A haven for bookshops

Photo of second-hand bookshop in Brighton
Image reproduced with permission from Brighton History Centre

Brighton and Hove used to be a haven for bookshops, not just Bredon’s and Beal’s on East Street, Robinson’s in Bond Street and Combridge’s in Church Road Hove, but second-hand bookshops in profusion!

Both Bredon’s and Combridge’s once had separate second-hand (or “antiquarian”) departments, then there was Sexton’s in Ship Street and Holleyman and Treacher’s in Duke Street. Combridge’s even sold some of Pollock’s toy theatre plays as late as 1960!

The manager of Combridge’s second-hand shop set up his own shop, Lane’s, in Blatchington Road Hove, when Combridge’s closed theirs; he specialised in circus books among others. Today’s selection of such shops is meagre and uninspiring by comparison.

Comments about this page

  • The Public House Bookshop on Little Preston Street was a haven for alternative press, fanzines, avant garde jazz recordings and a generally diverse mix of books and publications. It also had a specially illuminated room for microbiotic plants and suchlike. PHB was owned and run by a regular team of two: John Kieffer and an American, Richard, whose surname escapes me. I was a frequent visitor /customer of their shop during my student days in Brighton (1974-1977)and could not believe my luck when I, on one my earliest excursions,located and bought the even then extremely rare first 20 issues of legendary music magazine ‘ZigZag’ for a sum equalling an entire month’s spend on campus refectory food. The PHB was also kind enough to stock and sell my very own homegrown, literally bedsit-produced (six issues in total) fanzine ‘Nostalgia’; which I co-edited with my Sussex University friends Crispin Partdridge and Mark Gresty (he of Brighton-based bands such as the Molesters and the Relatives).

    By Sedat Nemli (18/01/2005)
  • So Sedat, it was you who bought my set of ZigZags! The American was in fact the owner and founder of the shop and his name is Richard Cupidi. He is still as far as I know based in Brighton. (I’ve lost your address Richard). Working in the Public House Bookshop was an amazing experience – my equivalent of going to university. We also used to put on concerts and readings in the tiny basement. They really don’t make them like that anymore.

    By John Kieffer (18/02/2005)
  • I, too, remember Public House bookshop with great affection: that wonderful, blown-up photograph of Richard Cupidi (circa. 1970, I think!) which greeted you – at least when I first went there. Public House was a treasure trove of left/alternative literature – for a while I added to this by taking in a few copies of the ‘Socialist Standard’, journal of the Socialist Party of Great Britain which I got from a Party member who had a news stand on London Road. Memory tells me that I usually took back at the end of the month exactly the same number as I had taken in at the beginning! I lived in Worthing, and so Brighton, and particularly Public House, seemed (and were) wonderful places! Anyway, my best wishes go to all those who used or were connected with Public House, particularly, perhaps, to Richard Cupidi (who I think is working at the University of Brighton) and John Kieffer.

    By Rod Pow (13/10/2005)
  • The Public House Book Shop was a treasure trove of literature and music that was nigh impossible to get anywhere else. Richard and John were knowledgeable about their entire stock and overtly in the areas of the American Indian/mysticism and improvised music respectively. It was also a meeting place and information/publicity point that was particularly valuable to the arts events I was presenting at the time at the Polytechnic and the Contemporary Arts Festivals Festivals that Neil Butler and I organised between 1976 and 1979. We all worked together in 1978 to present an Extended Series of Poetry and Improvised music in 1978, many events taking place in the basement room of the shop. My best to Richard and John -I would love to make contact with both again.

    By Roger Ely (30/11/2006)
  • Richard helped me back in 1974 when I was chasing down what was for me, the blind alley of Western mysticism. He reminded me of my earlier interest in the I Ching and that lead by a roundabout route to the Zen Buddhism that is now the hub of my life. So, Richard, if you’re out there somewhere, a big thank you! Gasho!

