Churchill Square

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Churchill Square' page

The first version

Image and text from the 1994 My Brighton museum exhibit

A scheme for creating a new shopping centre alongside Western Road was first conceived in the 1930s. The current scheme [this text was written in 1994] was given ministerial approval in 1963 and the first shop (Blackburns Menswear) opened in 1967.

The Churchill Square development covers over 15 acres. It extends from Western Road down to the sea-front. It cost £9 million to build, and consists of a shopping precinct, a residential block, a group of offices and three car-parks.

Some of the land needed for the square's development was already vacant having been cleared in 1938 and 1957-8. However, one early nineteenth century street of cobble-fronted buildings, Grenville Place, was demolished.

This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
The Multi-level development of the Square opened in 1971. By the early 80's the leaseholders (as the council owned it) were becoming concerned with the decline in trading in the shops on the lower levels. In 1987 the Argus made the famous damning verdict on the square in its opinion column. By the start of the 1990s several key names had moved out of the lower levels. In 1991 Standard Life bought out partner Taylor Woodrow and announced plans to revitalise and modernise the square. The Spirit of Brighton sculpture was demolished and replaced with a bandstand in 1992, and new signs put up. This year saw the last supermarket, Tescos, leave the square. Another Standard Life idea was a market on the lower levels, this only lasted a few weeks however as complaints from the office blocks were too high. In late 1993 the final shop on the lower level closed. By this time the square was in a dilipadated state. In 1995 the council sold up to Standard Life for 17million and plans were announced for a new look covered shopping centre. Demolition began in January 1996 and construction work started in August of that year, with the new centre opening in September 1998
By Sam Cullen (14/07/2004)
I would like to know what was there before the 1930's. What was on the site of Churchill Square at the turn of the century? I am intrigued.
By Kelly Armstrong (04/04/2005)

Grenville Place was demolished early '65. I lived at 44. We held out for meagre compensation from Brighton Council and were the last house standing in the road as we refused to move before our new home was ready. It transpired that Churchill Square was a terrible development and it seems that B&H Council are attempting similar wholesale development at King Alfred etc.

By L. Freedman (18/11/2006)

My great great grandparents lived at 7 Blucher Place, Brighton from 1861 until 1891. My great grandfather Owen Pope also lived there. Blucher Place was demolished to make way for Churchill Square. Does anyone have any photos of Blucher Place? The street sounds intriguing.

By Jackie Wickham (29/10/2007)

Why is it actually called Churchill Square?

By Lancleot (09/11/2007)

I lived in no. 1 Blucher Place just before the war broke out with my grandmother Mrs Gunn, her son Tom Gunn and my mother and father Doris and Ted Martin. Before that
we lived in Cannon Place. I would like to meet up with anyone who lived in Blucher place, Gordon Martin 01903 763495.

By Gordon Martin (03/03/2008)

The new one is better, but needs more variety of shops.

By Beth (09/10/2008)

Winston Churchill went to school in Hove for a while and Churchill Square was built shortly after his death, so I guess that is why the name.
[Editor: See here for article about Winston Churchill at school in Hove.]

By Lisa Waltman (05/05/2009)

Yes, Churchill Square-shopping fit for heroes.

By Edward Castle (13/08/2009)

The Dawes family originate from the area off West Street where houses were pulled down to make way for slums. Edward Dawes otherwise known as Ted Dawes was from there - he later married Una Forsyth. Una was from Guardbridge in Scotland. They had five children together: Ted, Una, Michael (as in Michael Dawes Antiques), David (Gaffa) and Sylvia. They emigrated to Tigard Oregon when David was fifteen taking only Una with them.

By Kim Dawes (04/05/2010)

Does anyone remember the name of the record shop inside the old Churchill Square, that was on the site that the Disney Store is now on? It's been annoying me for ages as I used to go in all the time in the 80s. Thanks.

By Jo (16/06/2010)

The record shop - where the Disney store is now - was the old HMV shop! WHSmith also had a record shop directly behind its main store roughly where the upper-level jewellery shops are now.

By GPJ (01/08/2010)

I remember Churchill Square before they renovated it. I loved the Tesco store they had. There was the escalator that took your trolley upstairs as well. I remember going to that Tesco before the Great Storm of 1987. When Tesco went it marked the beginning of the end of that C.S. I kinda miss it today. There's no real warmth to today's C.S.

By Glenn Cooney (15/08/2010)

I remember the old Churchill square very clearly, and it seemed a lot more spacious than the shopping centre we have now. Where has all that open space gone? For a city that has pretty much no out of town shopping area, it would have been nice for an extra layer to have been built perhaps an area for local retailers, of small units, there is an area like this in Bluewater.

By Dave Denyer (20/09/2010)

It appears from Census (1911) information that my great grandfather James Coots also lived at 44 Grenville Place with his wife Mary. My grandfather Charles James Cootes was possibly born there in 1908. He lived at 33 Upper Russell Street as well (Census 1901). I would love to see any old photos of either streets. Charles' family emigrated to New Zealand in 1972. I was born in Cuckfield but live in Christchurch, NZ with my family. We have continued the tradition of naming our son James which we can trace back to 1796.

By Cindy Hardy (16/01/2011)

Much of my feckless youth in the late 70s was spent skateboarding on the ramps of the old Churchill Square! Although the current Churchill Square seems very functional and utilitarian, it seems to lack the quirkiness and distinctiveness of the old one.

By Kevin (06/02/2011)

To Jackie Wickham, 29/10/07: There are two pictures of Blucher Place on the James Gray Collection, volume 29, images 106 and 107. The first picture is of my grandmother, Mrs Taylor, who was the last resident to leave in 1960 and who went to a tribunal. There also many photographs of the surrounding streets: Artillery St, Russell St, etc, also of my favourite fish and chip shop Bardsleys in Upper Russell Street.

By Snookerman (02/06/2011)

This is a message for Kim Dawes. Hi Kim, we must be related, I am the daughter of Patrict Dawes, the brother of Ted Dawes. Their mother was Sarah Dawes (nee Grinyer), and their dad was William Dawes. They were a very large family, one of which was Harold Dawes who died in Burma. My parents are still alive and live in Brighton, Sussex. I would love to hear from you. Best wishes, Sharon Witney

By Sharon Witney (20/11/2012)

Hi Kim, I forgot to say that the daughter that went to USA was in fact Nina and not Una. Nina is still very much alive and has children.

By Sharon Witney (03/12/2012)

I am Marina Dawes, the daughter of David (Gaffa) Dawes 

By Marina Dawes (27/08/2014)

This message is for Sharon Witney: Hi Sharon, my name is Linda. The daughter who went to USA was my Auntie Una, she was called Nina because when she was born my dad, her brother Ted, couldn't pronounce Una and used to call her Nina and the name stuck!  I always called her Auntie Nina and only found out years later that her name was Una when I contacted her on Facebook.

By Linda Thompson (nee Dawes) (01/06/2015)

The original Churchill Square opened before 1971. I worked in C&H there in 1970 (about where Topman is now) but I remember being in the stairwell at the back of BHS in about 1968-9, when it went nowhere. Some of the shops at the front were open, but the back was still being built. I bought a skirt for £4 19s 11d in Miss Selfridge in 1969, which I still have, but can't get it past my knee!

By Renia (14/12/2016)

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