'That's me old china cat! '

During the construction of the original My Brighton exhibit, Brighton’s free newpaper – the Brighton and Hove Leader – ran a series of articles appealing for information about Brighton mysteries. Here’s the Leader article about the Old Steine cat:

George Taylor comes clean!
George Taylor has finally let the cat out of the bag and revealed the truth about the familiar feline high on the wall of a building at Brighton’s Old Steine. It wasn’t put there as an architect’s trademark, as we were initially led to believe in our recent My Brighton feature. And although many readers were convinced it was a jaguar, because the building used to house the Jaguar car showrooms, they were mistaken. How can we be sure? Because George was the man responsible for setting the hollow china cat into the wall – all of 68 years ago.

That’s my cat
“That’s my cat all right,” said 84-year-old George of Dale Crescent, Brighton. “I was 16 when I worked as an apprentice plumber with the building and jobbing firm Albert Clinch. My immediate boss was Alfie Martin and the pair of us were told by Mr Newman, the showroom proprietor to scare off the birds. We had to drill a hole through the corner of the building and insert an iron grid to support the cat, which was then cemented in.” Mr Taylor remembers the incident like it was yesterday, because he was left high up on the ladder for some 20 minutes holding the cat in position until the cement set. Originally there were also two birds on the window sill, but they attracted so many seagulls and pigeons that the building was soon defaced by all the droppings so they were taken down.

Comments about this page

  • Although George Taylor has told the true story of the cat up the wall, I would like to tell you the version that I heard some years ago. The story goes that a dog was chasing a black cat accross the Old Stiene and the cat ran up the wall to get away, but fell down and the dog caught and killed it. The people who owned the building at the time put a statue of the cat at the height it got to before it fell, as a memorial to the cat.

    By Ron Porter (28/01/2007)
  • I remember the cat up the wall when the building was a car showroom. Great fun and fond memories.

    By Duffy (18/05/2009)
  • As a child in the early sixties I remember sitting on the top deck of the 46 bus (which use to start from the Steine) wondering what that cat was all about.

    By Stuart (14/02/2010)
  • I too remember this cat from when I was a very young child in the 50s but for it to have been there 68 years, it would have been placed there in 1942. Didn’t we have more pressing matters to deal with at that time?

    By Jester (29/06/2010)
  • I noticed the cat a few times but I think they have taken it down now as it no longer seems to be there.  Shame

    By Lucy (13/07/2010)
  • Jester, the article is dated 1994, the cat would have been put up in 1926.

    By Kate Palmer (23/07/2010)
  • Lucy, The black cat is still there! Maybe he popped down for a bowl of milk last time you were passing 🙂

    By Jules (14/01/2011)
  • The cat is still there on Google earth, street view 2018/2019.

    By Lesley Smith (25/10/2019)
  • Could it be a Suffragette Black cat?

    By Kim Dawes (05/11/2019)

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