Where to go for a good time

Photo:The Regent Ballroom in the 1950s

The Regent Ballroom in the 1950s

From a private collection

Memories of 1950s Brighton

By Harry 'Bluey' Atkins

Closing time
The only difference, in my opinion, between the nightlife of Brighton in the 50s compared to today, are the closing times of pubs etc. The pubs shut at 10.30pm, most of the cinemas finished about that time and the coffee bars closed before 11pm.

Coffee bars
There was an abundance of coffee bars. There was Paisley's in North Street, a beatnik coffee bar (pre-hippie) opposite Ship Street above the snooker hall, the Milk Bar and the Caribbean in Queens Road, the Mogambo in West Street and the famous Whisky-A-Go-Go with the Blue Gardenia Club above it. I could name loads more but my favourite was my friend's gran's café called Ma's at the corner of Frederick Gardens. We could stay there a bit longer and if you were broke, have things on tick. It was great in there.

SS Sport Centre and ice rink
Although we didn't have nightclubs as they do today, we had places that the present day youngster would envy. For a start we had the S.S. Sport Centre in West Street. This was a great place. There was a huge ice rink where, on Sundays, the Brighton Tigers Ice Hockey Team played. You had wrestling with all the big names of that time: Davie Garfield, Masked Zebra Kid, Less Kellett, Johnny Kwango and many others. If you wanted coffee you had the Paris Lounge, and if you wanted alcohol you had the Long Bar upstairs which had live music as well as a jukebox. All the big Tim Arnold Ice Circuses were shown there and pantomimes on ice.

The Ritz roller rink
Just up the road you had the Ritz roller rink, a huge indoor roller skating rink. Thursday night was cabaret night and cost 2s 6d (12 1/2p) and was a brilliant night out. At the end of the evening everyone used to link waists and formed what we called the snake. As the front slued round, the rear went so fast you smashed against the wall and bad luck!

Regent Ballroom
Up further at the corner of Queens Road and North Street was the magnificent Regent Ballroom. It was the scene of many happy days for my friends and I. Big bands, big beats and plenty of partners! Downstairs you had the cinema and even further lower in the building you had the Galleon Bar. This was a big bar which looked like the inside of a ship and when there was a long film in the cinema they'd open the folding doors and let you in for a drink during the interview. You got back in the cinema by showing your ticket.

This page was added on 14/02/2007.
Comments about this page

The S. S. Brighton was never referred to as a sport centre but was either the Sports Stadium or the SS Brighton. The company that originally owned it was the Sports Stadium (Brighton) Ltd. My father was the first company secretary and later general manager.

By Peter Bailey (20/02/2007)

We would go to the Regent most Saturday nights. It had a wonderful bouncy dance floor. Syd Dean was the leader of the resident band for a long time and was very good. We loved to dance (and chat up the boys) at the weekend.

By Pat Brewerton (nee Gammon) (11/03/2007)

We used to go to the Regent Ballroom. Thursday night was record night - 2/6 to get in. Terrific bouncy floor. They used to play Ricky Nelson's 'It's Late' as the last dance. I used to change into my friend's highheels as Mum didn't allow me to have them! Such good times.

By Sandie Waller (nee Taylor) (24/05/2007)

I used to ice skate every week with friends at The SS Brighton, I think it was the first place that I had hot blackcurrant in a glass mug. We were there on the last night and had a wonderful time, it was a great loss to Brighton when it closed. We also roller skated across the road in The Ritz Roller Rink. I can remember well the roller boots that were worn out and had no support for the ankles. When I was older I met my husband in the mid sixties in The Milk Bar which was about half way up Queens Road on the left hand side going towards the station. We used to go dancing in the Regent Ballroom on Saturdays and were engaged in The Golden Galleon round the corner from the Regent in Queens Road.

By Marion Goodwin (31/05/2007)

Sandie, you brought back happy memories. l remember the record 'its late' by Ricky Nelson, it was about 9.30pm and it was my cue to get my skates on to run for the bus to be home by 10pm,before my dad started to make for the bus stop, reminding me l was late. How did we pack so much in in such a short evening. Night Clubs! What were they?

By Sheila Jones (02/09/2007)

Doesn't anyone remember the coffe bar run by Percy at the bottom of North Road just along from the King and Queen? I spent many an hour or two listening and jiving to the jukebox with only one bottle of Coca Cola to last all night.