    By Steve Mansell (16/12/2006)
  • Yes! The Public House Bookshop was very wonderful indeed and so was the Unicorn Bookshop run by Bill Butler and the same Richard Cupidi who founded PHB. I would love to have any contact with anyone who remembers them.

    By Michael Neal, Village Voice Bookshop - Paris (04/06/2007)
  • I worked at the Unicorn Bookshop in Brighton from 1968-71 with Bill Butler and his partner Michael Hughes (who used to run Drama Books from a room upstairs in the shop). Bill eventually moved to a farm in Wales and continued publishing Unicorn Books. The shop building still stands in Gloucester Road Brighton but I think is something like a solicitors! Sadly, the brilliant surreal exterior of the shop (painted by John Upton) has long been covered over.

    By Patrick Newley (31/10/2007)
  • I have great memories of my hippie days in Brighton . Richard Cupidi gave me my first acid trip, and a crash pad, bless him. I also bought and sold first edition Aleister Crowley books from the PHB. A little Haven of California Sunshine in B Right On. Oh Happy Daze! Thanks Richard

    By Colin King (10/01/2008)
  • Does anyone know why and when the Public House Bookshop closed down?

    By Jade (12/01/2008)
  • Nice to know that people have fond memories of the alternative bookshop culture in Brighton. I occasinally bump into Richard and am reminded that PH was a haven for books on the American Plains Indians. I purchased a rare copy of Seven Arrows from PH. I’m also interested to know whether anybody has or knows of a picture of the Unicorn Bookshop exterior before it was painted over. Perhaps somebody should mention to the architects currently resident there of the significance of John Upton’s painting.

    By Barry P (22/01/2008)
  • There was a large photograph of the exterior of the Unicorn Bookshop (as painted by John Upton) in an issue of Frendz around 1972. Frendz was an underground newspaper along the lines of International Times et al. The issue contained a lengthy interview with Bill Butler about the shop. There is, I believe, a bibliography of books published by the Unicorn Bookshop coming out sometime this year [2008]. Possibly there may be a repro of the Frendz photo in that.

    By Patrick Newley (19/02/2008)
  • John Upton’s daughter here. I read the comment about whether there is a photo of the Unicorn Wall as painted by my Dad. if anyone is interested, I could look through his extensive collection of diaries where he has kept many of his photos.

    By Circe Upton (25/03/2008)
  • John Upton’s diaries must make interesting reading as he was very much around the Unicorn Bookshop in the late 60s and early 70s. He edited a magazine called ‘The Brighton Head and Freak Mag’ which was printed at the Unicorn Bookshop. He might also have witnessed the raid by the local police on the shop in 1968 when they seized much of the stock and Bill Butler was prosecuted for selling ‘obscene’ literature – the literature in question being books and magazines by William Burroughs, John Giorno, Herbert Huncke and others. I think the police also snatched Upton’s Brighton Head and Freak mag.

    By Patrick Newley (29/03/2008)
  • I used to frequent Unicorn when I was a long-haired rebellious fifth form student in about 1969/70. I have fond memories of Bill Butler. He was a very funny guy.
    I went on to take part in various student political activities. We helped distribute the Unicorn edition of The Little Red School Book, and we helped form what I believe was the first school kids’ union. At the time we were being helped by the International Socialists and Brighton Anarchists. I vaguely remember some really nice people from those hazy days.
    Other favourite haunts were Infinity Foods (when it was a tiny shop in somebody’s front room up near the old Ear Nose Throat hospital), The Garden (veggie cafe) up the hill near the Alex Childrens’ Hospital, the little coffee shop in the blind alley off Middle Street where Steve Miller’s ‘My Dark Hour’ was the most popular song on the juke box. God, I wish I could remember the names of all these places.

