Russell Square

Photo:Russell Square in the 1940s

Russell Square in the 1940s

Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

Growing up in the early 1950s

By Trevor Chepstow

As a boy growing up in Russell Square in the early 50's my life revolved around a small section of streets in the area. Churchill Square was still many years away and life was very simple, most cars came in one colour, black and supermarkets were unheard of, let alone colour televisions.

Western Road
Behind Russell Square was Western Rd with many well known shops such as Lipton's, Mc Fisheries, Wades, Plummer Roddis to mention a few. One of my earliest memories was being taken to Lipton's with my grandmother and watch the ladies pat half a pound of butter into the shape we are all familiar with today. Rationing was coming to an end, although many goods were still unavailable, produce was very simple compared with today's multicultural choice.

West Street
To the east lay the wondrous West Street with its bars, cinemas and of course the continuous throng of day-trippers heading for the beach in summer. At the bottom of West St there was Ritz roller rink, which was rather shabby and the type of place we were warned not to go to! Needless to say my friends and I took no notice of this advice. Most Saturdays were spent at the rink belting round the rink as fast as we could possible go on our hired skates! Virtually opposite was the rather grand Sports Stadium ice rink, where lines of little girls waited patiently to get in to their skating lesson, far too tame for us!

Early schooling
My early schooling came from St Paul's school, which was just behind the main church. The church being the hub of the community and was presided over with great vigour by the Reverend Chown and the Reverend Favell. Just across the Road was Tamplins Brewery (bottling plant) and further up the street the local meat market. Opposite the market was Lacroix's greengrocer where I worked as a delivery boy after school and Saturday mornings. My wages came to the grand total of fifty shillings including tips, which wasn't bad when you were nine years old! Many of the lads from the meat market would come into Molly Lacroix's for hot tea and her famous cheese and tomato rolls. Nearby was Bardsley's fish 'n' chips shop where in those days you would be hard pushed to carry six pence worth of chips, let alone eat them!

The long hot summers in the mid fifties were spent mainly of the beach at the bottom of Cannon Place where we would turn into little brown chestnuts in our ten week school holidays. Most days we would don flippers and masks and dive under the West Pier at low tide, many the day we would come back home laden with silver spoons the had been discarded from the café on the pier. Unfortunately these turned out to be silver-plated, nevertheless it was still treasure to eight and nine year olds.

To top up our pocket money we would scour the beach after the day trippers had gone and collect any bottles we could get the 2p deposit back from the off-licence. The highlight of any day spent on the beach was to visit the small sweet factory in St Margaret's Place. The owner would let us take as much as we wanted of Brighton rock that was broken! Always the perfect end to the day, guzzling Tizer and getting home looking a funny shade of green after eating too much rock!

Senior school
Eventually the day came that I had to go to senior school and duly trotted off to my first day at Fawcett secondary school in Pelham Place, Brighton. It was quite a shock after being at St Paul's and Middle Street, which were both mixed schools. Fortunately I was soon to make friends and suddenly being in a school of over five hundred boys didn't seem too bad.

By eleven years old my local friends and I had taken up ice-skating and were all very good skaters. So instead of the Ritz roller rink we were now lining up with the girls outside the ice rink and roller-skating was a distant memory. Our big heroes now were the "Brighton Tigers" ice hockey team and every free moment was spent thinking how we could play ice hockey and become better skaters. One of the big pluses of ice-skating was that there were girls at the rink, another new found attraction!

Brighton Tigers
Fortunately we all managed to join the "Brighton Tiger Cubs" which was set up to encourage youngsters to learn the game. Practice was Sunday morning at 6am and involved us having to clean the ice after our practice matches and making sure we left the rink by 10am, when it was open for general skating. Learning to clean the ice was a bonus, as it allowed us to get into the Sunday night ice hockey game to watch our heroes the "Tigers".

The ice had to be cleaned twice in a game and this necessitated a large jeep that would scrape the top of the ice off, followed by a team of guys who would scrape up the surplus ice into a large shoot. After this my friends and I who were called the "sweepers", would form a precision line and sweep the whole surface leaving a perfectly smooth surface for the next period of play. We were unpaid for our ice cleaning task but that was unimportant, as it allowed us to get in for free and watch the "Tigers" play.

