Brighton and Hove Revisited

Sexton's Bookshop: Ship Street

By Jennifer Drury

This was a very old established business and the year shown on the wall, 1868, is correct, for in that year James Thorpe opened his second-hand booksellers shop at 4 Union Street, just a few yards away. Later he moved his business to these premises; he was certainly in Ship Street by the 1890s.

The Thorpe family ran it until about 1955, when it was acquired by the Sextons. In this photograph it can be seen that they mention they are 'Successors to J. Thorpe'. The lettering on the adjoining building was to advertise The Brighton Hove & Preston Building Society.

Click on the photographs to open a large version in a new window.

Photo:Sexton's book shop photographed in the 1950s

Sexton's book shop photographed in the 1950s

Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Photo:The premises photographed in 2012

The premises photographed in 2012

Photo by Tony Mould

This page was added on 18/11/2012.
Comments about this page

I remember this shop well - it was a time warp. I bought a few books in there over the years.

By Dennis Fielder (19/11/2012)

This photograph brings back memories as after leaving school I worked for two years as a trainee accountant for a respected firm of Chartered Accountants, John Tuffin & Co, whose offices were at 54 Ship Street. I often used to drop into the bookshop during lunch hours to see what I could find.

By Martin White (19/11/2012)

Strange I have not seen this particular photo before; we had the other shop in Dyke Road when this photo was taken (and another previously further down in what was then called Upper North Street).  The shop in Ship Street in the photo had 3 floors of books and another we used as a store room. I am glad I don't have to sweep those dusty floors anymore; there was only one silver lining for this job - I used to be allowed to have any loose change that had dropped down in the grill that covered the opening for the basement window.  Great for a young lad! All that proximity to books must have had an effect as I still run Sextons Books: Now going for over a hundred years.

By Peter Sexton (28/01/2014)

This photo of my father's shop brings back memories, although I pass it many times a week even now, and I have even been in for a coffee!  Not quite the same though! I remember him taking over the shop from the Thorpes, we lived next door to Mrs Thorpe in Glendale Road, Hove. I spent many hours in both shops. This was of course many years before my nephew Peter and his father David (Buddy) took over from my father on his retirement. A different world indeed!

By Peter Gaius Sexton (23/04/2015)

I sometimes walk along Ship Street, Brighton. I look at the cafe that now trades there and remember that I once went into that old bookshop having travelled from Bexhill on my motorcycle. The lady behind the counter was my mother's sister; my mother's name was Beatrice Penfold, nee Vitler (her sister's nickname for my mum was Rook, why I do not know). That I believe, Peter, makes you and I cousins. Like to make contact sometime; I live close by in Seaford. Regards, Colin.

By Colin Penfold (22/05/2016)

Happy memories indeed; the Sextons in Dyke Rd had that little corner adjacent to Wykeham Terrace with - if I remember correctly - the book shelves facing south to the sea. That little area still has the feel of old Brighton with lovely architectural detail on the walls above, abruptly against 21st century Brighton...Pizza Hut!

By Geoffrey Mead (23/05/2016)

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