Remembering our neighbours

A Christmas greeting from Ron Spicer
From the private collection of Ron Spicer

Our neighbours next door at 32 Newick Road were the Moppetts. ‘Old Moppett’ as he was called, was related to a sweetshop owning family.  He created his own threesome business, using three wheeled barrows which he’d made just wide enough to get through the archway between our two attached houses. He sold chopped firewood, fish, and sweets. Secretly, the stuff would be sold from the house. Running a business from a house without paying business rates was illegal, but nobody cared. Mrs Moppett was a very large beefy woman with threatening breasts and huge folded meaty arms, she always spoke in a very loud commanding voice.

Dixy was a terror
Next to the Moppetts were the Deans. Dixy was a terror! Same age as me, he’d be up to all sorts of mischief – and I often joined him. His family were into anything possible to make money. They made toffee apples and toffee balls and one of them worked at Arthur H Cox’s factory in Lewes Road where, in later years, I discovered there was a large sugar stock.

My first cigarette
At number 24 Newick Road were the Hodges. Ronnie Hodges introduced me to my paper round and how to make a little cash provided the school didn’t find out. He also introduced me to my first cigarette. His mother smoked and often gave him some. It took a few more years for me to fall foul of the stupid, injurious habit which I later discarded when education dictated the necessity.

A friendly family
At number 16 were the Browns. Mr. Brown worked at the Gas Company. Often he had a large Gas Company van parked outside the house for the night. A friendly family with a very large shed in the back garden, they allowed all us local kids to meet together inside it during inclement weather where we could play cards or five stones using pebbles from the beach or anything that could be invented for the occasion. The oldest boy, Tommy a fiery yet friendly lad, became an air gunner during the war and like many aircrew didn’t survive.

Comments about this page

  • When I was a child in Brighton, we lived in St George’s place, just around the corner, in an old shed, was a man who used to make coffins. I would sit for hours watching him; the smell of glue and varnish and the white satin and lace pillows are forever in my memory. In Gloucester Place (or street) there was a little old shop run by Mrs. Mantle, it sold everything and always smelt of parrafin. The Smithy just down from there was a hive of industry, I would watch the flames and see the men hammering the red hot metal to make some sort of springs for cars I think. When the smallpox scare started, I can remember queues of people waiting for their vaccinations. Just along the road from ou house in St George’s Place (opposite St Peter’s Church) there was a cinema and although I am too young to remember what film was on, I can remember that in the foyer, there was a huge cage of monkeys, can anyone else remember this?

    By Sandra Waite nee Newman (01/08/2008)
  • Being Moulsecoomb aware, I’m not quite so well up on some of the other Brighton places – although I do know the locations of course, in particular places like The Level. It may be that another part of the site contains information on such matters as Gloucester Road and Pelham Street? I wish I could help. Anyway, good luck with your queries, Sandra.
    Editor: You can see Gloucester Road here, and Pelham Street here!

    By Ron Spicer (14/08/2008)
  • Hello Ron. My family were the Browns from No. 16 Newick Road. My grandfather Fred worked for the Gas Board and died in 1966. However I must take issue with you over the eldest boy Tommy who was an air gunner in the war. He certainly did survive and became my father in 1954. He eventually moved to Shoreham and died in 1996. All the best though.

    By Glen Brown (16/08/2008)
  • Hello Glen. Thanks for the feedback. Brilliant. I’d like to have met him again long ago. He was a very well known member of the neighbourhood amongst us youngsters and the information I had was passed to me at Eastbourne where I now live by another lad of the district not long after the war ended. I’ll add to my own personal information on Tommy who was not particularly big but always ready to stand up for himself in adverse circumstances, an attribute which kept him many friends including myself. I don’t suppose he mentioned any of the past friends from that period? I’d like to hear if he did.
    Not all the information I posted was eventually placed on the site so I may have another go at including some more parts in the near future because history with all its warts should be preserved. Who knows, some more of my own past may be recalled by somebody.

    By Ron Spicer (18/08/2008)
  • Hello Ron, I would be happy to know more of your personal memories of my father Tom and anything else on my family. I will gladly let you have more info too, photos etc but I would prefer to keep some parts private so my email address is, feel free to email me. By the way the six Brown children in descending age order were; Tom, Doreen, Fred junior, Donald, June and Jeanette, if that brings back memories. Unfortunately only 3 still survive. Incidentally, Fred senior, the Gas man, had a sister Violet who married a George Duckett and lived at 97 Newick Road which was opposite the road that cuts through to the shops in Barcombe Road. I noticed the other day when I drove through Newick Road that Number 16 no longer exists and has become flats.