Occasionally we did exhibition games after the "Tigers" match and played a shortened game for anyone that cared to stayed and watch us. Unfortunately most of the people had paid to see the professionals, but nevertheless we gave our hearts to the match, but were frequently disheartened as the crowd dwindled to a handful. The most important thing for us at the time, was that we were having the time of our lives and there was always some way to earn money at the rink doing odd jobs.

Demolition of the Sports Stadium
By the mid-sixties the whole area around Russell St and the bottom of West St was pretty run down and due for redevelopment, the Sports Stadium was finally demolished in 1965. The residents of Brighton were promised a new ice rink, unfortunately this was not to be and now in the year 2003 the City is still without this facility. Churchill Square came along in the mid-sixties and has since been redeveloped again. Most of my memories from childhood are contained in that small area I have mentioned, although some of the buildings remain and the house we lived in Russell Sq is there, the rest are ghosts of a bygone age.

My interest in the Sports Stadium came to light again in 1995 when a friend of mine asked about my days playing ice hockey at the SS Brighton. His sons were doing a project at Brighton College and he was interested to know if I had any photographs of those days that his boys could include in their project. I eventually found a couple he could copy and this set my mind working to find out if anyone had more photographs.

Start of a collection
A letter to the Evening Argus appealing to readers for information regarding the SS Brighton and was rewarded with a letter from a lady reader. Her husband had originally been involved with the rink as a speed skater and had started to put together the history of the rink. Unfortunately he had passed away before he could get far into the project, but she kindly gave me all that he had collected to date and this led me to my current collection.

The letter to the Argus started a domino effect as one person after another lead me to someone related to the rink. Eight years later this unique collection has grown to over four thousand photographs on all aspects of the rink and it's many patrons and stars that appeared there. Along the way I have also been very lucky to meet many of the stars that appeared at the rink and have amassed many items of memorabilia from them in their heydays. Many of the stars I've met through my project were the same stars I sat in front of all those years ago as a young boy, when they performed in the many ice spectaculars at the rink.

I hope this profile of my young days in a town that has changed beyond all recognition will bring back some memories to people who remember the SS Brighton. One lasting memory for people will be the famous "Tigers" as one of the greatest ice hockey teams in the country and Europe. Most people over the age of fifty would have had some connection with the SS Brighton, being the social hub of social Brighton in its heyday.

I trust my collection will be a fitting epitaph to a sporting and entertainment venue that the City of Brighton is unlikely to see again. In due course my collection that will be eventually donated to the City for future generations to study and appreciate a bygone era and its social implications.

See Trevor Chepstow's photos and history notes about the S.S.Brighton

Sent to website by e-mail on 14-7-03
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
The Bison Club was at the bottom of Trafalgar St, just round the corner from Fawcett Boys' and Margaret Hardy Girls' schools. I was at MH and used to go with my mates to the Bison Club and meet up with the boys from Fawcett - happy, happy days.
By Jenny Fraser-Smith (01/01/1997)
I lived in Russell Square for four years and have now moved just round the courner to Stone Street. What most people don't realise is that nearly all the houses have uneven floor boards, some far more then others, to the point that my family used to call my block of flats 'Wonky Towers'.
By Iain Gowers (27/01/2005)
My uncle has recently passed away and, whilst clearing out his house, I have found a lot of memorabilia connected with the Bison Club which was associated with Fawcett School. If anyone has any information about the Bison Club I would like to know, as I would like to contact them.
By Debbie Quinsee (04/06/2005)
Does the author remember a commercial vehicle distributors called Moores, based in Russell Square around 1948? I am restoring a tractor that has that name on it and would like to find out if they still exist in another form perhaps?
By Andy Fisher (24/10/2005)
My sister Wendy and I (surname Neale then) were pupils at the original St Paul's school, behind St Paul's church, in Little Russell Street. We used to have to go to a service every Wednesday morning, filing down the back stairs behind the assembley hall to go into the church from the back entrance. I remember Fathers Chown and Favell, they also came into the school to teach us Religious Knowledge and as I recall one of them would tap us (none too lightly) on the head with a ruler if not paying attention! Miss Mary Watts was the headmistress then (mid 1950s). I would love to hear from anyone from those days who would like to contact me on psilsby@optusnet.com.au. I am still in contact with Miss Watts who now lives in St Ives, although I have been in Australia since 1973. Trevor Chepstow's memories of Brighton then, before Churchill Square, brought it all flooding back. Does anyone remember Bert Bassett, Brightons Brightest Butcher?! My grandmother used to take us to Forfars for a cream tea and always brought home a freshly baked Hovis loaf. I also used to cheer on the Brighton Tigers in the later 1960s so probably saw Trevor playing. As the song says, thanks for the memories.
By Patricia Silsby (07/12/2005)

