughfare.

No self service

Fond memories include the original Sainsbury’s – no self service in those days, all done by ladies in turbans; Bellman’s, which was nominally a textiles outlet but which seemed to sell everything including ex-juke box singles which I bought to start my record collection; Bradshaw’s bicycle shop whence came my first real bike, a 19-inch BSA Star Rider, and, just up Ann Street, Needham’s tiny musical instrument shop where I bought my first musical instrument, a Hohner Chrometta 10 harmonica.

A popular stop for the bus

I remember the enormous numbers of passengers who would disembark at the Co-operative store when I was conducting the service 5 bus in 1968. London Road was certainly a popular destination in those halcyon days. On my occasional visits to Brighton from home here in Bath I still stroll along London Road, and invariably pop into the bookshop opposite what was the Co-Operative store – mainly to look out the latest nostalgia publications on the old home town. Thankfully I am rarely disappointed.

Comments about this page

  • I know I’m being a little bit pedantic, but it’s halcyon, not halycon. I agree though, they were halcyon days. Keep up the good work on this wonderful site. Cheers

    Editor’s note: Thanks for picking up the typo Eric.

    By Eric Cook (16/01/2013)
  • Lewes Road is actually undergoing a bit of a revival these days in spite of the dreaded ‘recession’. There is a new set of independent coffee shops recently opened, an excellent Turkish grocers and an excellent Turkish restaurant; a Chinese food store has just opened near the Gyratory and for a few years there has been a proper ‘Mr Meat’ type butchers on the east side. A local artist shows her paintings in another shop and the Co-op food store has just been re-vamped. So not all gloom then…

    By Geoffrey Mead (16/01/2013)
  • Can anyone remember a shop that just made bicycle wheels in Ann Street, Brighton in the fifties, near the music shop. Thank you.

    By Ray Vincent (16/03/2014)
  • The bicycle shop in Bakers Street was Strudewicks. l remember I bought a knobbly tyre for my track bike there fit 14/6d.

    By Mick Cowley (18/03/2014)
  • Senile dementia strikes again! Strudwicks was in Oxford Street and the shop in Bakers St was Champions. I think  they must have gone on to selling prams etc as I can remember buying my eldest sons buggy in there  for £12.


    By Mick Cowley (20/03/2014)
  • The bicycle wheel shop was in Ann Street not Oxford Street. And only made wheels. What was the name of the shop? I think it changed to Needhams Music shop.

    By Ray Vincent (21/03/2014)
  • I used to run a 3 piece band that played at both London Road and Elm Grove Labour Clubs around 1953.

    By Barrie Searle (05/02/2018)

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