    By Martin Sinnock (08/07/2008)
  • I was a frequent visitor to Lane’s Bookshop Hove, nice guy, actually I obtained some pretty recondite books through Lane’s: Crowley’s Magic in theory and Practise – The Serpent Power (English/sanskrit) plus many books on Occult and Theosophy. Mr Lane met Crowley in Hove, and yes he was interested in Circus and had an amazing model Circus in the back room. I still have a copy of Psychodelic Review purchased from Unicorn.
    I have a large collection of books on oriental religion etc that have been with me since the 60’s. I really loved browsing the old bookshops in Brighton and Hove. I now live in Wales and don’t vistit Brighton much these days since my Mother died. Things have changed a lot- sadly, not for the better.
    One day many years ago I went to look up Mr Lane but he too had passed away. All my links with the past are disappearing, which I guess is something we all share in common.
    Nostalgic? Absolutely!

    By David Lowen (29/07/2008)
  • I would love to see a picture of the Unicorn wall if one still exists. I only know the new Brighton, having lived here for 7 years, and am interested in how it used to look. The bright yellow and blue paint of the solicitors is crass.

    By Laura (13/10/2008)
  • Could someone please let me know the significance of John Upton’s painting? I wasn’t born until 1980 and so have no idea.

    By Laura (15/10/2008)
  • The whole of the exterior of the Unicorn Bookshop was painted by John Upton in psychedelic colours (this being the sixties) and it was incredibly striking to look at as you came down from the top of Gloucester Road. There was also a painting of a unicorn on a board which swung over the entrance to the shop. The only photograph I know of the exterior of the shop was in the ‘underground’ magazine Frendz around about 1971 when Bill Butler was interviewed about his life and career. I believe there is a book coming out shortly, a bibliography of all the books published by Unicorn Bookshop, which may have the photo of the exterior. Books published by Unicorn included ‘Leaves of Grass-the Hash Cook Book” by Hassan I Sabbah (which was a pen name of Bill Butler’s). The title was suggested by Brighton poet Lee Harwood.

    By Patrick Newley (30/10/2008)
  • I am looking at my copy of ‘Leaves of Grass’ now, never realising that Bill was the author. I have wonderful memories of walking my new born daughter Nicola, in her pram from our home by the Level, up to the Unicorn bookshop in 68/69. She would sit outside on those lovely sunny Brighton days when it was definitely like SF and the shop was one of the hubs of the scene. Bill and Michael would want all of life to be expressed in their world; they were true libertarians and there was such a strong head and alternative scene in the late 60s. Martin Sinnock refers to a little coffee bar off Middle Street, yes I remember ending at The Cottage after a gig well late and just having enough cash to get everyone a coffee and they welcomed us being there! Please post up details of the Unicorn Anthology. Happy days to everyone who remembers it.

    By Barry Coles (08/01/2009)
  • I knew John Upton well and worked at the Unicorn for a short stint. I was one of the Brighton Anarchists who helped you with the school students union, Martin (I still am an anarchist by the way). I have a newspaper cutting of the rally that took place on Fishmarket Hard from the Argus when the Unicorn was busted for obscenity charges.

    By Nick Heath (23/01/2009)
  • Looking back, it’s amazing how many literary names were regular visitors to the Unicorn, many of them friends of Bill Butler’s. William Burroughs, who lived in London in the early seventies, often came down to the shop. Others included Jeff Nuttall, US poet George Dowden (who lived in Brighton), Lee Harwood, Paul Evans, Prof Eric Mottram, plus Allen Ginsberg came a couple of times on his visits to the UK. Allen de Loach also came over from the States and stayed.
    Harry Fainlight turned up out of the blue on several occasions somewhat spaced out. White witch and author Doreen Valiente was a regular and dropped in every Saturday.

    By Patrick Newley (07/02/2009)
  • I’m really pleased that so many people enjoyed the Brighton scene so much. I’ve just begun a tentative survey of the Brighton book trade and would very much like to hear from anyone with any pictures or stories (or newspaper cuttings) about Unicorn or Brooks or George Sexton, Kenny Lane and the dozens of others who have contributed to the never-ending flow of books.

