Teddy boys and Elvis Presley

Paris cinema New Road awaiting demolition in 1963
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Thirty two cinemas

In the 1950s I used to go to the Gaiety Cinema; nearby there was a little cafe by the viaduct which used to sell the most delicious bread pudding at 1d a slice. Other cinemas I went to were the Arcadia, the Astoria (near the Telephone Exchange), Paris, Essoldo. At one time there were thirty two cinemas in Brighton and Hove. You were certainly never spoiled for choice in what films you wanted to see.

My new school

In 1950 I went to the new Stanmer Secondary School. The Headmaster was Mr Hobart, and teachers included Miss Cauderoy, Mr White, and Mr Lovell. I left there in 1954. Some pupils I remember were Maurice Glanville, David Richie and Pauline Nye. Sorry there were lots of other friends, but I am afraid that my memory is letting me down at the moment.

Elvis who?

I remember going to a music store near the Clock Tower – not sure of the name now. To listen to music we used to pick out the latest record, and go into a booth to listen to it. I bought Elvis ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ there and took it home put it on my Dansette recorder player. My Dad came in from work and said “Who’s that ?”, “Elvis Presley, Dad”, “Hhump! He won’t last five minutes!”. Oh ye of little faith. I have memories of the Teddy Boys and the cafes in Queens Road. Rock ‘n’ Roll was here and the world was changing fast.

Do you have any 1950s memories? Please share them with us by posting a comment below

Comments about this page

  • I remember the ’50s very well. I also went to Stanmer school about the same time. I was born John Mears and remember Rodney Fiest how player for England boys, others I remember are Tony Hubbard,who I believe now lives in Australia and Peter Packam – or was it Brian, like you the memory is not what it used to be. The Regent Dance Hall and the Aquarium were places I remember going, plus the Paris Lounge in the old Ice Stadium. 

    By John Deacon (03/08/2015)

    Is Brighton what it was, you ask?

    Yes, it lives up to it’s name

    But everything changes, even mountain ranges

    Can’t forever stay the same. 

    Brighton was mine in ’55

    From The Dukes to the Palace Pier

    The memories of war were fading

    And there was no cold-war fear.

     I was fifteen, and thought, like James Dean,

    That nobody understood.

    My only connection was music

    Rock ‘n’ roll was the neighbourhood.

     In the dark old Whisky a Go Go

    Smelling of coffee and sweat

    For us there was no tomorrow

    As we shared a cigarette.

    A joy there was in dancing

    Call it bopping or, ‘Come on, let’s jive.’

    The Little Chef was calling

    With it’s jukebox in ’55.

    My Lurex suit from Burton’s

    In the sun would make you dizzy

    We Teddy Boys of Brighton Rock,

    The Belvedere and Gizzi’s.

    The Brighton slums were still there

    Before they built the towers

    I knew my way round Boston Street

    And felt those streets were ours.

    The coppers took backhanders

    This everybody knew

    But one day in ’57 saw them busted

    The lock-up was overdue.

    Country folks would get a call

    From cheeky knocker boys

    Your Chippendale is out the door

    ‘fore you can make a noise.

    We couldn’t afford taxis

    We rode a trolley bus

    Sometimes when the pole would slip

    There’d be an awful fuss.

    Tommy Steele at the Hippodrome

    There was jiving in the street

    Merrydown from the Cider Bar

    The Tin Hut once a week.

    I came alive in ’55

    And it happened in Be Right On

    I was Brighton then, you see

    I came and I’ll soon be gone.

    Brighton’s not mine anymore, my friends

    It’s over to you, my brother

    Look after her and be kind

    ‘There’ll never be another!’


    By Ian Tracy (26/09/2017)

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