I well remember Bert Bassett.  His butcher's shop was on the corner of Grenville Place.  There was also Whitwells the greengrocer and a home-made cake shop.

By John Wignall (12/08/2007)

I was apprenticed at Moores Garage in Russell Square in 1961. It was owned by a Mr B S Cannell who had a car Reg'n no. BSC 1 We were distributors/main agents for Rolls Royce, Bentley and Jaguar cars. I was apprenticed to a mechanic Alan Scobie and our foreman was Gordon xxxx?
Among my customers were Gracie Fields, Dora Brian, Vera Lynn and Gilbert Harding. We also had the first Triumph Heralds on sale. We serviced the Daimler SP250 Darts for Bedfordshire Police which they used on the new M1 motorway and were the fastest production cars on the market at that time. At Moores we were very experienced in tuning multi-carburettor equipped engines and we used to do all high speed road tests along Madeira Drive. I was only allowed to go as a passenger and we certainly impressed the girls. I left after 4 years as I was going to Brighton Tech one afternoon and one evening a week to learn repair and engineering techniques but at that time we rarely repaired anything as any faulty item was replaced with a factory rebuilt/replacement unit. This didn't interest me.

By Neville Bolding (21/11/2008)

I am trying to trace the history of what I believe may have been the first Triumph Stag to have come to Moore's of Brighton. Does anyone who worked at Moore's remember these cars? It would have been June, July, August 1970.

By Aidan Platten (10/08/2009)

Hi, I don't know if I know anything, but I was apprenticed at "Moores of Brighton" from 1968-1973 and I do remember the stag coming out because that's all we did then "Triumph".I'll try, what is it you would like to know? 2. That was GORDON TUGWELL Neville.

By Ron (09/09/2009)

Hi Ron, I am trying to find out who might have owned my car and what its registration number was. It appeared in Brighton June 1970 and was registered on 1 August 1970. It is white with a black hood and black interior. Thanks.

By Aidan Platten (20/01/2010)

I have a Triumph Spitfire Mk3 (16-8-1968) in Wedgewood blue with REG No NCD 396G. The car was sold by Moores of Brighton, Russell Square. Today there is a car park. The previous owner was Irene Marshall from Hove. Does anybody know more? Thanks.

By Andreas Hunger (26/02/2010)

I am investigating the history of Moores of Brighton and an E Type (maroon body, fawn hood and beige interior) that they sold around 1965 and that I now own. I would be very grateful for any information and/or details of anyone I could make contact with to discuss. Thanks in anticipation.

By Peter Gentry (29/09/2010)