    By John Shire (06/03/2009)
  • Just enjoyed a pleasant half hour reading the thread; as a student in Brighton from 67-70 the bookshops were one of the highlights of the town. The Unicorn was a favourite location and I still have some of the posters I bought from Bill Butler, a very nice guy who sadly died way too young. Like Nick Heath, who I remember well (remember “Nestor Makhno’s Red and Black Army”?!), was involved with the Brighton anarchists. John Upton is another person I remember. There was an active scene at the Brighton Combination, just around the corner from the Cottage in Middle Street (of which also very happy memories) which also provided pointers to which authors were worth checking out at the Unicorn.

    By John Byford (02/04/2009)
  • If anyone would like to contact me directly about all things bookshop related: j.shire@virgin.net

    By John Shire (04/04/2009)
  • I worked at Unicorn in the late 60s, designing book covers and doing a bit of book-keeping and later went off with Bill, Mike and Malcolm to West Wales to carry on an unfortunately short-lived co-operative publishing and self-sufficiency experiment where we printed all our own books, and sat around in the evenings collating and binding them while sipping from liquor of varying strengths, ranging from just passable to ‘what have I done to myself?’ all produced from our own still. I remember those days with great fondness. I would love to know more about the proosed book on Unicorn Bookshop.

    By Tony Bennett (05/04/2009)
  • There was talk of “a full Bill Butler biography” 18 months ago, unfortunately no information for over a year now. Possibly too ambitious ( I presume Tony would have been interviewed if it was the proper full story.) I have been slowly putting a more modest project together over the last few years. A bibliography is nearing completion (around 100 Bill Butler and Unicorn publications.) However this does not include poemcards and posters, both areas where I am woefully short of tracking down copies or detailed, verified, info. I am also trying to find things like the ” Brighton Head and Freak mag” and “Alternative Brighton”. So if anyone can help please contact me (email:- salnterry@yahoo.co.uk). I’m also trying to find a few of the more obscure Unicorn pamphlets / books plus general underground mags of the time. I have researched a fair bit of the general Unicorn info (LSE and a few willing contacts). Although I don’t have any publishing aspirations (it’s been out of interest and fun) if nobody else gets it together…well, you never know. Somebody should do it.

    By Terry Adams (18/04/2009)
  • I remember visiting the Unicorn many times in the mid-Sixties and always enjoyed chatting with Bill. I was one of the millions of poets around at the time.

    By Peter Scott (14/07/2009)
  • Blimey – I did not know of this thread (Jed from USA sent it to me after we met on the Naked Lunch Hommage in Paris last week). I think I have a full set of ‘The Brighton Head and Freak Mag’ (I provided some ‘material’ for sellotaped art on page 3 on issue 5).  Bill provided me the impetus (and printing press) to do my own pirated collation of Mayfair articles by Burroughs. Does anyone remember the small bookshop on 72 North Road which had a hardcopy of Naked Lunch on display for a long time c. 1968? A history of porn shops in Brighton would be interesting…..

    By Roy (17/07/2009)
  • Great to see both John Byford and Tony Bennett posting here. I remember both of you well. I’m still a big fan of Nestor Makhno, by the way, John.

    By Nick Heath (18/07/2009)
  • Another visitor to the Unicorn that I remember, was the science fiction writer Thomas M. Disch, who I think was another friend of Bill Butler.

    By Nick Heath (22/07/2009)
  • Bill Butler was also associated with the IT-sponsored Phun City festival which may be of interest to those of a certain age with a mis-spent youth. Bill Boroughs also attended as did JG Ballard who describes the experience in ‘The Kindness of Women’. On a seperate subject, I would be fascinated if anyone has any information or just a list of Brighton bookshops of all kinds around 1900 in connection with a writer living here at that time whom I am researching. Do those mentioned by Martin Nimmo above go back that far?

    Editor’s note:
    This is a family friendly site. Please do not include links to sites with adult material, they will always be deleted as they have been here.  Thank you.

