Childhood memories of number 45

Sandra and her pram
From the private collection of Sandra Bohtlingk
45 Shaftesbury Road in 2010
Photo by Jennifer Drury
45 Shaftesbury Road in 2010
Photo by Jennifer Drury

My third birthday

This is a photo of myself, Sandra Baldwin, taken at my 3rd birthday standing outside my grandparents’ house where we lived at number 45, Shaftesbury Road. I was hoping we could see more of the street itself and the missing fancy tops to the railings but the photo doesn’t include this detail. Nor does it show a great deal of the street itself. Being my birthday I was the main focus, naturally.

Memory playing tricks

Missing railing tops are a real mystery to me. I was absolutely certain we had beautifully shaped tops and could draw them today if asked to. However I do know the story that they were all taken away for war use so I can’t imagine our house was over-looked. Memory up to it’s tricks again probably.

Night time sounds

I always remember the wide roads and the lovely old trees. No problem in parking outside your own place in those days. Very many pigeons of course and sometimes, in later years when I would return for sleep-overs, I can remember the sounds of the railway not far off. There was a a small station (London Road British Rail) at the top end of the road, and to cap it all the odd owl hooting somewhere in the distance.

Old fashioned house

The house was still quite old fashioned as I grew up and didn’t seem to be in my grandparents’ interest to modernise things. They were older then and retired and my grandmother spent a lot of her time knitting for one or the other of us. There was a small shop very close by where they sold knitting wool and ready made garments. Some of the patterns being quite fancy with lacy effects but no pattern needed. It seemed she could remember how it all went however complicated.

Upstairs with a candle

There was electricty of course, but they were not of modern thinking. Lights didn’t go on till it was almost impossible to see one another across the room, and they still put everything out and went upstairs to bed with a candle. And we are talking into the ’60’s here. I am not even sure if there was hot water in the house but there was a bath in the kitchen so I guess hot water came with it from an old boiler probably.

The basement tenant

The basement was rented by a lady with the same name as my grandmother, Jessie, which I always thought such a lovely name but unusual to have two ladies in the same house. I think it was nice company for my grandmother to have a lady in the house to chat with over tea times. And it was through the basement flat, via an inner stairway, that we went to get to the little garden below.

Watching the neighbours

A lot of meal time was spent wathching the comings and goings of the neighbours and adding a story or two to match the picture of what we thought they might be up to. At the end of the ’60’s my grandparents moved in with my parents and the house was sold to a lady. I often wish I could have had a little peek at the the house after the lady moved in. I am certain it would have transformed to modern times beautifully. It was a very nice house.

Comments about this page

  • Dear Jennifer, Thank you so much for adding up-to-date pictures of my first ever home in Brighton. So I was right about the railing tops, they were still there all the time – well, some of them at least. Now why would they take only half of them. And why didn’t they at least take every other one so as to keep some sort of pattern going? I am sure someone out there will know something. Do tell if you know more. Greetings, Sandra.

    By Sandra (10/06/2010)
  • I lived in Clyde Road from 1948 to 1963. I worked for A A G Smith who ran the corner store (Shaftesbury Road / Clyde Road) previously Mr Barbers, shades of “Arkwrights”. When Green Shield stamps first came out in the 50s, Smithy printed his own pink loyalty ones for extra discount. Local competition amongst grocers was fierce then with Lidingtons in Warleigh Road, Burroughs in Gerard Street and Mr ? on Yardley Street. I subsequently lost two close friends from those days, in their teens, Robert Goldin and Nicky Greig, both fondly remembered. My first “X” film at the Duke of York’s was Phantom of the Rue Morgue.