    By Glen Brown (24/08/2008)
  • Ron was my uncle; sadly he passed away in 1987. His wife Sylvie is still going strong though, as is Eric Hodges. Sadly my Dad, Ben, and his sister, Doris (Haffenden), passed away in 1985 and 1991 respectively. Nellie Hodges (my paternal grandmother) died in 1992 aged 96 – so maybe smoking’s not so bad!

    By Tim Hodges (07/09/2008)
  • Hi Glen, I will email you. Only just returned to the site so rather belated reply. My unashamed comments regarding my own and family circumstances are, I felt, a necessary input to the site in order to record the reality of circumstances and events those years ago. Hidden from view when all suffered similar hardship, the passing of time allows me the feeling of right to unfold those prevailing conditions somewhat. History without the guesswork of later historians!

    By Olespice (23/09/2008)
  • Hi Tim – belated reply to you too. Sorry. Ron was roughly the same age as me. This smoking habit; I’ve had the opportunity through my past occupation to examine the lungs of those who smoked and those who didn’t side by side. To the uninitiated, frightening. My non-smoking mum, Liz died thirty years after dad! (They’re going to show pictures of comparative lungs on cig packets soon).
    I remember Ben, older than Ron. The family lived next door to the Haffendens at nummber 14. Very smart front garden. Those gardens often indicated the wealth of the occupants – and the Hodges garden was also a good one.

    By Ron Spicer (27/09/2008)
  • Ron, my mum has asked me to point out the Hodges were actually at 20 Newick Road. Eric still lives fairly close by.

    By Tim Hodges (30/09/2008)
  • Thanks for that, Tim. Running the houses through my mind brings me to that correct address. The peculiar point is that, between the Hodges family and the Browns I can’t for the life of me remember the surname of the occupants at number 18 yet their dog, a black and white collie type bitch was called Trixie.

    By Ron Spicer (05/10/2008)
  • Ron, 18 was Mr and Mrs Stevens.

    By Tim Hodges (06/10/2008)
  • Ah yes! I hate not being able to remember things, especially names but that’s the way the cookie crumbles as age creeps on. Joy and me, we test each other on a continuing basis in an effort to keep the upper body part at its premium.
    I never knew the occupation of Mr. Stevens. I think we local kids knew Trixie the dog more than we knew the family – and of course, wherever the Brown and Spicer children went, there was Trixie!

    By Ron Spicer (09/10/2008)
  • My grandparents lived at number 6 Newick Road [since demolished to make way for a block of flats]. My granddad Fred Russell was a chimney sweep. My cousin June lived with our grandparents for most of her life, I used to stay at weekends and holidays, I remember our grandma dolly used to be called out in the middle of the night, June said it was to “Lay out” someone who had died.

    By Marlene Hornby (27/11/2008)
  • Hi Ron, further to my recent comment, my cousin June (nee Alfrey) says she believes her second name Sylvie was after your sister who was Lily Alfrey (nee Russell)’s friend. Is Sylvie still living in Brighton? Does she remember my aunt?

    By Marlene Hornby (05/12/2008)
  • Hello Marlene. Sylvia is still alive. Very much so … !  She has been a lively character all her life despite suffering severely from arthritis. Almost resides in a wheelchair yet actively pursues life. Lives in the Chertsey area and before that in Southall, London. In the friendliest way, a bit of a bossy-boots; always wanting to get things done! If there is any inclination to get in touch with her I will assist.
    I well remember Mr. Russell, the chimney sweep. The only one in the whole area. Having the chimney swept was the last thing some would invite because the cost could be used in many other ways. Consequently, when ours was eventually swept, the amount of soot was tremendous. Log fires seemed to create much more caked soot and more easily led to chimney fires. Hardly anyone would have the fire brigade in attendance. The roaring of such an event was bordering on the frightening. It would shake the whole house, accompanied by thick black smoke covering the immediate area followed by greyish smoke and flames, and interesting the many! The secret was to sprinkle water on the fire without allowing it to totally subside but cause steam to penetrate up the chimney. Voila! Following such a happening, Mr. Russell wouldn’t be called upon for some time, the sweeping having been counted as done; but the complete affair was never without an amount of damage as particles of pargeting, the plaster covering of the chimney interior, would fall down into the hearth at the time.  Thanks for the memory jog, Marlene.

    By Ron Spicer (14/12/2008)
  • Hi Ron. Sorry to be so long in replying. I guess you are right about people having the chimney sweep as a last resort, how things have changed over the years.  I have an old photo of my grandad with his bicycle stating ‘chimney sweep’ and his name and address.  June would just like you to ask Sylvia if she remembers her mum Lily Alfree nee Russell.  Sadly Lily died when she was only 42 years old, June can remember her talking about Sylvia.