    By Kieran McCann (30/07/2009)
  • Some bookshops around at the turn of the century include E. North at 30 Church Rd. Hove (mentioned by John Cowper Powys), William Joshua Smith in North Rd. (ditto), James Thorpe of Ship St. (later taken over by George Sexton), the massive Treachers (where Hanningtons used to be) and D. B. Friend in Western Road. There were plenty of others. 72 North Road for instance – please, somebody remember this one. And how about somewhere called Vortex up near Preston Circus that specialised in SF in the early 80s? I’m still working on a history of bookshops.

    By John Shire (30/07/2009)
  • I remember the public house well. A good friend, Bonnie Lateiner, worked there for a while with Richard. I still have a bootleg album of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor that I bought there. Coincidentally, years later, Richard married someone who’d been in my class at Dorothy Stringer school. There was another ‘alternative’ bookshop in Brighton for a while in the 70s. Bonnie also worked there. I’m not thinking of Unicorn but I can’t remember its name. Can anyone remember any others? I just came across this old photo of the Unicorn, recently posted by a contact on Flickr, unfortunately not in colour and not the best quality: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glastonbury1971/3998842361/ So glad I found this site. It’s a great trip down memory lane.

    By Chris Moxey (11/10/2009)
  • I too have very fond memories of staying in the inspiring Public House Bookshop. I did some research (94/95) there as the Native American Educational Trust was based upstairs. I am in touch with a Mohawk community in Harrisburgh and would like to make contact with Richard again to put him in touch with them, as they have asked about him. If anyone can help please contact me liza@euriza.plus.com. Thank you.

    By Liza Ayton (11/11/2009)
  • I have an answer to Chris Moxey’s question about the name of the other alternative bookshop, he may have been thinking of Solstice in Trafalgar Street. Like everyone else here, I loved Public House, Richard was just brilliant too. I was and still am into esoterica ad Richard was an absolute expert. That place was Heaven for me when I was a kid.

    By Kev Hill (26/11/2009)
  • I was a 17 year old living in Brighton for a year, from Canada, and spent many many hours hanging around the Unicorn, in 1979. I had a friend from the school I vaguely attended (Patcham Fawcet) who used to work / volunteer in the shop. He helped type out the Unicorn bootleg version of Dylan’s “Tarantula”. I still have my copy! He was a smart sensitive guy with an acerbic wit as I recall. As for Bill Butler, he was bigger than life. Moody, funny, and great for recommending books that led to my corruption! Thanks always, Bill!

    By Michael McNamara (20/01/2010)
  • Walked past the Unicorn site on New Year’s Eve this year with great memories of 67-70 student days. I would save up my bits of Student Grant (those were the days) to browse for New World sci-fi mags and those wonderful posters with quotes from Ballard – the Crystal World man running I wish I still had (Ebay wru). I remember buying a copy of Ginsburg’s TV Baby Poems and Bill telling me to hang on to it, it would be a classic one day! My Oz/IT collection from there is somewhere in the attic, I think; must get it out soon. There’s nowhere like it anywhere now, and so much the worse for that. Amazon suggestions just don’t do it the same way.

    By Ann Gunning (23/01/2010)
  • I would be interested in any information about an artist who made a psychedelic Beatles poster (black and white drawing) printed in the Unicorn Bookshop Brighton in 1968. I owned this poster that I bought in Tübingen (Germany) in 1968. It is really beautiful and I didn’t know anything about the Unicorn bookshop. It is really fantastic. Please forgive my approximate English. The artist’s name is Richard O’Mahony. Thank you for any information.

    By Wehrung Thomas (08/04/2010)
  • Dear Old Bill Butler, I was growing up in the sixties and he was good enough to befriend me ( my father David was running the bookshop we had in Dyke Road, whilst my grandfather still ran the bookshop in Ship Street). My dad and he were good friends, very different but good buddies – my dad missed him when he went to Wales.

