Brighton and Hove Revisited

Photo:Avery's in 1931

Avery's in 1931

From the private collection of Brian Stothard

Avery's: St James's Street

By Jennifer Drury

Very interesting photographs

I was recently sent two very interesting photographs of the premises of Avery’s in St James’s Street by Brian Stothard. Brian worked for the proprietor Mr Avery from 1960 until the business closed in c1978.  Brian Stothard then ran the television side of the business from Garnet House in Kemp Town.

The 'Graf Zeppelin'

You will notice that the first photograph shows an airship hovering over the area. When I consulted Andy Grant our online local historian, he was able to discover that the ‘Graf Zeppelin’ LZ-127 passed over Brighton and Eastbourne on 31st August 1931. 

Confirmation of the date

He also found that by enlarging the section at the front of the airship, it is possible to read the words ‘Graf Zeppelin’ and the serial letters in the centre of the craft. As the details in the photograph support that date, we can assume that this is a genuine image.

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

Photo:Avery's in 1963

Avery's in 1963

From the private collection of Brian Stothard

Photo:The premises photographed in 2013

The premises photographed in 2013

Photo by Tony Mould


This page was added on 11/03/2013.
Comments about this page

I was told the story of the Zeppelin hovering over central Brighton by Les Roberts, when he told me the story of the bombing of Chesham Place, which you can read here: http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/category_id__1596.aspx He went on to explain, that with the war following soon after, all the young lads believed that the Zeppelin had been spying! Probably that was "a young lads belligerent view" looking backwards, but had little foundation!

By Peter Groves (11/03/2013)

Hi Peter, this was certainly not without foundation. It was a requirement laid upon those on the Zeppelins to gather intelligence, particularly aerial photographic shots of any strategically important sites. Regards, Andy

By Andy Grant (13/03/2013)

I remember Avery's shop with affection. This is where I bought my first 35mm single lens reflex camera. Before that I used 110 film which was just for snapshots really. The camera was a secondhand Practika Domiplan with an M42 screw thread for interchangable lenses. The same thread as Pentax lenses which I gravitated to later on when I could afford it. I was an avid photographer from that day on, (ask my kids). I ended up thirty years later with 5 Pentax SP 1000s with nearly all of the pentax lenses there were on the market. They were beautiful lenses. I have been through all of the darkroom processes over my time. The darkroom bit is over now. I have a good digital camera which gives excellent results. But all of this is down to my visit to Avery's shop all those years ago. Mike Peirson.

By Mick Peirson (13/03/2013)

It's interesting seeing this picture of the Graf Zeppelin over Avery's. My dad told me of once being at the Devils Dyke and seeing a silver disk in the sky out across the Weald. It got larger and larger until it revealed itself as the Zeppelin, passing not far above him and heading for Brighton. He said it was an incredible sight. The 1939-45 Brighton and Hove Bomb Map shows special attention being paid to the Preston Barracks on the Lewes Road and the gas works at Black Rock so perhaps some targets were identified following the visit of the Zeppelin. They also seem to have had a go at the Hove Lagoon. That's Nazis for you. No fun at all.

By Ken Standing (22/03/2013)

I have mentioned elsewhere on this site my interest in black & white photography and my connections with Brighton photographers especially Avery's of St James's Street. Way back in February I received an email from someone who had picked my name up from MyBrighton&Hove enquiring if I was that Tim Sargeant. I responded somewhat cautiously, as I've had a few which haven't been good. However this turned out to be the above mentioned Brian Stothard who it transpired had worked for my uncle, Leslie Avery, for many years until Leslie retired and Avery's closed. Although my mother had worked for Leslie Avery's father, Henry Avery, back in the 1920s and Leslie married my mother's sister Vera, I didn't have a photo of Avery's shop. Brian kindly provided me with hard copies of both the above photographs and we intend meeting up when I'm next in Brighton. Thanks to MyBrighton&Hove!
There has recently been an enquiry on the message board about another Brighton photographer, Henry Thomas Edwards of 11 Lewes Road. It would seem likely that Henry Avery's sister Edith may well have worked for Edwards as an Edith Avery is shown in the census as a servant at that address. Perhaps this is how Henry Avery got into the photography business in the first place? Strangely, there was another Avery in Brighton listed as a photographer early in the 20th century but he seems to have come from Essex and not stayed in the town for very long. There is further info about Henry Avery and Henry Edwards on the excellent site about Sussex Photohistory at photohistorysussex.co.uk and also on the Sussex Postcards site Sussexpostcards.info for anyone interested in old photography / photographers.
The airship shown in presumably Henry Avery's photograph above was apparently the most successful of the many such craft about at that time having crossed the Atlantic, circumnavigated the globe and visited the North Pole, covering over a million miles. Thanks to Andy for putting a date to this picture. (We had thought it earlier!)
I remember well my uncle's Humber Hawk shown in the second photo, Brian even remembered the registration number! That was later replaced with a Rover 3 litre coupe which he used to come up to Kent in. Somewhere else on the site I have bemoaned the loss of all Avery's glass negatives which were thrown into a skip just about where that Humber is parked when they closed down. I didn't know anything about this until too late.
Thanks also to Mick Peirson for his kind words about Averys. He has also communicated with me privately about this.
Several members of my camera club also used to deal with the firm and had purchased cameras and parts there over the years and all commented positively which is nice after all this time. What a shame it's no longer a photography shop. My cousin Terry, Leslie's son, became a doctor and finished his career in Tasmania, but his son has carried on with a bit of photography and submits pictures to his local newspaper where he lives in New Zealand.

