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Putting 6d in my savings

Oxford Street in 1974
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Lived near Preston Circus

Being brought up near Preston Circus, I certainly remember London Road as the main shopping centre for us. Western Road was only usually for Christmas shopping, or special events. I can remember trailing along behind my Mum as she went from shop to shop to pick up what she needed. I cannot have been very old. My sister was in a push chair, so this would have been early 1960s. The Post Office in Oxford Street was a regular halt, as was the TSB a little further up. That was where I paid in my 6d a week with my little red book.

Sainsbury’s was pristine

I remember going into Sainsbury’s for butter and eggs. It was a pristine, white tiled shop, with lots of men in aprons serving behind the counters. And of course, the Open Market to my eyes it had bazaar like colours and smells. Here Mum would always call in at Ovett’s fish stall for smoked haddock. Obviously, the Co-op and Woolworth’s were major destinations. I especially loved A.A. Baker which was just before the Co-op. They sold sports goods and toys and best of all, fireworks in November.

Changing times

I’m saddened to hear about the demolition of the Co-op and the general decay around London Road. It was a thriving, buzzing place ‘when I were a lad’. But I suppose it is reflecting the world’s desire to shop in huge soulless sheds with massive car parks, out of town. Shame, but … life goes on.

Comments about this page

  • ..indeed, and London Road is undergoing a major revival. The Co-op department store lay empty and neglected for years, now gone except for the facade – it will soon be home to 350 Sussex Uni postgrad students. The Open Market, rescued from years of decline will reopen as a clean, modern market by the end of 2013, once again a hub for local food and craft stalls. The Level has been transformed into a stunning park for everybody. The problems of street drinkers are being sorted out. So the area is once again a safe, pleasant area to shop or spend some time over coffee or a drink. The Duke of Yorks, Emporium Theatre and cafe-bar, Onca Gallery, One Eyed Jacks and the Phoenix Gallery make this stretch an important part of the city’s cultural offer.

    By Chris Gull (03/10/2013)
  • Well – the comment above reads more like someone trying to ‘sell’ the area -rather than someone who lives around there and uses it. Are we talking about the same place Chris? 350 students – postgrad or not – how does that contribute? Sorry but the jury is still out in this neck of the woods.

    By Jo Bennett (03/10/2013)
  • London Road these days is a world away from what it was like in the 70s and before. It was a thriving retail area with loads of great shops and it was sad to see it go into decline. I suppose times change and we have to change with it but I’m with Jo Bennett on this one, if you’re not a student then I believe in a couple of years there will be nothing of interest along London Road. Chris is right to be positive about it but for older Brightonians it is fabulous to have all the memories that Marc Turner has written on this page but sad when you see what has replaced it. I too remember TSB in Oxford Street when it first opened. I have been a customer since 1964 when they came to the school on a weekly basis and I would put a shilling in my account. In the early 60s my Nan used to go into a little shop/office just up from TSB to pay the insurance to a man called Mr Hamblett, I can still see him now sitting behind his desk!

    By Paul Clarkson (04/10/2013)
  • It’s a bit too late to make this comment but.. wouldn’t it have been better to have used the old Co-Op site for the Keep (the records office which has been newly built at Falmer). Then they could have housed the students  at Falmer (where they’ve built the Keep), next to their University.

    By Jan HIll (24/01/2014)
  • That Mr Hamblett was either my father or grandfather. Haven’t seen the front of the building since the business closed in about 1972. It had altered since Hamblett & Nye were there. Would love to hear from anyone who has memories.

    By Ray Hamblett (24/01/2014)
  • 21/22 was an Outfitters, called Hamblett and Nye. Mostly dresses, coats, suits, shirts, shoes. and stuff in drawers that i didn’t get to see very much. There was a credit purchase system, so people could spread the cost and they could pay each week either at the shop or a roundsman, such as my father, would collect from their homes.
    The property was the grey walled building which is divided into two units. The business used both sides, the larger window was a display window. Where the sign says ‘Oxford Restaurant’ was the main entrance. The front is different in the picture, the door being on the other side of window which was not full length originally. The outside was dark painted, the half window on the left was opaque. Inside the shop was dimly lit. As you came in the door the serving counter ran from front to back of the shop, adjacent to the window was the accounts dept.
    The management office was at the back of the right side building. where my G’dad or Mr Nye worked from. I don’t think the upstairs rooms were used, but perhaps another office was upstairs.

    By Ray Hamblett (25/01/2014)
  • Does no-one remember Pips ice cream shop in Oxford St, run by the sweetest Italian couple you could find? My sisters and I lived in Ann St and always went there when we had pennies.

    By Arthur Cork (29/03/2017)
  • There are lots of messages about Pip’s ices on different bits of this site, it has always generated a deal of delightful reminiscence.

    By Geoffrey Mead (30/03/2017)
  • Hello Arthur, there is an entire page dedicated to Pip’s icecream here: If the link doesn’t work just tap in Pip’s iceceam in the textbox in the top right-hand corner of the website’s home page.

    By Helen (30/03/2017)

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