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Churchill Square - but what date?

Churchill Square
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

Can you date this view of Churchill Square?

Do you remember any of these shops?

If you would like to share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • I’d hazard a guess and say early 1970s?

    By Peter (10/03/2012)
  • I remember Tesco’s and Sainsburys used to be next door to each other in Churchill Square in the early days in the 1970s.

    By John Leach (10/03/2012)
  • I’d say around 1965-67.

    By Martin White (10/03/2012)
  • My guess is that this photograph was taken within the first two years of the complex being opened. It looks free of the tired concrete syndrome that haunts such places once the concrete becomes weathered.

    By David Scott (10/03/2012)
  • I reckon 69/70 looking at the fashions as well.

    By Claire Townsend (12/03/2012)
  • Yes, I’d say around 1969/70, you can just make out ‘Acres the Bakers’ on the right of the ‘National Westminster Bank’. They used to have a downstairs area for eating and drinking. I think the woman sitting on the bench has a hairdo that was fashionable at that time. Tesco’s eventually moved to the back of the square downstairs to a much larger store.

    By Paul Clarkson (12/03/2012)
  • I’d be very grateful if somebody could tell me; are we looking at what would have been the back of the old WH Smiths? Would the National Westminster bank in the photo have later have been the record department of WH Smiths? Thanks very much for any info. Regards

    By Peter (12/03/2012)
  • Does anybody remember a small shop on the east side of the square called ‘Cox’s Hi-Fi?’ opposite the then side entrance to BHS. It wasn’t there for very long and I worked there in November 1974 for a couple of months between jobs (£16 per week). They specialised in Hi-Fi and camera’s mostly, it was when the separates were all the rage, customers could make up their own systems and choose their amps, tuners, speakers and decks (vinyl and cassette). I remember the most popular amplifier was called the ‘Sansui 101’ at £39.95. Upstairs there were the more costly hi-fi’s and they even sold ‘Quadrophonic’ systems, they were excellent quality and very pricey so they never really caught on. One memory I do have is that In my short time at the shop I served Leo Sayer who lived locally at the the time and I got his autograph, very nice chap.

    By Paul Clarkson (13/03/2012)
  • Paul Clarkson’s posting reminded me that I bought my first ‘stereo system’ from Dixons in Churchill Square in 1972 – a Garrard deck, Prinz-Sound amp and (to remove the problem of my parents forever telling me to “turn that racket down”) a pair of headphones rather than speakers. I worked as a Saturday boy at two Churchill Square stores in the early ’70s: Tesco (as shown in the photo) and HMV, which was located behind the position that the photo was taken from. At Tesco my job was to collect the used trolleys and return them to the front of the store (this necessitated frequent trips in the lift down to the underground car park where I would find them abandoned all over the place) and at HMV I was supposed to deter would-be shoplifters by walking around the shop keeping an eye on suspicious-looking characters. Tesco paid £2.10 for 3 hours on Friday evening and £8 on Saturday; HMV paid £1.50 just for working Saturday!

    By John Wilkin (23/03/2012)
  • I too bought my first proper stereo system from Dixons in Churchill Square. It took me ages to save to money as I was only an engineering apprentice in 1973. The system I bought was a Leak Delta 30 amp, Goldring Lenco record deck and Celestion Ditton 15 loudspeakers. With HMV almost next door and Virgin Records on Queens Road, one of my hobbies was listening to good quality sounds, as it still is nearly 40 years on.

    By Michael Brittain (24/03/2012)
  • Just spotted a typo in my posting above – it should have read “Tesco paid £2.10 for 3 hours on Friday evening and 8 hours on Saturday” – £8 would have been fantastic as the ladies who worked on the tills only earned £11 for working a full week!