By Wendy Jackson (nee Woodham) (24/04/2008)

I love this site which is a real trip down Memory Lane. I was born in 1951 and lived in Lansdowne Place in Hove. I remember visiting a panto that was on ice when I was about 3 years old. It must have been Goldilocks and the Three Bears as I recall a bear getting out of bed and reaching beneath to pull out a chamber pot which he then sat on. About that time there was also a travelling musical group that always seemed to be near the Clock Tower. I now know they were baseing themselves on Flanagan and Alan. Again, I was about 3 or 4 years of age and I used to enjoy seeing them 'dance/walk' along the streets which also had the tracks in the roads for the buses to run on although I don't actually remember seeing any buses on them. A few years on and Union Jack flags were hung out of windows to celebrate the start of a new decade, (something you don't see now) as we moved into the 1960's. They were also hung out to celebrate Princess Margaret's wedding to Lord Snowden. There was another great turn out when the circus came to town. They paraded along Western Road on their way to Hove Park. The traffic was diverted while cages of animals travelled through the street, and young women rode on the necks of elephants or on horseback. There were so many people I had to climb on one of those green boxes that contain grit, so that I could see it all. I remember many Sunday evenings at the Top Rank Suite dancing to Syd Dean and his Orchestra, which I assume they moved to after the Regent closed, and doing the March of the Mods or the Can Can. I can remember buying tickets to see Pink Floyd appear there also, must have been about 1967. My favourite haunt was the Starlight Rooms. No license to serve alcohol, you would get your hand stamped so you could go to the pub across the road for a drink, then return to the Starlight. It was always pitch dark in there and I don't recall any seats or tables. The youngsters at work laugh at me now when I tell them I once met a man called Jesus in there! They all say they didn't think I was that old! Cheeky monkeys.

By Lyn_Ok (01/05/2008)

I remember the Starlight having spent many very happy hours there as a teenager. I remember going out to the pub in Oriental Place and having my hand stamped. The Starlight was very dark, no windows, divided into rooms and I expect a real health and safety hazard but fantastic at the time. Do you remember the lighting used to show your bra if it was white? One night was for live bands and I went out with one of the performers! He was with The Mojo Hands and played at school discos. Happy days.

By Pat Smith (nee Questier) (18/05/2008)

Regarding the comments above about the Starlight Rooms and the mention of The Mojo Hands, there is a website dedicated to the Brighton of the sixties: www.brightonbeat.com
All the local bands of the sixties are listed including the Mojo Hands, who brightonbeat would like to contact, along with any other local bands with information.
There is also a section on all the local dance places including the Regent and the Starlight Rooms.

By Trevor Duplock (24/08/2008)

Hi Pat Smith!  This is Garry from the Mojo Hands (tenor sax). Who were you going out with? Was it Trev? Do you remember anyone else from the group - Danny Nibbs was our vocalist.

By Garry Gelade (12/12/2008)

Did anyone recall the wrestling at the sports stadium on Saturdays? Sky Hi Lee, Great Tojo, "Dropkick" Johnny Peters and "Dazzler " Joe Cornelius, Benny Lee at the top of the stairs, always immaculately dressed, welcoming customers.
The Ritz amusement arcade opposite was always a good meeting place, along with Chatfields at the bottom of West Street. Maybe it was because of my youth but there was a definate buzz around the town then.

By micky sutton (21/12/2008)

Does anyone remember the Zodiac club in the 1950s in Brighton?

By Michaela (20/02/2009)

I remember the Whisky a Go Go, I started working there at the age of fourteen, in 1960 (much to my parents disgust) I guess I was a kind of mascot! My friend Bob's older brother used to work part time for Harvey Holford (his name was Bill Challand) a great character who unfortunately is no longer with us. I started out by taking the money for tickets at the gate by the top of the steps at weekends. There were some very well known legendary local hard men who used to frequent the place, but they never caused me any harm, they just used to smile and pay up; I guess they felt sorry for me outside freezing to death! It was well known that the occasional fight would break out with very little warning, I was always told to get out quick when they started, these were more frequent when the London boys came down for the weekend. I was befriended (adopted) by two older girls nicknamed "Bubbles and Squeak" but I knew them as Bubbles and Christine, they were old friends of Bill's, They had a way of dancing that had me mesmerised,they used to have their hands joined in a criss-cross fashion behind their backs somehow, they were great dancers. There was a scruffy guy with a beard, long hair and an old army great coat who often wondered in with an expensive camera, he had a habit of photographing anyone who happened to be there, whether they wanted a photograph or not. He must have taken thousands of photographs down there over the years, you could buy them if you wished, problem was he never rushed himself, so you had to wait forever. If that photo collection could be found it would make a fantastic social history snapshot of life in Brighton - circa 1960! Another thing I remember was that the coffee bar was so notorious it became the subject of a very early television documentary by Daniel Farson ( I think that was the guy's name - I also think the programme was called the Farson Report), however - during the course of this program he was interviewing a few shop girls who were on a lunch break from the local Woolworth's in Western road - it was later stated that the day after the programme had gone out these girls were sacked from their jobs just for being in there! I also remember one late afternoon someone had not turned up for work, so I had to help serve behind the counter, later in the evening someone came in looking for someone to settle a score with, unfortunately he was leaning on the bar - the next thing I knew the guy had picked up the cake and sandwich display case and smashed it over the other guy's head - he ended up wearing it like a jacket - his head was poking through the top and the case was resting on his shoulders - he had lettuce in his hair and all sorts of edible shrapnel all over his suit. There was never a dull moment there, but I loved the place, some great friends and memories were made in that tiny basement.

