William Street

Childhood memories

By Ann Roberts nee Wickham

My mum’s friends

My Mum lived in William Street, her name was Rose Dove. Flo (Saunders) Tidey and Violet Townsend (Lamper) were both my Mum's great friends. Flo only had one son Freddy named after his dad, he changed it later to Michael. During the war his Mum went up to London I believe to see some relatives and she asked my Mum to look after Freddy while she was gone.

Photo:My mum in her heyday

My mum in her heyday

From the private collection of Ann Roberts


All in one bed – top and tailed

When we were kids, because of a lot of shortages, to keep warm we went to bed quite early. Mum, brothers Jim and Reg, sister Joan and me all slept in one bed; it was convenient if the sirens went, she could get us all into the air raid shelter. We were quite small so it was three at the top and two at the bottom. Our visitor Fred was put in the bottom with the boys, he was a saucy little kid and used to swear like a trouper, he said to Mum '**** me Rosy! How many more are sleeping in this bed?' He used to love staying with us because he was an only child.

Photo:Marjorie Taylor, Joan, Kath and me: George Street Gardens

Marjorie Taylor, Joan, Kath and me: George Street Gardens

From the private collection of Ann Roberts


Going for Mum’s ciggies

I went to John Street School; Freddy Bean, Terry Douglas and one of the Wadey family were in my class. At one time I lived in George Street Gardens. I used to go round Riding School Lane, we used to get our coal round there 25lbs at a time.  I used to have to go to Francis' sweetshop for Mums 5 weights cigarettes. Just round the corner there was the Salvation Army’s Congress Hall. We used to go there a couple of weeks before Christmas so we could go to the Christmas party – a bit cheeky really.

Photo:My brother Reggie in George Street Gardens

My brother Reggie in George Street Gardens

From the private collection of Ann Roberts


Not many treats in those days

We also went to the Dorset Gardens Sunday School so we could go on their outings. You see that used to be a big thing in our lives - we didn't get many treats in those days. Also I remember well the chocolate powder we were given and one time we were given an apple. We were pretty hard up, but they were happy days. We always found something to laugh at. My Mum was a real character - always happy go lucky.

Now I live in Australia but I still remember my happy Brighton days. If you remember our family, or have memories of that time, I would love to hear from you.

Photo:William Street: undated photograph

William Street: undated photograph

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

William Street

This page was added on 03/06/2011.
Comments about this page

I also remember all the things and people that you mention because I was brought up in William Street, and you must know our family. Newmans, from number ten next door to the Gunns. I went to the same schools as you and played the same games. As for Freddy Tidy, I saw him about five years ago while I was visiting the UK. He has indeed changed his name to Michael, and is now an antique dealer living in a mews flat in Kemp Town leading a completly diffrent lifestyle. He was most suprised to hear me call him by the name of Fred! He said this must be someone who knows me well, when he reconised me, he reverted back to being a William Street boy for a short time. Happy memories.

By Duffy Watkins (16/05/2011)

Memories still keep coming back Duffy! Do you remember also down Riding School Lane the paint factory, I think it was called Horace Williams? Can you remember the boy that lived near the top of George Street Gardens? I think when there was a polio scare when we were young, he had it. I remember him, he had a mop of curly hair but can't remember his name. The Smith family that lived in Sussex Terrace. Joy has a few old photos from our younger days and she is going to pass some over. Does anyone remember Bosses Gardens which was at the back of Mighell Street?

By Kathleen Catt (nee Cornford) (05/06/2011)

Hi Kath, I put quite a few photos up now so let me know if you see them and if you can spot yourself in them. Rita Lamper was my friend when we were kids so I used to go down William Street to her house and she used to come to mine. Does anyone remember the lady who had 25 kids? She lived in the street off the bottom of Richmond Street on the left, can't remember name of the street, but I used to go to her house to play sometimes. I remember the boy who had polio, Kath, and Riding School Lane nail varnish always reminds me of that paint shed down there. I sent you three emails awhile ago Kath but not had a reply from you? I hope you OK?

