Brighton and Hove Revisited

West Street shops in 1984

By Jennifer Drury

Photo:West Street shops photograhed in 1984

West Street shops photograhed in 1984

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

This image above, is a very clear photograph of one of the old West Street private houses, taken on 25 March 1984, when demolition was already threatened. During its long life, exact length unknown, its most prominent occupant was Alderman S.H. Soper, Mayor of Brighton in 1890, who founded his drapery Emporium at 78/83 North Street in 1860.

He lived in this house from about 1870 well into the 1900s, after which it became an annexe to his nearby store. Later it was made into these three small shops with offices above. It was demolished in 1986. So passes from the scene another part of 'Old Brighton'. 

Do you remember these shops? Did you buy your sandwiches in 'Fresh Bite'. And what would you find in 'Come Rummage' - the mind boggles. If you have any memories of these shops please share them with us by posting a comment below.

Photo:West Street in 2013

West Street in 2013

Photo by Tony Mould


This page was added on 01/01/2013.
Comments about this page

Having left school in 1984, and before stating university later that September, I would occasionally stop by for a sandwich at 'Fresh Bite' as I was roaming around town trying to find a summer job. I would also most likely have popped-into the pub on left of 'Fresh Bite' for a swift half-or two. I remember the pub at some point being called the 'Nellie Peck'; does anybody know if that was its name when this photo was taken? Great photo; thanks for posting this.

Editor's note: Glad you enjoyed the photo Andrew - maybe you would like to share some of your memories of that time with us. Contact me on: jennifer@mybrightonandhove.org.uk

By Andrew (03/01/2013)

I remember these shops particularly the Treasure Trove gift shop. I must have only been a tot but remember standing outside staring in at all the pretty things in the window. So sad that the majority of old West Street has long gone. From the old photos it had so much character unlike now.

By Carol Homewood (03/01/2013)

I have lots of memories of not only the shops, but I worked in a photo developing place called Paragons, just next to the last shop on the right in the top photo. At that time (1977-1983) I think the pub was called the Birds Nest. The clothing shop sold very cheap jeans and clothes for my age group at the time (16-early 20s). I remember the sandwich shop was owned by a man and his pretty wife, who only worked with him occasionally. Most of the staff at Paragons would get takeaway lunch from there. I also remember a club opposite called Bentleys. A hairdressers round in ? Boyces Street, owned by a girl who had a sister called Santosh. I worked with Jean Vaughan, Sue Hooker and Carol Gaut. Anyone still out there?

By Carol (12/01/2013)

My Great Great grandfather Alderman Samuel Soper was the Mayor of Brighton and opened the Pier also. He owned Soper's department store in North Street. We have done our family tree with my mother's help, who has many good photos of these times.

By Barbara (04/02/2013)

Can anyone please help me? I have just found a copy of William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair, the fly leaf doesn't have a date, but it does bear the legend S.H.Soper Stationery And Fancy Emporium Brighton. Is this the same Soper who is mentioned above & if so could you tell me roughly the years they worked at publishing. Thankyou for your time

By Sheila Brooke (09/04/2013)

Hi Sheila, Samuel Henry Soper opened a drapery store at 80, North Street at the start of the 1860's. By the 1880's the business had not only greatly expanded the original shop, but had also opened a Fancy Store at 58, Western Road. By the 1890's a partnership named Soper & Wheeler were listed as Wholesale Stationers and Paper Bag Manufacturers in North Road. The whole business appears to have collapsed in the mid 1920's, the Drapery thereafter being run by W.T Leeson for a short while. After closing the North Street Store it was resurrected again as a Drapery Store in the late 1930's. I am unaware of their role as publishers, but would guess somewhere between 1890 and 1925 would be somewhere approximating the dates. Regards, Andy

By Andy Grant (09/04/2013)

I have a great advertisement of Soper's dating from around 1900. It states it was at 78 - 83 (top of) North Street, but using Google Maps its quite difficult to establish exactly where that was. I will try and get a page on the site soon to show it.

By Peter Groves (09/04/2013)

Next door was the "Bosun" pub. We never went in there - seem to remember it being a no-go pub. Annabelles in the Lanes was a safer bet! (And had a table top packman game!)

By Graham Boyce (09/07/2014)

I am a book dealer and recently bought, "The Count of Monte-Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas" published by S. H. Soper, Stationery and Fancy Emporium, Brighton. No date. The binding is typical of the late 19th century. The final page is titled, "The Home Instructor Library", and lists over 100 titles, some of which were published by Richard King circa. 1890 with an identical binding to the one I have. Any information forthcoming I will pass on. Please, if you would, do the same.

By Henry Stanton (16/07/2014)

Just a note regarding Alderman Samuel Henry Soper's dates. He was born 25 Jan 1837 in Brighton and died 15 Aug 1892 at Fisher's Hotel, Pitlochry, Scotland. He had travelled to Scotland in ill health a week after the marriage of his eldest son Samuel Henry Soper, Jnr. (1861-1914) and died from a 'cerebral apoplexy' which I believe would now be termed a stroke. Samuel Henry, Jnr., and his brother in law Ernest Edward Fordred inherited Soper's Drapery Emporium but as family folklore states Samuel was no businessman like his father and frittered away the family fortune. He was declared bankrupt in 1908, on Aug 21 1908 a London Gazette notice announcing his bankruptcy cited "unjustifiable extravagance in living". I am hoping to produce a short book at some point of my research on Alderman Soper and recently visited Brighton where I found the overgrown but nonetheless quite beautiful family tomb at Extra Mural Cemetery where he is buried along with his son and several other relations. Next year will be the 125th anniversary of his term as Mayor, wouldn't it be nice if this was marked in some fashion in the town he served with pride and distinction.

By Jamie Yates (16/09/2015)

I was a copper in Brighton in the 70s and I bought a long, Indian print wrap around skirt in 1971/2. I still have it today and wear it every summer. 

By Maralyn Streeter (05/04/2017)

I envy Maralyn Streeter above. I too bought lovely wrap around skirts from the Indian shop, three in fact, 1970s. Very sorry I ever let them go.

By Sandra Bohtlingk (10/04/2017)

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