Motor car showrooms built 1926

Taken in late 1950s, at that time the building was owned by Hartley & Midgley, main Ford dealers for Brighton and Hove.
From the private collection of Christopher Wrapson
The building photographed in 2013
Photo by Tony Mould

Click on the images to open a larger version in a new window. Click again to further enlarge.

A building ahead of its time

The building here stands in the south west corner of the Old Steine. It was built c1860, but its original purpose seems unclear. In 1926 the building was converted into a motor car showroom; the upper level was connected by a large commercial lift. The huge picture windows gave an impression that the building was ahead of its time. I believe the original owner was a Mr Newman who had interests in the motor trade. Over the years many prestige marques such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Bristol, Lagonda, Alvis, and Jowett could be seen on display there. For a time in the 1960s, Moors of Brighton who were Jaguar/Triumph main dealers occupied the site. The photograph here dates from the late 1950s, at that time the building was owned by Hartley & Midgley, main Ford dealers for Brighton and Hove.

Endeavour Motor Company in 1960s

In the early 1960s this business was renamed the Endeavour Motor Company. The shiny new cars on display in the showroom are Ford Mk 2 Zodiac/Zephyr and Consul. The Adelphi Hotel on the left became part of the Royal Albion Hotel in 1963/64. The Royal York buildings are on the right. The building behind is the Savoy Cinema; sandwiched in between is the Pool Valley Bus Station. In that era you could travel in a smart comfortable Southdown bus to all corners of Sussex and beyond. Southdown’s pleasing apple green and cream livery seemed to blend perfectly with the rolling South Downs that the bus company took its name from.

Many changes over the years

Taking centre stage in the photo is a black ceramic cat attached to the corner of the building. The cat and the reason why it is there is well documented elsewhere on this site. Royal Albion Hotel is now a shadow of its former self, the Adelphi Hotel and the splendid Savoy Cinema are long gone, together with all those lovely Southdown buses and their friendly staff.The car showroom lost its stylish picture windows decades ago and is now converted into a nondescript multi occupancy office block named Lace House. On a happier note the old china cat is still attached to the corner of the building. Speaking as a 70 year old born and bred Brightonian, and still a resident, the cat makes me smile. Long may it remain.      

Comments about this page

  • I remember the motor showrooms. As a child, I always wondered how they got the cars up to the top floor! Despite the major changes to this building, it’s rather nice to see the black cat still climbing precariously up the wall! And, just to date this picture a little more precisely, the Savoy is showing “The Law and Jake Wade” which was made in 1958.

    By Janet Beal (15/07/2013)
  • I worked for Hartley & Midgley at the Kingsway garage but this for a while still kept its name even though the company was renamed the Endeavour Motor Co. I well remember this building in the Steine of course – it had a large car lift to hoist the vehicles up to the upper floors.

    By Dennis Fielder (15/07/2013)
  • The lion’s still on the hotel balcony too!

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (16/07/2013)
  • I’ve noticed that the cat has been removed and that the building is being redecorated. I hope that after all this time the cat will be put back in its original place.

    By Derek Lake (19/07/2013)
  • Sorry Derek, you’re wrong, the cat is still there :)  I saw it today 19/07/2013.

    By Christopher Wrapson (19/07/2013)
  • In case anyone is interested in the cars parked in the first photo above, these are: Vauxhall Velox, June 1954. Ford Anglia 1172cc, July 1956. Austin 12hp, Feb 1939. Jaguar 2.4 Mk 1, Jan 1958. Sunbeam Talbot 90 MkII, July 1951. Humber Hawk, Oct 1955  (this used the same engine as the Sunbeam Talbot next to it), Morris Minor 803cc, Dec 1955. Riley mid 1934, looks like a 12hp, Adelphi, maybe – all the way from Belfast! The Scooter, (Vespa / Lambretta?) dates from Nov 1957 and the motor bike at the end is from May 1958. As a comment, I thought Moore’s were in there before Hartley & Midgley as their successors, Endeavour Motor Co, continued in business long after Moore’s had gone. Of course I may be wrong but I well remember there being up-market cars there in the fifties and watching them being taken up to the first floor in that lift while waiting for the Southdown out to my grandmother’s in Worthing, which I mentioned somewhere else on the site. I remember the name Newman’s but I can’t remember where their garage was or what they were agents for, unless this was their only premises at one time. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone who can tell us now as all the ‘old Brighton’ motor traders seem to have passed on. We had a brand new Morris Minor 1000 in May 1957 registered with a Brighton number TUF145. It had been ordered at the 1956 Motor Show especially for a customer but by the time it arrived some seven months later she didn’t want it, so we kept it for ourselves for a few months selling it back into the trade to Brittains about six months later for a premium!

    By Tim Sargeant (23/07/2013)
  • In comparison with neighbouring buildings the car showroom is a relatively modern addition to the Old Steine, built in the mid 1920s but on the site of a very old previous building. The new showroom was first shown occupied in 1925 by J Carlish & Co; but George Newman & Co who also owned garage premises at 45 / 47 Jubilee Street had taken over by 1927. It is to be assumed that the showroom was closed during the years of WW2. After the war Newman’s again were in residence until 1958 / 59. However, by 1959 Hartley & Midgley were listed at that address, renamed Endeavour Motor Company in 1961. For a while the showroom was to become the base for the Endeavour Ford fleet of hire cars. By 1966 Moore’s of Brighton who were Jaguar / Triumph dealers had taken over the showroom and were still listed as being there in 1974. The building was converted into its present state sometime between the mid 1970s / late 1980s? Nowadays the building appears to be permanently shrouded with a tacky builder’s hoarding, and sadly hardly worth a second glance, save for the curious aforementioned black cat attached to one corner of the building.

    By Christopher George Wrapson (16/08/2013)
  • Just going back to the cat, it was put up on the corner of the building for Jack Whitehead, Sales Director, who was a cat lover.

    By Laurie Evans (01/11/2013)
  • Moores were indeed selling Jaguars in 1952 as my Jaguar XK120 came from them. Bill Connell ran the franchise and with Tommy Wisdom sponsored Sir Stirling Moss with his first C Type drive. My car is LUF964 of 1952. Does anyone know what happened to Bill Cannell or where he went to?

    By Roger Marriage (19/01/2014)
  • I’m glad I found these photos – I have a 1954 upright Ford Popular (which I’ve owned for 40 years). On the dashboard is the original Hartley and Midgley advertising sticker. It was this that made me search the website for information concerning the dealership. The showroom was certainly eye catching!

    By Chris Tombs (24/06/2014)
  • I was pleased to find this article and have some of the details in my blog post about Moores of Brighton:

    By Stephen Weblin (19/02/2017)
  • I went by the building last week and it looked like the cat had been removed  - there was scaffolding up, so not a clear view. Do hope it is retained. 

    By Helen (18/08/2017)

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