    By Peter Sexton (14/05/2010)
  • Wow. This thread is still active. Does anyone remember the publication Atilla? And a short lived publication called Aphrodite. I remember the Little Red Schoolbook trial.

    By Barry P (18/05/2010)
  • The Public House Bookshop was where I brought my first Native American Indian book. I then became part of the Native American Indian Trust a few years later. I remember once when Richard and I was working on the roof and it rained. Inside the building the ceiling fell on us both. We laughed at each other because we were both covered in dust. That summed up the good energy of the PH Bookshop. If anyone still keeps in contact with people from the trust like Jackie Koomer I would like to say hello to them. aljay.campbell@hotmail.co.uk.

    By Alan J campbell (18/07/2010)
  • A trip down memory lane indeed! I worked at Unicorn from 68 until the move to Wales. Bill loved the fact that I could take shorthand and after the shop closed Mike would cook up a spag. bol. (recipe from the Hasish Cookbook) whilst Bill would dictate poems and letters to me. I spent a lot of time upstairs in the shop typing manuscripts, dealing with mail order stuff but the atmosphere was really buzzing – so much going on. Real fun times when we’d go to festivals selling books and getting stoned – ah happy times. In answer to Wehrung, sadly Richard O’Mahoney died in a caravan fire in Cornwall some years ago, I’m fortunate to have a few of his pictures and John Upton’s and some of Unicorn’s publications including Survival Scrapbooks.

    By Sue Harrison (nee Gibson) (24/08/2010)
  • Hi Jade (12/01/2008) and anybody else who may not be aware, Public House closed in the summer of 2004. I recall going in as an unhappy bullied 14 year-old in 1971 and Richard being very friendly, helpful and unpatronising. We met up as tutors for the WEA in 2003 and I was very honoured when he asked me to help box up for removal/sale the fascinating remaining stock. I was stunned to see a fanzine I had produced in 1977 in perfect nick! A great guy and a great friend.

    By steve andrews (22/02/2011)
  • Many memories of Brighton ’67 – John Upton, Nick Heath, Roy Pennington, many others. For those looking for a picture of Unicorn Books: https://www.ballardian.com/images/unicorn_books.jpg

    By Andrew Maben (07/03/2011)
  • I am trying to get in contact with Mr. John Upton as I am producing a documentary inspired by his 1967 painting ‘Christ’s Entry into Brighton’. If anyone could possibly help me out by sending an email address or telephone number it would really help. Many thanks, Nick Vieira – 07814699071

    By Nick Vieira (09/03/2011)
  • Good to see these mostly fond memories, especially re Bill B, who was funny and great but also perfectly capable of irritating the hell out of some people, old trickster that he was… I was maybe the last to join Unicorn, moving from Bredons (yes) in summer ’73, then to Wales, then back to live above Symposium in Market St.

    By Mark Broad (22/04/2011)
  • Picking up on this thread after reading John Shire’s “Bookends” – a very admirable book on the Brighton Book Trade. I used to be a sales rep for Victor Gollancz during the 70s and visited all the bookshops in Brighton to collect orders – Bredon’s Bookshop with the WAIT and ENTER signs above Keith’s door, John Beal further up the road, Robinson’s in the Lanes, W.H.Smug, Hatchards (for a short time), Practical Books down in Hove (in which the owner could get into a frightful bate) and Public House Books. Gollancz published authors such as Khrishnamurti and a number of books on mysticism and Richard Cupidi would take good quantities of these books. We always had a little problem in collecting monies… Googling Richard Cupidi brings up Brighton Hypnotherapy in Dyke Road – curing addiction to drugs and smoking. There’s a turn up for the books.

    By Ralph Spurrier (26/05/2011)
  • Thanks for mentioning the book Ralph; beat me to it! So, yes, it is out and available at all bookshops in Brighton (except Waterstones) and through Amazon. Thanks for all the help to everyone involved. It is, naturally, incomplete and there is a facebook page for all those interested in continuing the research http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Bookends/323285821410  And a very kind review in the Local History Topics section of this very site (see here). Again, thanks to one and all.