I served an apprenticeship, and worked as a mechanic at Moore's from 1962 to 1968. My mentor was Charlie Bowley, what a guy. Some of the other mechanics were Sid Blake, Reg Winterbourne, Rue Egler and Brian Wenham. Some of the other apprentices were: John Berry, Ray Phillps, (paintshop under Jock ?), Mike Scott (Rolls-Royce), John Bailey, Roy Spencer(electrician). The Triumph foreman was Ginger Lovejoy, he was a super guy. It was great working with Charlie, the owner Bill Cannell had a farm at the back of Brighton and whenever any of the tractors or equipment needed repair Charlie would take me with him to the farm for the day. I later worked on the Jags, and finally ended up doing the Jags and Daimlers, I did the funeral cars and hearses, I can't remember the name of the guy I took over from, but I remember he was always smoking his pipe. This part of the shop I worked with Nigel May, Rob Oram, and Gord Tugwell was the foreman, and Fred Thomsett was the manager, he later moved to a teaching place in Lancing and Ray Pope took his place. I remember one apprentice drove a new E Type nosefirst into a pit. John Bampton was the grease bay tech, he won the Second World War almost by himself. Sorry to those whose names I currently can't remember, but who can forget the two beauties in the upper office, Linda Haden and Jill Parsons. Moores was the greatest place to work, and had the best people to work for and with, unfortunately you do not realize how great people and places are until you are no longer with them. I consider my time at Moore's to be the best time of my life. I remember we formed a football team and joined a league, we played for two or three years I think, one guy was the partsman, a scot, he was a great footballer, I think he had a tryout for one of the major 1st div. Scottish teams. I have recently had some contact with John Berry and Nigel May, but as I now reside in Canada I have not seen anybody for many years.

By Charles Bodle (23/01/2011)

A very interesting read Charles. You obviously enjoyed your time working at Moore's. Unfortunately nowadays this kind experience is few and far between. Do you keep in contact with any of your old work colleagues?

By Peter Gentry (10/03/2011)

I worked for a summer in either 1966 or 67 at Moores. I had a mini with a stuffed clutch and managed to borrow enough gear to fix it. I had just finished my apprentiship in Northumberland and was used to working in small garages only. It was a bit daunting to start with but I soon got used to it. Petrol injection was just about out on the 2.5 Triumphs and I just loved the GT6. Even though I was not there very long i did enjoy it and got on well with all. I have fond memories of the place. I have lived in Australia since 1982 and have had my own garages and car yards since.

By Roly Taylor (13/04/2011)

There is a new thread on Moores started on the Sussex History Forum at www.sussexhistoryforum.co.uk that has a couple of old car pictures.

By John Vaughan (29/04/2011)

I apologize for my English. My name is Andrea and I write from Italy are in possession of a Land Rover Series IIA 109 1967 green bronze, elephant gray interior, with plate on both the right and left internal doors "supplied by distributor Moore - Russell Square Brighton" someone remember this car? Moore often arranged Land Rover?

By Andrea (22/07/2011)

"Moore's Cars" were located just behind Russell Square Brighton. They sold/serviced "posh end" cars, I think they were the main dealer for Jaguar and other prestigious cars. I'm not sure when the disappeared, but they were certainly there through the 1970's!

By Peter Groves (24/07/2011)

Moores also had showrooms selling Rolls Royce, Bentley and Jaguar cars at Mitre House, Western Road, Brighton in the 1960s and on the ground floor of the building that backs onto Pool Valley. The building in question being the one with a ceramic cat "climbing the wall", next to the Royal Albion Hotel in the Old Steine. I'm not sure when either of these closed.

By Alan Phillips (25/07/2011)

Hello Debbie I have only just seen your message on this post. I used to attend the Bison Club c.1959. You are welcome to contact me at fred.hards@yahoo.com

By Fred Hards (16/09/2011)

Were Moore's of Brighton also a Ferguson tractor dealership? I have seen their nameplate on a 1949 Ferguson owned by the Brighton Corporation

By A Barnes (04/11/2011)

Sorry not to have replied earlier, but yes - Moore's was a Massy Ferguson dealer prior to when I started in '62. In fact it was quite some time earlier, as it had been an established car dealership for several years prior to my working there. In fact there was what was left of an old blacksmith shop at one end, although it had not been used for that for several years

By Charles Bodle (17/05/2012)

Sadly, Trevor Chepstow who wrote the original article on Russell Square died, far too young, a couple of years ago. He was a true Brightonian, passionately interested in all aspects of the town and especially the SS Brighton. We both had to adjudicate on a Brighton History Centre open evening where people brought along family memorabilia and we had the job of assessing its historical value. Trevor even brought his own stuff along [he did not win!] and the pictures of him in the early 1960s on the beach were so evocative of that era. He was smart, dapper and a real snappy dresser, a real 'Brighton boy'. He is greatly missed by friends and local historians.