    By John Wilkin (26/03/2012)
  • I remember the Celestion Ditton speakers as we used to sell those in Cox’s, they had a nice deep bass sound. I remember Dixons being our main competition in Churchill Square, they had their own brand of hi-fi called ‘Prinz’, a friend of mine had one of those all in one turntable, tuner, amp and cassette deck systems that were out in the 70’s and the Prinz one was pretty good. Churchill Square was very drafty in those days even on a hot summers day and when it rained there was no real cover outside the shops, it’s much better now. I do remember when I worked at Cox’s in 1974 that on the Christmas Eve it was deserted and as the day went on there was no-one about, we actually put two speakers outside the doors and played Christmas songs in the hope it might drum up some trade.

    By Paul Clarkson (26/03/2012)
  • Tesco’s there?! I thought that was occupied by Mothercare for many years. Tesco’s was at the back of the Square, sort of where Debenhams is now? Wasn’t it?

    By Brad Jones (07/08/2012)
  • Brad, Tesco was there before moving downstairs. I used to work in Acres the Bakers next door on Saturdays and during school holidays. That was from 1970 to 1973.

    By Janet Beal (07/08/2012)
  • Mothercare was there in 73 when my son was born. Does anyone remember Toy and Model market? I worked there 72-73 before having my son.

    By Jill Aberdeen (20/06/2013)
  • Do you remember ‘Young Ones Toy Shop’ on Cranbourne Street just off Churchill Square? A small shop but full of wonderful toys, 1967-72.

    By John Booker (20/06/2013)
  • That is where the back entrances to the chemist and Smiths were and whoever took the photo was standing just by the back entrance of Miss Selfridge. I worked there from their onset for 5 years. Mothercare I remember well. At the end of my 5 years I was in and out of there buying my baby clothes and pram etc. and it was definitely in that top left corner. Probably after Tesco then. Loved it!

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (nee Baldwin) (20/06/2013)
  • The National Westminster Bank came into being by an amalgamation of several banks on 1st January 1970. The picture must post date this.

    By David Packham (21/06/2013)
  • Tesco’s were already established at the back of the shop in 1980 when they took over the Co-op next door. They would have moved to the large shop and closed this one, so if someone knows when the large shop opened, then it has to be between 1.1.70 and then. We should be able to narrow it down from the entire 1970s between us!

    By Simon (24/06/2013)
  • I reckon Tesco moved premises around 1971/2. I remember a group of lads from Tesco spending their tea breaks in the cafe at Acres the Bakers where I worked (I went out with one of them!). That was in 1971. Acres itself closed down sometime in the mid to late seventies, to be replaced by the Early Learning Centre.

    By Janet Beal (25/06/2013)
  • Was interested in the comments about Cox HiFi. I worked there in about 1974, to begin with on Saturdays when I was a student teacher at Brighton College of Education. I remember one of the joint owners named Mark. I worked there for a few months after qualifying and getting my first teaching job at Balfour Junior School. It sold some good quality products and I still have the Thorens turntable and SME 3009 arm I bought from them (trade price). I was there when they opened the upstairs hifi showroom upstairs and helped to set it up. They did offer me a full time job but I stuck to teaching!

    By David Smith (01/04/2015)
  • To David Smith, I started full time in November of 1974 so it was quite likely I took on the position you turned down. You’re quite right that the products they sold were of a good quality, I often wished that the £16 per week I earned would help me to own a Sansui amp or the Celestion Ditton speakers but alas they were priced out of my league. The upstairs department was even more pricey and it was the first time I had set eyes on a full quadrophonic system which was in its infancy then. I only stayed until the end of January 1975 as I wanted to earn more and not work on Saturdays but I learnt a lot there about Hi-Fi and Photography so it was a worthwhile experience. One of the owners was Mark (and I think his surname was) Bacchus, he interviewed me for the job in the branch they had in York Place, a nice chap as I remember, he let me keep my long hair as other bosses would have insisted I had a hair cut!!