    By John Shire (30/05/2011)
  • Having just purchased John’s book (at Sandpiper) I’m now plunged into fits of nostalgia. I recall doing a search for Unicorn/Bill some years ago and finding little or nothing on the net. It’s great to see that’s changed. Unicorn was incredibly important at the time – a real haven for any intellectually inclined hippie in town. Bill and Mike were extremely hospitable, well-informed and amusing. Their status as a politically aware upfront gay couple with a business made them stand out – for which there was a price to be paid of course. I hung out with a bunch of like-minded hippies at a house round the corner in Foundry Street – dubbed “notorious” by the local paper. Tony Bennet’s ex-wife Antonia, a friend of Bill and Mike’s, had a house in Over Street. I was wondering if anyone reading this knows how Antonia died, something I’ve been trying to establish for years?

    By Roy C (01/06/2011)
  • Who painted the mural at the entrance to the Combination? I remember going to the cafe there in the 1960s and we thought it looked like a Bratby but I think it may have been by John Upton. Also does anyone remember the BBC Play for Today that was filmed there?  I think the music for the play was Julie Driscoll ‘Wheels on Fire’. Everytime I see Absolutely Fabulous I think that the writers (Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmonson) must have been in Brighton in the 1960s. I wonder if they were?

    By Jill T (14/06/2011)
  • To Roy C: Unfortunately Antonia had a problem with drinking and that was the cause of her death in the long run. The mural outside The Combination was by John Upton (and in reply to Nick Vieiera, he died several years ago).

    By Nick Heath (06/07/2011)
  • Hi, my dad John was married to Antonia and I think she had liver disease due to her alcoholism. It was a dreadful shame for she could be quite lovely. Regrettably my father ruined her. Also yes to the combination painting, that was my dad too. Have pics of me dressed up as a cat whilst my Dad wore a red and yellow platic suit. Those were the days!

    By Circe (18/07/2011)
  • Hello Roy C, I probably lived in the notorious house in Foundry Street with mother Anne and her partner Eddy; we later moved to Norfolk Terrace and then Farmyard. I have very happy memories of Bill Butler and a couple of years ago passed on my father Roy’s collection of books from Unicorn and a beautiful black and white photo of Bill. John Upton painted a large picture of our family which Eddy has. I have happy memories of Antonia who read me the Just so Stories with great warmth and kindness. I was unable to attend Antonia’s funeral having started a new job the day before, but know that Pete and Wendy kept in close touch with her and visited her the day before she died. 

    By Niki Trelawny (07/09/2011)
  • To Jill T, yes I remember the filming at the Combination. We lived just around the corner so were regulars, and I’d got to know Jenny (Harris?) quite well. She’d asked some of us if we’d like to be extras in the play and needless to say we jumped at the chance. Arriving early for the filming Jenny introduced me to Julie Driscoll and asked me to keep her company while some of the filming took place. She was great company – I remember that she would only drink water – and was particularly interested in student life in Brighton. I didn’t get to appear in the play as it was much more fun to be chatting with Julie Driscoll. I saw her sing with Brian Auger on several occasions – wonderful voice, lovely lady.

    By John Byford (22/09/2011)
  • Dear Niki, If you see Eddy can you send him my regards as I have fond memories of him from the ’60s.  We used to hang out together a lot, especially in Norfolk, King and Queen and Cottage coffee bar. Is he still in Sheffield?

    By Nick Heath (25/01/2012)
  • Another vote for Vortex books where I worked at one point and I always look for it when I return to Brighton though I know it has long since vanished. Happy memories.

    By Tony Jones (09/05/2012)
  • Niki Trelawny, I believe I knew your mother at Norfolk Terrace. She would remember my companion Hamish if she is the same “girl”.

    By Elaine Thompson (16/07/2012)
  • I too, remember the Public House Bookshop with great affection. Richard Cupidi is a guy hard to forget. I didn’t, however, learn about the Native American Indian Trust and would welcome any details.