By Geoffrey Mead (18/05/2012)

Hi all, does anyone know anything about land Rover series 2As sold at Moore Garage in March 1969? I curently own OCD 675G and would love to know some of its history, especially if the original owner is still out there!

By Sam Monks (19/02/2013)

Hi. My name is Peter Tibbs and I was an apprentice mechanic at Moores of Brighton from March 1967 till March 1974. I remember Sid Blake, Frank and Alf Stacey, Rege Winterborn, Chas Bower? Ray Pope and others.

By Peter Tibbs (16/03/2013)

Hi I'm Ron Edmonds (ron101@ntlworld.com), I think I know Peter Tibbs. l started at MOORES in (I think) September 1968 in the Triumph bay with Reg Winterborn, as his lad. I'm 62 in September. Did you start in the Jaguar bay, Peter?

By Ron Edmonds (17/03/2013)

Hi Ron. To be honest I do not remember you. I started on the new Triumph cars bay under Sid Blake. I was employed fitting number plates, seat belts etc. I did do a decoke on an s type Jaguar. I remember to valve spring compreser was something boged out of an old track rod and it "let go" and scarred my forehead to this day. I left the motor trade in the seventies and I now live in Norfolk.

By Peter Tibbs (18/03/2013)

To all of those above enquiring about their, (now old!) cars which were supplied by Moores; All the records for the Brighton Registrations, CD, UF, and the East Sussex (Lewes) AP, PM, PN, NJ, etc, series are available at the East Sussex Record Office at Lewes. I have been to look at these several times in connection with researching old cars but the problem is that most of the Registration Numbers that were issued to garages, agents, and distributors like Moores, Brittains, Caffyns, Mansfields etc, were allocated in batches of ten or twenty numbers and the records mostly only show for instance 'Moores' at the top of these lists and 'ditto' for the next nine or so numbers down the page. Only on very few is the name and address of the first owner shown. Some only have the make of car the number went to and no other details but some do show the chassis number. Also these numbers weren't necessarily used in order by the garages as they might allocate a number to a 'stock' vehicle which might be in the showroom unregistered for a couple of months. If it was a 'one off' sale rather than a sale of a 'stock' vehicle then more details seem to have been recorded. It is very 'hit and miss' and seemed to vary as to who made the entry in the register, but it is always worth a check if you have time to go to Lewes and have a look. I think they will do a look-up for you but a small fee is charged for their time. Another thing to remember is that if they sold a car across the County boundary line westwards it would probably have been registered in West Sussex. This wasn't absolutely necessary but the customer might have requested a 'local' number, and from memory West Sussex were so much more helpful than East Sussex as far as registering cars was concerned! The West Sussex, BP, PO, etc records are at Chichester. They were done in a slightly different format and might contain more details. Any other information feel free to email me Tim(at)permanden.co.uk and I will try to help if you have any further details to go on. A small correction to Neville above also; B S Cannell had the personal number BSC500 and this was used on many of their demonstration cars. BSC1 has been owned by someone in Edinburgh since it's first issue. Mention of Moores showroom in Pool Valley reminds me that they had a lift to take cars up to the first floor which we used to watch while waiting for the Southdown bus out to Worthing.

By Tim Sargeant (19/03/2013)

PETE you was in the new car bay on the right as you go out of MOORES there was TOM too who used to sell petrol on the pump out side the NCB and wash the wax of the new cars too. Ahh decoke I remember. I don't think they do many now, the cars run on cleaner fuel. I also left in 1973 and went to CAFFYNS. There was FRED and ALF just up from you in the paint shop.

By Ron Edmonds (19/03/2013)

My mother worked in the glove department of Plummer Roddis in the 1930s. She told us that above the store were bedrooms and a sitting room for the staff; so she lived above the store. When she married she moved to Hull in Yorkshire. Her maiden name was Bessie Salter.