By Tim Sargeant (19/04/2013)

I was so pleased when I found this photo of Avery's.  Lived in Kemp Town till I married in 1968 and worked in the office there around that time. Only left when we bought our first house in Goring - too far to travel every day.  Have good memories of working there.  Remember Brian very well. We only had proofs of our wedding in Dorset Gardens church. The photographer we used had placed coins on the pics so every pic we had had a big white circle on it.  Brian took one of these and filled in the circle for me. It was so lovely of him and I will always be grateful for this one really good photo.  Wonder if he remembers this! I now live in Hassocks but my mum still lives in White Street. She had her 90th birthday this year!  Her family name is Thwaites. Some of the last fishermen in Brighton.

By Jill Hopper (Hart) (08/10/2014)

My granddad owned this shop in the UK when I was a wee girl and before I was born. He was a lovely man and I remember him well. I live in NZ now. I have great photos of those days.

By Lizzy Wangford (nee Avery), Devonport, New Zealand (24/02/2015)

Does anyone else know anything about my Grand Dad Leslie Avery? My Dad was Terry Avery. My Dad has now passed away about seven years ago now, my Mum about 42 years ago and I would be grateful to hear anything anyone can help us with the history of the shop. I have this picture in my hallway in our house in Devonport NZ.  It seems funny to see a site with the same picture in when we are so far away. 

By Lizzy Wangford (20/09/2015)

I'm trying to gather information about when and why Avery's closed, and what happened to the archive. If someone could give me more information, that would be brilliant. Many thanks. 

By Abigail Wharne (13/10/2015)

I am researching East London photographers. I wonder if you can tell me if the photographer Henry Thomas Avery, who was resident at 17 St Martin's Place, Brighton in 1911 and died in 1951 (Stafford Road, Brighton), has any connection with the Avery's in St James's Street?

By Bob Gray (15/05/2017)

Hallo Bob, the photographers shop in St James's Street was owned by my uncle Leslie Avery who was married to my mother's sister Vera, and previously by his father Henry Alfred Avery who died aged 65 at No 1 Queen's Park Brighton, Dec qr 1950. So the Avery you mention was not Leslie Avery's father. From FreeBMDs I see that my uncle Leslie Avery born Sept qr 1911, father Henry A Avery, mother Mary (Coombes, they married Dec qr 1910). I also found the Avery you mention whilst doing some family research and he was born Hackney Sept qr 1880. With a bit of luck Lizzy, my cousin's daughter (see posting above) might pick up on this and give you further information on our Averys. There was also a John James Avery listed on photohistory-sussex.co.uk who had a photographers kiosk on the Palace Pier at one stage I think as he was shown at 'The Pier' Madiera Drive in 1909. Also listed were an Alice Avery and Anna Avery but no further information is given about them.

To Abigail, when Avery's closed down, about 1984 I think from memory, and the shop became a Taiwanese restaurant a hole was made in the roof where their negatives had been stored and these were all thrown into a skip in Rock Place below with the exception of a few of Brighton Station and the railway which were used in an exhibition by someone who didn't give any acknowledgement to Averys. I can assure you I didn't know anything about this great loss until some time afterwards.

By Tim Sargeant (16/05/2017)

Tim, what a sad loss about the negatives just thrown away like rubbish, heartbreaking to say the least. I remember in the 70s when I lived in London going through a street near Crystal Palace and finding a bin bag of old photos and negatives on a skip, (I was always a skip raker for sure). I couldn't wait to get home and have a look through this treasure. I still have some of the Victorian photos. The photos didn't have any sort of meaning to me as I did not know the people but all the same they were photos of the past. I printed some of the negatives and could see that they were taken with a very good camera. I would love to have come across the skip lot in Brighton as I would have seen places in my home town, I would have played for hours.

By Mick Peirson (16/05/2017)

Lizzy, I worked for your Grandfather from January 1960 until he retired in 1978. A very interesting time and Gentleman. You may remember me: I was the person who drove grandad's van. When your Dad ( Dr Terry ) moved with his job placements it was me who took him and his personal effects to where he went.

By Brian Stothard (14/11/2017)

Lizzy, I worked for your Grandfather from January 1960 until he retired in 1978. You may remember me from the past, I drove the van in the picture and used to move your Father's ( Dr Terry ) personal effects when he moved with his job placements before going to New Zealand.

By Brian Stothard (15/11/2017)

Hi Brian, what's your email? Mine is lizzy_wangford@outlook.com. Please contact me as I would love to talk on the phone and get more details.  I received your note in the mail last week to my work in New Zealand and have replied to you with no response - maybe it went to your junk mail? Lizzy

By Lizzy Wangford (10/12/2017)

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