A teenage crush and winkle-picking

19 Rock Street photographed in 2013 | Photo by Tony Mould:click on the image to open a large version in a new window
19 Rock Street photographed in 2013
Photo by Tony Mould:click on the image to open a large version in a new window
'The shops opposite our cottage' | Photo by Tony Mould:click on the image to open a large version in a new window
'The shops opposite our cottage'
Photo by Tony Mould:click on the image to open a large version in a new window

My teenage crush

I was brought up in Kemp Town. I lived at 19 Rock Street on the corner of St Mark’s Street. The shops opposite our cottage were Brown’s, the post office/paper and sweet shop, then the grocers where a young lad named Colin worked and delivered the groceries on his bike with a big wicker basket on the front – I had a crush on him! Then next door was Mr Gibson the chemist with all his lovely big coloured shaped bottles high up on the shelves. He was a Scotsman – ever so nice he was.

Fun with the choir boys

Next to the chemist was St Mark’s Hall where we had our Friday night Teenage Club and the Brownies and Girl Guides meetings on a Tuesday evening. I was made to go to St Marks Church for Communion and Morning Service, and Sunday School there on a Sunday afternoon. I remember that the Reverend James was the vicar. The choir boys were great – a few of us went around together; Vic Faulkener, Micky Penfold, my sister and I.

Celebrity sewing jobs

As a group we all used to go to the Peter Pan’s Playground, and to the roller skating further along. Black Rock swimming pool was also a great place which we loved to visit. When the tide was out we used to scramble over the rocks winkle-picking and walk under the under cliffs. They were great times and we had such fun. I also remember that my mum used to do sewing jobs for Anna Eagle and Peggy Cummings the actresses. I would take the items back to them in Sussex Square and perhaps get a little tip for doing so.

Do you remember?

Do you have memories of Rock Street? Did you go to St Mark’s Hall for the Friday Club? Maybe you live in Rock Street now? If you can share your memories or your views, please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • I used to go to the Scouts in St Mark’s Hall in the early 1950s and later the Youth Club and used to take records there to play on their record player. (Don’t remember it being called The Friday Club though, but it probably was) There were Jumble Sales in the Hall too where I used to buy old wireless sets for half-a-Crown or so, or less, and take them back to my little workshop in the old cellars at our garage in Church Place and try to mend them or dismantle them for the bits.  I also used to be in St Mark’s choir for some time. Later on the girls choir from St Mary’s Hall joined up with us to make up the numbers. Reverend James was a great bloke for a vicar, I last heard of him living down near Bognor and tried to visit him many years ago. We used to borrow a PA system from one of my father’s radio friends, Guy Austen at Central Sussex Radio in Burgess Hill, and set it up for the church Fete in the vicarage garden every year when he was vicar and I used to play records. I suppose I was one of the first DJs! I found some photos of that that too, all built over now as is St Mary’s Hall playing field on the other side of St Mark’s Street. My mother was a photographer, ‘Portraits by Paula’ was her trade name, she did the photo for the front of St Mark’s Parish Magazine. (Has anyone got one of those to spare from about c1953?) I suppose I ought to put some of these pics on the site sometime but last time I tried to send one in it was the wrong size or some such nonsense and then the text to go with it got lost so I got fed up. (Editor please note) I bought the first copy of The Eagle comic with Dan Dare and his side-kick Digby on the front page in Brown’s newsagents. The Eagle was good because it wasn’t just a comic but had very interesting things in it like cutaway drawings of aircraft carriers and the latest jet planes, combine harvesters, racing cars etc. I think I knew the Colin you mention, did he later have a motor bike? A BSA Gold Flash if I remember correctly, he fitted it with a dual seat and gave me the original saddle which I fitted to my Panther 250cc sloper. We had to try the dual seat out so he took me along Madeira Drive and did a ‘ton’! (100mph for the un-educated non-bikers) They had a brand new Ford 8 van which was the first thing I ever drove up at our garage in Church Place where it used to be garaged every night. Findlaters wine merchants had a place a bit further along there somewhere and we used to garage a couple of their vans too. My mother photographed the Gibson family from the chemists shop and I recently came across the negatives. Behind your house in St Mark’s Street was a yard where the Scouts used to keep all their gear, tents and canoes etc. The Scoutmaster was Eric and his ‘underling’ was known as ‘Unk’, I think he was older than Eric. I bought my first car, a 1929 Austin 7 Special from a chap in Rock Grove which is the little street that runs along the back of Chichester Terrace. £5 it was then! I did it up and sold it to Eric the Scoutmaster when we left Brighton in May 1957. There was also, as I’m sure you remember, Webbs the greengrocers just next to the pub and Trethewery’s the fishmongers. Trethewery had a Jowett Javelin I think and later a Standard Vanguard with the then new ‘polychromatic’ paint. Webbs had a Commer 10cwt van, they lived in Woodingdean and Teddy Webb would often take me and my bike back to Woodingdean after lunch when I was at Fitzherbert School there which saved me having to pedal all the way up Wilson Avenue. There was also a little silversmiths shop along there in the front room of a house and I still have the silver pepper and salt set that my mother bought from him. Peter Pan’s was good, especially the ‘flying’ aeroplanes ride but my stamping ground when on the front was Johnstone’s Midget coaches and I spent a lot of time there and at Black Rock pool in the summer and then we would go along to the east under the cliffs and out to the concrete blocks where Volk’s Daddy Long Legs railway had run sixty years earlier. You can still see some of these now beyond the Marina when the tide is out. When you think about it there must have been people about then who could remember it! My grandparents lived in Chesham Road for a while after they sold their house at 41 Sussex Square, and then moved to the Elm Court Hotel in Ringmer which doesn’t exist any more. My mother and father always used to go to the Rock Inn on a Friday night which was a bit more ‘up-market’ than the pub on the other side of the road. There was, or had been a pub on the opposite corner of St Mark’s Street to your house. When my grandfather had the Clarence Garage opposite St Mark’s Church just after WW1, the landlord there bought a car from him and killed someone with it and went to prison. We had a run-in with Anna Neagle once, I think she was a bit neurotic, she kept accusing the local children (including me) of going up her stairs, some of them might have but I certainly didn’t! When my other grandmother was ill and came to stay at out flat over the garage in Church Place I had to go and stay with Mrs Burchell who lived in a basement flat at 11 Lewes Crescent which sounded quite grand but you got into it on the corner of Rock Street just opposite the Rock Inn down some steps. I suppose it was the old tradesmans entrance to the back of the house. Their daughter got married at St Mark’s and I think it was her wedding that my father did a tape recording of. This was then put onto a glass gramophone record as not many people had tape recorders. I think I’ve still got the original tape somewhere!

    By Tim Sargeant (08/11/2013)
  • I remember Rock Street too. I was a newspaper boy at Browns. I well remember the chemist with his big coloured bottles in the window. I also remember getting paid by Mr Brown and going across the road to the greengrocers and buying a bag of cherries every Saturday in the summer. There was also a barber shop near Brown’s where I used to get my hair cut. I think this was all around 1954-56. When did you occupy this area?

    By Tom Paul (09/11/2013)
  • We were certainly there in 1956. (1941 to 1957) You must have delivered our Daily Mail and Motor / Autocar magazines to the Bristol Garage in Church Place? The barber’s shop was Tylers but wasn’t that further along in Chesham Road or St George’s Road near where Findlaters wine merchants were?

    By Tim Sargeant (11/11/2013)

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