By Jenny Rhodes (09/05/2014)

It was a suprise to find so many of the old apprentices still alive and kicking on this forum. Its a great shame that many have moved permanently abroad, else I would suggest a meal and a pint.

By John Bailey (21/12/2015)

Hi John Bailey. I believe you and I worked together at Moore's. Were you not apprenticed to Reg Winterborne? Sadly John Berry passed last year. I emigrated to Canada in 1969 but did have some contact with John. I remember some of the antics John played on everybody, nobody was sacred, everyone had to keep an eye out. I still have some contact with Nigel May, do you ever hear about Roy Spencer? He was apprenticed to the electrician. 

By Charles Bodle (24/01/2016)

I can remember many happy days at the weekends roller skating at the roller rink at the bottom of West Street in the 1940/50s. We - that's my brother and sister - loved it, and we met our wives there.

By Barry Upton (28/01/2016)

Ah yes, I remember John Berry (RIP)  and his antics at Moore's Garage. There was also John Blackman who hasn't been mentioned. As already said, a great place to work and good colleagues too.

By Neville Bolding (27/03/2016)

Hi Charles. Yes indeed we did and yes I was. Good old Reg - what a mech!. Sad to hear about John - I do remember him - wasn't John Spencer sent to the stores for a long wait? Sadly that's all I have time for at this moment. My regards to all who remember me.

By John Bailey (21/10/2016)

My dad bought a carmen red Jaguar Mk2 from Moore's of Brighton in the 60s. He says the mechanics loved it as it was a John Coomb's racer that was supplied or owned by Mr Cannell. Can't remember the reg number but can anyone remember a very fast Coombs Mk2 having work done or being sold? Any information would be fantastic.

By Richard William Brewster (27/01/2017)

Coombs of Guildford were Jaguar agents in their own right. They tuned a lot of Jags for privateer racers in the 50s and 60s, apart from the very special modified lightweight cars they did for their own racing. You should have seen the Coombs and Sargent & Parks and other Jags drifting round Woodcote corner at Goodwood - sometimes two or even three abreast with only inches between them! Motor racing just isn't like that now. Coombs ran their own cars on BUY1, BUY12, BUY1B, BUY3, and several similar numbers. Apart from the 3.8s they also did well with E Types and had owned at least one D Type. Somewhere I have some 16mm film of racing at Goodwood including one of the nine hours which my father took, and a recording of the commentary. Without further information, especially a registration number or photo it will be difficult to identify the car your father had. There is a page specifically about Moores elsewhere on this site [click here] which it might be worth you posting on.

By Tim Sargeant (27/01/2017)

Thanks Tim for the reply. It's been a life-long dream of mine to find my Dad's old Mk2 Coombs Jaguar. He says he walked past the showroom off Preston Streett in 1966 and fell in love with it! He remembers it had an E Type spec, full race engine with triple carbs and went like a rocket all over Brighton. He has never forgotten it till this day. He sold it to Mr David Hart the owner of Alfa coaches Brighton in aprox 1969. Sadly Dad came upon it by chance in the street in Wembley in 1971 or 72, it was owned by a scruffy young man who did not know what he had got!. It was looking sad and used as a banger! The mechanics at Moore's loved wheel spinning it up the road on the services that my dad had them do. If only Moore's service records were somewhere? I live near Guildford where Coombs built it. My dad is 73 now so has not seen his beloved Coombs road racer for 50 years but the memories of a young Mr Brewster in a pinstripe suit with a Brighton belle on his arm flat out on Madeira Drive, are as if it was yesterday. Memory lane hey! PS he nearly got the Coombs E Type that was next to it in the showroom  at the same time but the Brighton belle didn't like it!

By Richard William Brewster (28/01/2017)

I wonder if you are able to help me. I own a  Green 1967 Daimler V8 250 which was supplied new by Moores of Brighton to a Miss P. Lane. I am trying to research the history of the car and would like to find out who Miss Lane was and if any of the older  local residents might remember the car.

 

By Dennis Mynard (05/08/2017)

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.