Brighton and Hove Revisited

West Street photographed c1927

By Jennifer Drury

West Street was originally rather narrow, only twenty-eight feet wide in places, and so the upper part was widened on the eastern side at the same time as Duke Street in 1868.

The major widening was undertaken by the corporation in 1928-38 when all buildings along the western side were removed with the exception of St Paul's Church which had been built back from the road.

Regency Road was then made through to Upper Russell Street, several office blocks were erected in the upper part of West Street, and the Sports Stadium and Odeon Cinema built either side of Little Russell Street.

Photo:West Street c1927

West Street c1927

From the private collection of Councillor Geoffrey Wells

Photo:West Street 2010

West Street 2010

Photo by Tony Mould

This page was added on 15/08/2010.
Comments about this page

Wow, not much in common between those two pictures! Only St Paul's to give the game away. I think most of the buildings at the southern end of the east side of West Street are still fundamentally unchanged, though of course these aren't shown in these pictures, but apart from the church the west side is today unrecognisable even from how it was after the widening of 1928. My grandmother lived for some years in the late fifties and early sixties in a top floor flat in Clarence Square. I clearly recall walking out into West Street along what must have been Regency Road before the area was overwhelmed by the rebuilding of the sixties, when much of the area was just flat open ground thanks to either the Luftwaffe or the developers. Love these then-and-now pictures: lots more, please!

By Len Liechti (16/08/2010)

Glad you are enjoying the 'then and now' photos Len. There are more to come so watch this space. And if you have any 'then' photos in your collection you would like a 'now' shot taken of - get in touch.

By Jennifer Drury:Website Editor (17/08/2010)

The centerpiece of your 2010 picture is very familiar to me for the large white office building on the right, which was owned (built?) by the National Building Society, and called (what else) National House. There were offices on the ground floor, but the upper three floors were occupied by the Brighton offices of Machinery Publishing Co. These offices comprised administration and advertising departments for the weekly magazine Machinery, which had moved to Brighton during WWII. The first Brighton offices of this firm were in a disused hotel on the front (Madeira Drive?), but moved to West Street when the building was erected after the war ended. The top floor was occupied by the magazine's service department, a group of artists and photographers who existed to prepare advertisements for machines and equipment used in manufacturing, run by a John Hartley and his sidekick, Kenneth Hill. The magazine's editorial offices stayed in Euston Road, London, near to the printers. My first contact with the company was in 1948, when I went to work for the service department as an industrial photographer, travelling all over England, Scotland, and Wales to get photos and material for use in the advertisements. That was in the days before the Far Eastern countries discovered how to build machine tools and decimated the British machine tool industry, leading to Britain's demise as a manufacturing country. I later moved to London to work for the editorial department under editor Charles Burder, and now live in New Jersey, USA. Any friend who remembers these events can send me an email via regreen@juno.com

By Robert (Bob) Green (17/08/2010)

The picture is a little later than 1927, as Harris's Restaurant can be seen on the right, shortly before the church. This was founded shortly before 1930 and it was a sports arcade prior to then.

By Andy Grant (20/08/2010)

Robert (Bob) Green, you don't mention my father William (Bill) Hatley. He moved from London with the firm at the beginning of the War, and yes it started life at 17 Marine Place which runs from St James's Street to Marine Parade (not Madeira Drive - that's the lower road). I've never heard of you, perhaps because you may have left before I attained working age. My whole life seemed to centre around both machinery (where my brother also worked) and the Brighton Herald (where we printed some sections of the magazine every week). As an office boy for the Herald in 1952 I was always in and out of the offices in West Street and got to know practically everyone there. As a nipper during the War I would often be taken to Marine Place to play with the typewriters and do some drawing etc. There only seemed to be about four or five employess in those days. I remember the skylight on the roof, where my father did firewatch duties. He saw the gasholder next to my school (St Marks at Kemp Town) blown up during a daylight bombing raid. I was home for the lunch hour at the time, and never returned 'till after the Blitz. I never knew Hartley, although the name was always being mentioned. Another director was Mason whom I also never knew, but Mason junior was a regular on the Annual Outing, and is in some photos which I will be emailing to you. You will love seeing the snap of four employees outside 17 Marine Place in 1940. It shows my dad with Doris Russell (nearest the column) and two others I can't name. Perhaps the man at the back is you!? There is a message on the back from an E.Mellor, who presumably took the shot, dated 20/7/40.

By Brian Hatley (26/06/2011)

I am trying to confirm the architect of National House. The foundation stone refers to 'H.E. Mendelsohn', but I was told that this is because the stone mason was told that his name was Herr Erich Mendelsohn. If true, the building was designed by the same architect who also collaborated on the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and should, therefore, be listed.

By Stephen Eastman (15/01/2017)

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