    By Marlene Hornby (14/02/2009)
  • Hello again, Marlene. I looked in several times. No worry, I’ll get in touch with Sylvia and draw attention to your remarks. The betting is that Sylvia will easily remember. Maybe you will add to the page by placing your pic of granddad together with his bicycle? The moderators are very helpful in that respect. I’ll come back when I’ve spoken to Sylvia.

    By Ron Spicer (19/02/2009)
  • Hi Ron thanks for phone number, I will pass it on to June. sorry about time lapses, I  am not always able to cope with A laptop, I have fibro myelgia and fatigue sydrome, like most health problems some days are better than others. I think I sussed out how to send you a copy of grandad with his bike . Hope it reaches your site ok.

    By Marlene Hornby (01/03/2009)
  • Good on yer Marlene! I wish you well with any problems you have. I’m with you on one or two aches and pains but obviously not as severe.

    By Ron Spicer (03/03/2009)
  • Just come back for a look-in. Thanks for the photo addition, marlene. V.G. I’ve commented on the possible period from memory.

    By Ron Spicer (06/04/2009)
  • Just come back in again … You missed out on the rasperries which always came along prior to the blackberries Barbara! Just as they were diminishing, the blackberries would be almost ready for picking. Sadly, they don’t appear nowadays as they used to – hardly a raspberry to be seen now before those black ones come along. More’s the pity!

    By Ron Spicer (30/08/2009)
  • Hello Glen Brown. I used to go to school with Jeanette Brown. Such a friendly girl, a good athlete/dancer etc. If I remember rightly her family used to go hop picking to Kent every summer. School friends used to envy her because it overlapped the summer holidays allowed at school, and she came back with many stories, and suntan the colour of a beechnut. I have her in my only school photo of 4a in the Juniors.

    By Valerie Woodward (de Fuszard) (04/01/2010)
  • Hello Valerie, Thank you for getting in touch. Next time I speak to my aunty Jeanette I’ll tell her and make sure she sees your comment on here.

    By Glen Brown (13/01/2010)
  • Thanks Glen, I would love to hear from Jeanette, maybe we can chat about old school friends and life since the 50s. I`ve lived in Ayrshire for the past 16 year. but you can`t take the Brighton out of me. My three sons live in various parts of the country so e-mail is a way of keeping in touch, it’s great. Look forward to our contact. If you can explain how to get a photo on this site I have got one of 4a in the juniors to put on.

    By Valerie Woodward de Fuszard (16/01/2010)
  • Hello Valerie I have spoken to Jeanette and she is happy for you to make contact. Did you have an older sister and was your mother the school secretary? If you could email me at I will give you her husband’s email address

    By Glen Brown (29/01/2010)
  • My family lived at 77 Newick Road. Our neighbours were the Barnes, Saunders, English, Virgo, Chinnocks, Emerys and so many more. I would love to here from anyone who knew us.

    By Janice Robinson (12/11/2013)
  • Hi Janice, I lived at number 71, the other end of the block of four houses. I do not recognise your name so perhaps you lived there after I moved away in 1961.

    By Wyn Burgess (10/02/2014)
  • For Marlene (Hornby)  -  Hi Marlene, I  hope you are still well and you are still looking in as I’m very late back here for a further response to you. If June is still around, you can tell her that Sylvia died recently. Her older sister, Bet, has also passed away. That leaves two of us from the family, brother Alf and myself. Have a Happy Xmas and enjoy the New Year.

    By Ron Spicer (20/12/2014)
  • I have just found this site and have been working through the various sections. I notice an entry by Janice Robinson back in 2013 and I am wondering if you are the same Janice Robinson who was friends with Linda Cornford, as was I, and we walked to school together. My parents and I lived at Barcombe Road with my grandparents, Mr & Mrs Shore, and my Mum, Sylvia, worked in the sweetshop at Barcombe Road. Would love to hear from you if you are the same Janice Robinson or anyone who knew my grandparents or my Mum.

    By Julie Adams (04/06/2020)
  • I have just read a message from Julie Adams. yes I remember you from school we were in the same class and I was friends with linda Cornford but have lost touch I remember your mum she was a lovely lady. Where have the years gone? I am a widow and have two children and four gorgeous grandchildren and live in Bognor Regis hope to hear from you Julie.

    By janice matthew nee robinson (13/12/2020)
  • Hello, I hope somebody can help me. I’m trying to gather information about my late grandmother called Joyce Edwards.
    She was born in London but came to Brighton to live with a foster family or adoptive family (not sure which) around 1932.
    This family’s surname was COLLINS and they lived in Newick Road I think.
    Any feedback on this would be wonderful – thank you!

    By Amy (22/08/2022)

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