By Barry Plank (23/02/2009)

Regarding the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, I was too young to frequent it (15 in 1963) but my Father was a Detective Sergeant called to the Club on the night of Christine Holford's murder by Harvey her husband. Harvey eventually served three years for the deed. My Mum worked at Boots in Western Road and told me that store detectives from Boots were aware some of the shop workers sold stolen goods in the Club in their lunch breaks but could not prove it. Other night spots I remember were the 66 Club in the basement of The Art College, and King's Club which I frequented later in the early 70s. The Lighthouse Club was another spot -we would drive out to near Shoreham and the Place Club which I think was more Southwick way? They were all good haunts and the 70s continued the great scene as the 60s had before. Can anyone remember Sussex University dances? I saw some big name groups at the Student Union Bar including Procul Harem, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Julie Driscoll to name a few. Awesome times

By Mike Church (17/05/2009)

Not everything finished by 11 o'clock in the 50s. I played guitar with the Les Jowett Seven in 1958 at the Vanguard Jazz Club in New Road. We had late night sessions there on Saturdays which started around 11 and finished at 3 in the morning. Musicians who had played elsewhere came in and jammed after their gigs. I don't think we earned much money but there were always a few customers right up to closing time.

By Pat Benham (17/05/2009)

Remember the Martinique Jazz Band, also known as the Benny Simpkins Trio/Quartet/Sextet. They played in various pubs in Brighton. Later they played at the Gay Highlander in Peacehaven. I and my pal, the late Arthur Barnard, used to follow them around, lugging our Akai M4 tape recorder.
Other names spring to mind. A group who called themselves,The Problems. We recorded them in the dining room above the Emeries Hotel,Queens Road. Bill Poley - the oldie time washboard band?Ken Collier was also around at some point. Those were the days.

By Ron Charlton. (18/06/2009)
I remember the "Whiskey" and the television documentary, which my mum saw and forbade me to go there again. Needless to say I used to sneak back. I can still remember not being able to move, everyone was so crushed up, it was like that most of the time. Fabulous. Harvey Holford used to ride around the town in a big American flashy car. We used to go to the Lounge up North Street, the building was almost derelict - one of my favourite haunts. The others were the Malacca, White Feathers, Istanbul - so many coffee bars. I worked at the Co-op in London Road for a while, up in the office. We used to empty the money from those magical money cylinders and working in the punch card office was like something from Dickens' days. The Supervisor (can't remember his name) sat on a chair at the front on an elevated dias, watching all us young girls didn't waste time! Happy days
By Terrie Hounsome (07/07/2009)
I can remember going to loads of coffee bars in the late 50s-early 60s. I remember the  Whiskey-a-go-go in Queen's Square. When it was done up and reopened they had Screaming Lord Sutch and his band in there.Then there was the Little Chef in Marlborough Place. It attracted quite a few bikers. There was the Groove, later the Zodiac in St James's Street above Hilton's shoe shop; the Place Piggelle in Richmond Place; the Bar-J in St George's Place; the Lounge in North Street; the Cheeka in West Street; the Mallacca in Duke Street; the Chateau Rouge in West Street; the Scandinavian (The Scan) Western Road; White Pigeons Waterloo Street; Margo's in Cross Street; it didn't open til 10 p.m. The Gondola in Church Road Hove. There are two I can't remember the names. One was in Bedford Place and one where Churchill Square is now, above one of the shops near where Dorothy Norman's was. I am sure there were several more that I have missed. Any suggestions?
By Ron James (26/07/2009)

The Instanbul was above Dorothy Normans in Western Road.

By Terrie Hounsome (28/07/2009)

Does anyone remember the coffee bar in George Street in Hove? It was a bikers' coffee bar and the record which was played to death was "Concrete and Clay".

