One of the first Virgin stores
The original Virgin Records shop which was where Boots is now, was not the first in the country. The first store was in Oxford Street, above a shoe shop at the Marble Arch end. But the Brighton store was one of the first, opening around 1973. The building was curved and on the corner – the main shop a three quarter circle with a further semi-circle on a raised level behind, covered in cushions and headphones. Previously the building was an automatic sandwich shop. Everything was served from dispensing machines; we used to be fascinated by it when I was a kid.
Hundreds of bootleg albums
People used to sprawl around the shop all day. and there was a fair sprinkling of ‘residents’. Some of the original staff moved on to Richard Branson’s recording studio and then offices – ‘The Manor’ – I think it was. The best bit about the back of the shop was the bootleg albums, there were hundreds of them. Virgin moved up to a small shop on the left of Queen’s Road some years later, and then to Western Road after that. I’ve still got a copy of the ‘Farewell Virgin’ record shaped invite I did for their closing party in the summer of 1977.
A ‘dodgy’ downstairs pub
The farewell party was held in the house I was renting in Walsingham Road, Hove, in the days when Steve was manager. Incidentally, the block which was demolished for Boots, also housed a dodgy downstairs pub next door – was it The Standard? They had a constant fight with the council over drag nights and strippers. Of course there was the Regent Cinema and Ballroom.
Do you remember?
Do you remember the Virgin Records shop? What records did you buy there? What about the ‘dodgy’ pub – do you remember that? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.