    By Harvey Scott (07/09/2012)
  • I was a student at Portsmouth Poly in the mid ’80s but spent most Saturdays in Brighton. I loved the Public House Bookshop, as it was one of the few places you could buy gay literature in what felt like a safe environment for a teenager. I also bought books on meditation and folk myths and other odd stuff. I have very fond memories of the shop. I took someone down Little Preston Street a few years back to show them and it was closed. Hugely disappointed. I thought it was one of those places that would never change and just go on being there for ever and ever..

    By Miko (07/09/2012)
  • I am trying to find the history of the shop Holleyman and Treachers and the history of the owner. I would like to find out if there is any connection with my family.

    By Laura Holleyman (09/04/2013)
  • George Holleyman died in his 90s about 10 years ago, he was a friend of my grandfather’s. He lived just on the edge of Henfield and was a noted archaeologist and historian.The University of Sussex still has each year ‘The Holleyman lecture’ as a special feature. Holleyman & Treacher was a marvellous treasure trove for bibliophiles as it had four floors of second hand books. Being a geography nerd I spent many a happy hour in the basement trawling through the boxes of old maps. I recall when the notice of closure appeared in the Duke St window, I asked the then proprietor what was to replace it, he said ‘Just what we need in Brighton… another fashion shop…’. And he was correct!

    By Geoffrey Mead (11/04/2013)
  • I have just been browsing through these bookshop threads for the first time (yes, such wonderful stuff hidden in plain sight) … apologies for not having discovered it sooner. I set up the Public House Bookshop and really appreciate some of the passionate things people have had to say about it. Two short observations for now. I’m doing a story piece on the Public House bookshop for this year’s Brighton Festival (2013) on May 5th, 3pm at the Founders Room in the Dome. Tickets are sold out but there may be some returns on the day or you can try to blag your way in. And, if anyone wants to make contact with me, my email address is richard.cupidi@gmail.com.

    By Richard Cupidi (27/04/2013)
  • I worked at the Unicorn bookshop for a couple of months in the spring of ’73 and remember Bill and Michael very well. I was only eighteen and didn’t really register Bill’s importance until much later; as people have said he was a larger than life character, I remember him as humorous but also rather intimidating. Michael was a rather gentler presence. Thinking back I realise that they must have sacked me, which was fair enough given my general naivety and inexperience, but it was done so casually that it scarcely registered; more along the lines of a conversation in which we agreed it wasn’t really working out. I recall that they were becoming embroiled in a legal dispute with the French illustrator Philippe Druillet over a Michael Moorcock book they had published. I was saddened to hear of Bill’s death four years later.

    By Will Hill (25/08/2013)
  • Hello Circe, I read somewhere that you have a blog. I would like to get in touch with you. Is it possible? thanks

    By Regina (25/10/2013)
  • Combridge’s bookshop was owned by my grandad Herbert John Combridge, who had his main shop near the station in Burgess Hill. He retired around 1955. If anyone knows the address of the Hove shop (or anything else) I would be grateful to know.  Thanks.  

    By Alan (11/09/2014)
  • Quite a few names I  recognise throughout this thread and quite a bit of common history amongst us. Much as I dislike Facebook it might be a good idea for someone to create an entry where the disparate elements could be collated – some photographs etc?

    By Roy C (16/11/2015)
  • Good to see so many old names. Hello Richard Cupidi, &  Eddy P, Nick Heath.

    By Ted K (05/04/2018)
  • Hello Ted. It would be good to get back in contact with you. Hope the fires in Australia haven’t got too close to you. Give my love to Lynn. Warmest regards.

    By Nick Heath (20/01/2020)
  • Hi Alan,
    My mother worked at Combridge’s, I think it would have been in the late ’40s, early ’50s. Her name was Joan Futcher. The address I found is 56 Church Road, Hove.

    By Alison (09/08/2023)

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