By Joy Panteli (nee Smith) (16/06/2011)

I remember Riding School Lane as there used to be a motorcycle dealer called Larry Stripp who had a saleroom there . Later on he moved to Islingwood Rd. Can't say I remember the paint factory but my sister worked for Horace and Williams in the old building in Old London Rd Patcham that was the original Black Lion pub. It had stables and an orchard at the back.

By Alan Spicer (18/06/2011)

Hi Ann, I do not know how much you recall of the houses in George Street Gardens, but my g/g/grandfather lived at number 34 in the 1840s, prior to acquiring a shop at 27, Edward Street (which I believe it was joined to.) Regards, Andy.

By Andy Grant (18/06/2011)

Hello Andy, not sure when you wrote, I haven't been on the site for quite a while. I'm not sure about the house your Great Great Grandfather had, we lived right at the bottom at No 4, it was a big old Cottage with a shop attached, there was a boot repairer who rented that. Most of the people we knew by name, can't remember all of them now though, it was 61 years ago when we left there. I was 13 at the time.

By Ann Roberts (29/08/2011)

Hi Ann, I believe there is a picture of the cottage in which you lived in the James Gray Collection at http://regencysociety-jamesgray.com/volume24/source/jg_24_075.html Your house was a short distance up from Edward Street and my g/g/grandfather lived in virtually the only house that stood on the opposite side of the road, immediately behind the newsagent's shop at 28, Edward Street. Perhaps this might jog a few memories? The shoe repairer you mention was Harry Stoner and I am guessing that you might have known Edward George Heath, who lived at number 4 in 1949. You might also be aware that Joseph Marcantonio, the well-known street musician, lived next door to you at #5. There are a couple of pictures of them on this website at Homes People Local Folk 'Frederick Alexander' and 'Italian Beach Musicians'. Regards, Andy.

By Andy Grant (29/08/2011)

Yes Joy - I remember that was Mrs Coomber. She lived in Ivory Place, next to the scrap yard at the end of that street, going toward Sussex Street. On the corner was the schools’ clinic where you went for medicals, the school dentist, and ‘Nitty Nora’ as we called her. I also remember that is where we all went for a smallpox jab. We had to wait outside with lots of people. Sorry I didn’t answer your emails.

By Kathleen Catt (29/08/2011)

Hello Andy, I must apologize again for not writing sooner to your message on this website, I do remember that house opposite to where we lived in George St Gdns, it used to frighten us as kids it was always so dark and half hidden. My sister Joan knew the lady that lived there, she once gave her some chocolate , but Mum took it away from her because there were teeth marks in it. I loved Mr Marcantonio- he used to come home about 4pm and we would always be playing out in the street, he used to hold his ear, then point to his nose and say "ear I nose you'' or "how is my chocolate nose", peculiar little things I know but such a lovely person. I liked Mr Stoner too all though my Mum didn't. She overheard him one day talking about us, so she went in and called him a few names, actually the shop where he worked belonged to the house we lived in, the landlord asked my Mum once if she wanted to buy it for 200 pounds. Mum didn't most of the time have two halfpennies to rub together. When you think how much money that bit of land American Express would have paid for it. I think they were the happiest days of our lives in that house- it was so run down it eventually fell down. Just after we moved out, some squatters moved in, so we were told, after us and woke one morning looking out into the street the whole front of the house had collapsed. No wonder they demolished it but in a way it was so sad that it was gone. Thanks Andy for your memories of the street. When I get onto the site I love reading all the letters and yes I have seen the Photo of Mr Marcantonio and Mr Alexander. Take care 

By Ann Roberts (21/10/2011)

I know it's a long shot but did any of you guys live in William Street when my dad and his siblings did - Fred Ancell, (siblings Billy, Jenny, Victor, Margaret)? His mum was a Gunn. I have a photo somewhere that I would like to share.

By Debbie Blake (01/11/2016)

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