    By Paul Clarkson (06/04/2015)
  • To Paul Clarkson. Yes it was Mark Bacchus and the other owner was Paul ?? I think. There was also a John who was in the photography department downstairs and by coincidence his daughter was a pupil at the next school I worked at (Downs Junior School). I never got into quadraphonics but did buy a quad 33 303 and a pair of electrostatic speakers which sadly I had to sell when I got married and bought a house. I seem to remember the speakers playing Christmas music outside the shop doorway. It’s possible we were for a while working there at the same time. They did sell some good products but I used to hate selling Amstrad amps because they invariably came back faulty. One particular incident I remember was having a customer asking for one, I set it up to demonstrate and there was a pop and some smoke, went and got another and it did the same thing again. I may even have got a third that did the same. I suggested he saved up a little more money and I would sell him an amplifier that was worth having, probably a Sansui AU 101 or the better 505  (which were very good). Not sure if he took my advice. Any way it was good fun working there.

    By David Smith (17/04/2015)
  • To David Smith. I remember the Amstrad problem very well, every time (and it happened a lot) a customer came in for a repair on their Amstrad product there was always a sharp intake of breath and usually a recommendation to take it to ‘Sounds Unlimited’ in North Street, apparently they had some expertise in mending them. I remember the chap upstairs who ran the Quadrophonic dept, he used to wear clogs and the manager was always shouting at him as they left marks on the floor! The only product I purchased while I was there was an ‘Agfa’ 110 camera, 110 was supposed to be the new thing as it was small, I’ve still got it and it still works. I didn’t get into quadrophonic either, actually as I’ve always been totally deaf in my right ear I’ve never heard what stereo sounds like so I wasn’t the best person to sell them really, was I!

    By Paul Clarkson (20/04/2015)
  • I worked Saturdays at Tescos in Churchill Square in 1972 and it was still on the Mothercare site, I believe it moved to its new location in the square in 1973. Us part-timers worked 3 hours on Friday evening and all day Saturday for the princely sum of £2.07! I spent my first wages on the Ziggy Stardust LP by David Bowie that had just been released that week.

    By Lee Hughes (21/04/2015)
  • I used to shop in the Tesco store in this photo during my lunch break when I was newly married. That was in 1968. It was a cheap and cheerful store then with dreadful lighting. Can’t remember when it moved but yes Mothercare took over the site.

    By Christina Ayres (13/07/2016)
  • Apart from on the rack and shelf fashions at the modern ‘Mr.Burt’ store, we also ran a bespoke suit and top coat patterns and styles counter on the first floor.

    I remember Dixons were the first to introduce the Sony Trinitron portable tvs with the black screen (when switched off!) also the Sony range of HiFi record speakers.

    I purchased a ‘Teleton’ HiFi tuner from the store to compliment my Sansui Amp and Garrard cassette deck, Pioneer PL112D record deck also ‘Solovox’ three way speakers from Comet’s near Brighton railway station.

    I still have all of the equipment. The tape deck which was a top loader no longer works!

    By Mike Denley (20/08/2016)
  • I’ll say the picture was taken in the early 1970s, before Tesco moved to a bigger site at the back of Churchill Square, next to the Co-op. I can clearly remember them from the mid 1970s. Tesco took over Co-op’s site by the late 70s, and became the biggest shop in the square.

    There was also a Sainsbury’s a little further to the east of Tesco. It was situated a floor above the public toilets, by the 2 way escalators.

    That branch of Tesco had the best tasting in-store baked pies anywhere! Especially their beef curry pies. I’ve not tasted any pies as good anywhere so far.

    Such good childhood memories.

    By Waiman Lee (20/04/2020)
  • Approx 1975 I’d say.

    By Julian (12/02/2021)
  • I’d say early 60’s looking at the clothing of the lady and little girl. Reminds me of my mum and me when I was about 4/5. Remember it being redeveloped when I was older.

    By Carol Aston (20/08/2023)
  • In response to Peter (12/03/2012). The Nat.West. branch pictured here (56, Churchill Sq.) is exactly as I remembered it looking in the late ‘80s when I briefly worked there. I’m sure the excellent W. H. Smith’s record shop — I being a very frequent visitor ! —was next door to the left, just out of view of this photograph (where there were also a couple of cash machines).

    By Sam Flowers (21/08/2023)
  • Yes, I reckon the photo is circa 1970 – it all looks new and fresh in a way I never knew it.

    By Sam Flowers (21/08/2023)

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