Sainsbury's in the 1920s and 1950s

My great grandfather Charles Blaker owned a chain of grocery shops in Brighton, the main one being at 24 St James’s Street. He sold this to Sainsbury’s and they opened their store on 8th February 1922.

On the first photo, by looking above the store you will notice that in the 1920’s this had another floor above, probably two. But the next photo shows that by the 1950’s it was a single storey building. Whatever happened to the other floors? Did it have something to do with the war?

Shop c1920's
From the private collection of Josie Campbell
Shop c1950's
From the private collection of Josie Campbell

Comments about this page

  • The photo of Sainsbury’s in St. James Street in the 50s brought back memories of shopping with my mum. One of the things that fascinated me at the time was the women patting the butter with those little wooden bats, and the lines left on the butter. They always wore their white headscarves in a sort of turban as my mum did, it was the fashion at the time I think. I did notice in the photo the trolley bus wires. What number trolley bus used St. James Street in the 50s, was it the number 42 or 42a that then turned left into Upper Rock Gardens?. That was when St. James Street was a two way street.

    Mick Peirson.

    By Mick Peirson (23/03/2007)
  • The 42 was a circular route and was worked in both directions: Brighton Station – North Road – Grand Parade – St. James’s Street – Upper Rock Gardens – Egremont Place – Queen’s Park Road – Elm Grove – Union Road – Viaduct Road – New England Road – Seven Dials – Brighton Station.

    The 41 was also a circular route in both directions, but was a subset of the 42 going via Richmond Terrace and Grand Parade to St James’s Street after coming down Elm Grove.

    By Brian Dungate (27/03/2007)
  • St. James’s Street was a trolleybus extension beyond the previous tram system. The two routes using St. James’s Street commenced on the 1st September 1939 and ceased on 25th March 1959. Four new routes started as 10-minute frequencies at that time, with route 41: Aquarium/Elm Grove/Queens Park Road/St James’s St; and route 42: Brighton Station/Dials/Open Market/Elm Grove/Queens Park/St James’s/Steine.

    By Gordon Dinnage (Transport/Picture Publisher) (28/03/2007)
  • My Dad used to work in Sainsbury’s in St. James’s Street as a butcher – his name was Reg Hardy. He left Sainbury’s to work on the buses as a conductor.

    By Marian Mansfield (01/04/2007)
  • I can’t remember the St James’s Street Sainsbury’s but I worked at 55 London Road branch. I have fond memories using my butter pats to weigh out 1/4 ounce of butter to a regular customer. In St James’s Street there was a great hot pie shop that sold savoury and fruit pies.

    By Ann Allsop (20/02/2008)
  • I can remember Sainsbury’s as a child in the early 70’s. My Mum used go into the deli bit which you had to go down steps to get to from the main grocery shop. We as kids had to stay outside with the pram. We would look in and see the ladies patting butter, cutting cheese and slicing meats. There were big marble counters too. If only supermarkets looked back, I am sure the trudge round these places would be more pleasurable. But London Road shopping and the open market is more appealing.

    By Sean Carvil (23/06/2009)
  • I worked in this Sainsbury’s in the late ’50s. You used to have to go to Blackfriars in London to train for two weeks. After a short while I left to get married and lived in London for two years.

    By Joyce Blackman (08/01/2010)
  • Hi, just wondering if anyone knows the name of shop that sold carpets up St James Street during the 1840s? I am studying the story of John Lawrence and Henry Solomon, and it would be fantastic to know all the little details.

    By Mariaria (01/02/2012)
  • My mum Betty Boaks worked in Sainsburys st James Street, Brighton from 1956 to 1959 where she met my dad Roy Pate. My dad was a butcher and my mum worked on the butter counter. Does anyone remember them?

    By Mandy Crew (21/03/2014)
  • Hello to all those who have made comments about Sainsbury’s in St. James. Street. 

    Hello Mandy, I worked with Betty Boakes and Roy Pate. I played darts with Roy. I met my wife there, Jean Denney. We were married for over 30 years. I hope one or both are still alive. We are all a bit older in the tooth now. What a lovely meeting we could have, eh? I got moved out to George Street after I returned from military service. I left after about 8 years and had a wonderful exciting life. Love to get in touch again – a long time since the 1950s. From David Rowland, author and researcher.

    By David Rowland (30/08/2016)
  • David, we are extremely sorry but due to data protection restrictions we cannot print your urgent request for information on the ex-butcher at Sainsbury’s, St. James’ Street. Best wishes, Editing Team

    By David Rowland (30/07/2017)
  • I worked with Roy Pate when I was a butcher’s boy at Sainsbury’s at 55 London Rd. It was a standing joke that Roy  (although Assistant Head Butcher) was always late for work. A colleague Alan James used to say that although Roy joined about a year before him, as he was always late, that Alan had actually worked for JS much longer. Roy was a great gambler and as a 16 year old one of my jobs was to pop along to a local bookies to put bets on various races. I was never asked my age.  Roy was a Woodingdean ‘native’ and he is quoted in the book (the only book) on the suburb- ‘Huns Mere Pit’ by Peter Mercer and Doug Holland.

    By Geoffrey Mead (31/07/2017)
  • Hi, please can anyone remember Sloames Mens Wear shop please. I’m not sure if it was number 86 St James Street.  I’m desperately trying to find my husband’s father. His name was John and he worked there. He was Italian or half Italian. Please say if you remember the shop or any info xx 

    By Suzanne Thayre (18/09/2018)
  • Mick’s comments about the women patting the butter in Sainsbury’s made me smile as I shared this fascination and used to tell my mum that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up.

    By Jane Knapp (nee Bennett) (20/09/2018)
  • My mum Betty Slattery worked in Sainsbury’s St Jamess street. I can remember her cutting cheese and butter on a marble slab , she always had to wear a White net on her hair.
    She loved working there.

    By Ann (22/05/2019)
  • I can remember the cheese and butter counter too. I would have been about 6 or 7. The cheese was cut with a wire and I suppose the butter was too. But then the butter was beaten with a couple of wooden ‘paddles’ to knock it into shape. As I child, I could never seen the point of the latter. I guess it was to make the butter look uniform as a small block for the customer. I remember, as a small child, wishing I could work with both the cheese and the butter preparation.

    By Philip Burnard (25/05/2019)
  • I recall being taken to J. Sainsbury’s in Station Road, Portslade as a boy in the 1950’s. The tiled floor was covered with sawdust, as per the butcher’s shops of the day. The counter tops were always of cold marble. From memory Sainsbury’s sold nothing more than eggs, loose cheddar cheese, loose butter (always salted in those days), tins of baked beans, smoked or unsmoked bacon (by the rasher or by weight) and sàusages (only plain pork were available I believe). The butter was kept in large blocks. The server used to place a sheet of greaseproof paper on the scales before taking a scoop of butter from the block using one of two wooden butter pats. Then the scoop was patted into a half pound block that always seemed to fit perfectly into the greaseproof paper in one go, with no need to add or take away butter. Perhaps weights and measures weren’t quite so important in those days and certainly nobody had the “rights” we all have today! Having placed your order, you would be given a slip of paper showing what you had bought to take to the single payment counter in the far corner of the shop. There you would pay what was due and take your receipt back to the counter to collect your purchases. Nowadays we are trusted to scan our own items and to pày by debit or credit card!!!

    By Alan Phillips (29/05/2019)
  • Can anyone shine any light on the history of 59a St James’s St?

    By Jon (22/06/2019)

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