    By Michael Dartnell (30/06/2010)
  • Hello to Michael, I also remember the grocer on the bottom end of Shaftesbury Road adjoining Stanley Road, Mr Harris I believe. I can so remember the old slicing machine and watching the rashers of bacon being personally sliced to the required thickness, and the paper cones that were rolled around the hand before tipping in the two penneth of sweets or similar. Wood floors, I think, and a counter just a bit too high for a young one to see all that went on. Lots of chat about the weather and the odd nod or two over someone else’s situation but in the strictest politeness of course. Grandad always wore a hat so he would naturally have tipped it on his way out as a greeting gesture same as he always did in the street when meeting people he knew. Customs do change, don’t they? As for Phantom of the Rue Morgue…. I had a boyfriend in the beginning of the 60s who would take me to the cinema every Saturday evening after I finished my Saturday, (illegal then), job. He never seemed to ask what I ‘d like to see. He had it all planned already. The latest horror seemed to be his one and only track so I saw quite a few ‘creepies’ back then in a short space of time. He didn’t last long. I had better plans for myself. So thanks for the info of that area, Michael. Which school did you attend, Michael? A Robin ‘someone’ from Clyde Road attended Dorothy Stringer as I did. I would not have thought that was the catchment area for DDS though. If you did I am sure you’ll have seen the huge photo posted in the B&H website. It’s great fun. Best wishes

    By Sandra (18/07/2010)
  • Hello Michael and Sandra, I remember Mr Smiths shop as well as do I Michael but not Sandra. The only Baldwin’s I remember are David who lived near the top of Ditchling Rise and was my boyfriend for a while. I also ‘worked’ in Mr Smith’s shop especially when he was in the back because of his bad shake because he was a Japanese prisoner in the war my Mum told me. It was a shame because I remember him being a kind man. I always remember the broken biscuits he used to serve which I used to love as well as the paper cones for the sweets. I think it used to be nice when gentlemen doffed their hats to people they knew. This for me was equalled when my Dad died several years ago and traffic wardens stopped and took their hat off when we passed in the hearse – a nice gesture. I also remember the Duke of Yorks which was nicknamed the flea pit but used to show some good films there. Thanks for reminding me all of this.

    By Sue Harman (19/07/2010)
  • We must have been “very nearly” neighbours.  My family moved into No. 43 in the early 60s and stayed there for about 10 years.  I walked past the house only a few weeks ago and was astonished to see that the house number in the window over the front door was still the one that my dad stuck there.  I don’t remember a Mrs Baldwin though.  There was a woman with two grown up sons, one who was Terry.  I think they ran an antique business – there was always a Transit full of furniture outside.  And, yes, Mr Smith the grocer on the corner.  Always running up there for a Mothers Pride, or six eggs.  There was a fish and chip shop next to Smiths, and about once a month we’d have a treat there.  A great place to grow up.  Walking to school (Downs), we’d cross the footbridge by London Road station and stand there as the steam engines thundered by underneath our feet.

    By Marc Turner (02/11/2014)
  • Hallo Marc.  45, Shaftesbury Road was my grandparents home. Their name was Ransom. I only lived there when I was born in 1946 till I was 3 years old in ’49. So maybe you remember the Ransoms who lived there probably till about 1969?

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (03/11/2014)
  • By the way, the Mr Smith I remember ran the food shop on the corner of Shaftesbury Road and Stanley Road. I do remember another shop further along on the corner of Shaftesbury and Clyde. Maybe Mr Smith had moved along there by the time you moved into Shaftesbury?

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (03/11/2014)
  • Hi Sandra, I’m afraid I don’t remember the Ransoms but then I was at an age when I knew all the neighbours as “Auntie This” and “Uncle That”.  
    I don’t remember a shop on the corner of Shaftesbury and Clyde – but I do remember a funny triangular house that probably had been a shop in the past.  There were railings outside that we would swing on. I walked down Shaftesbury a few weeks ago – the first time in 40 years – it was a bit run down and tatty in places, but still full of memories and happy times.  

    By Marc Turner (05/11/2014)
  • Good heavens! I lived in 45 in the early 2000’s with my three children, we moved from Florence Road after my husband died…I painted that door blue with some paint from Greece and the big numbers were from Conran in Fulham! I left in 2006 and moved to Cornwall, then London and then Seville. I’m now back in Brighton, hoping to buy a house.Thank you so much for this.

    By elaine kingett (13/02/2024)

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