By Sandie (21/08/2009)

I was born in 1947 near Seven Dials and so enjoyed the days of the coffee bars. The Zodiac, never forgotten, I met my past husband there and spent hours over hot chocolates - listening to the latest on the juke box, then popping across the road and down the little street opposite to the Seven Stars pub for a BabyCham with my friends- we felt so, so daring (under-age). Then the White Pigeons was a great place, as was the Scandinavia and the (quieter) Penny Farthing in East Street. But no one has mentioned The Cottage up the little alley off Middle Street. I worked there for Mike many a night to save for holidays. Up in the attic the "boys" sometimes played cards. These memories overlap the period when I worked as part of the window display team at Hanningtons, the endless basements and upper corridors linking all the historic workrooms and storerooms was amazing. My fellow junior (Stella - are you still around) and I were always a little scared going to the basement under the East Street section, as it appeared that behind closed doors the tunnels would connect to those believed to link the Pavilion to Mrs Fitzherberts home. Some of Hanningtons store/work rooms were to the south and next to derelict land, all of which became the New Brighton Square in the 60s. I was also taught to use the wonderful "cord and plug" telephone switchboard here, and was so distraught when I carelessly unplugged the chairman Sir Ivor. I often tell friends about the Chinese Jazz Club in the aquarium buildings. Wow! Was that great jiving exercise?  I could keep going hours in those days. I remember we also went to the dances at the YMCA in the Steine. But one of my great dance memories was when the Jazz groups/jam sessions happened on a sunny, summer weekend on the fish-market hard (where the Honey Club now exists). I recall understanding that these musicians were from London universities, but maybe not so. It was the "beatnik" look as my dad said. I wore an old shirt of his over my swimwear, a trend of the time, when dancing/jiving there. Although not a live-long sports supporter, I just loved watching the Tigers Ice Hockey team play - yelling and encouraging them on. There are so many images that flash into my mind - but I don't remember the names. Those aerial cash canisters did exist in other shops, was it Sainsbury's or the International or even Vokins.

By Simone Walton (01/09/2009)

Those were the days, I worked on the door of the Vanguard jazz club in New Road, and after that closed , on the door at the King Alfred when Les Jowett moved there. I still have the E.P. that Les recorded on January 20th 1957, the line up was Les (trumpet), Mike Collier (trombone), Stu emsley (clarinet and sax), Geoff Berry (guitar) ,Roy Evenett (bass), Dickie Neaves (drums), and Bernie Waterman (piano). Aside from being the pianist Bernie was also my barber. Whilst working at the Vanguard I had the pleasure of meeting Humphrey Lyttleton and Chris Barber, and both of them were charming. I would also like to say what a lovely person Ida, Les's wife was. Now to the coffee bar scene - I loved Tingeys where I first heard Little Richard (still my favourite rocker), and frequented White Rabbits, Margos, Cordoba, and the Coffee Lounge, where I met the most beautiful girl I have ever seen (check out Dorrie Butlin's website). Unfortunately many of these people and places have now gone and cannot be replaced, even the dear old Hippodrome, where I spent many an enjoyable evening, but oh what memories I have. Now in my dotage I still get a kick when I see movies showing shots of old Brighton, and pangs of nostalgia set in, and reading some of the letters above mentioning people and places that I knew make those feelings stronger. If anyone who reads this remembers me, I wish you all the best.

By Alan Barnett (03/09/2009)

Does anyone remember the Florida Rooms where the Sea Life Centre is? It was great, always a good group on for live music, you got your hand stamped when you went in a bit like the Starlight Rooms. Brighton was buzzing with all the Mods and Rockers, we thought we were so Mod with our short cut hair, calf lenth skirts and mini swede coats, which we saved to buy, all in dark brown with leather collars; we danced in them all evening up the Regent and when it closed we went down the Top Rank. Does any one remember the two sue and shirley?

By Sue Jenner (nee Chapman (29/09/2009)

I sent in the comment above yours, I also worked on the door at the Florida Rooms, where your hand was probably stamped by me. The music was rock and roll, and the band was Don Sollash and the Rockin' Horses, there was a great atmosphere but too much trouble, and now those hooligans are probably today's grandparents decrying the current crop of troublemakers.

By Alan Barnett (01/10/2009)

Hi Micky,yes the wrestling on Saturday night, great my favourite Billy Two Rivers always finished with a war dance then the tommahawk chop, but they were all great Jonny Kwango, Les Kellet, Quasimodo, Mick Mcmanus,and the ballet dancer whose name I've forgotten,and then on to the Taj Mahal for a curry. Happy days

By Roger Durrant (11/10/2009)

With reference to coffee bars. I remember Paisley's in North Street, the windows were shaped like a pair of spectacles; The Carribean in Queens Road; The Milk Bar, also in Queens road; The Miami in West Street; The Ballerina, in George Street Hove; The Bikers Haunt; and The Langham Cafe, in Chesham Place. These were but a few.

By Harry Atkins (26/10/2009)

I remember the Little Chef in Marlborough Place with fond memories, it was where l met my husband back in 1959, two weeks before my sixteenth birthday, and still going strong. l don't know how we packed so many people in such a tiny place, but it was cosy and informal. So much coffee drunk. l remember older boys drank Merry Down and Blackcurrant. As far as l can remember ther was never any trouble, if there was it was usually over a girl. Same as the Regent, any squabble was over a girl. There was the Cheeka down West Street, and the Glenside in Grand Parade, if my Dad had a jist that l had gone to these ,l would never be allowed out.The pubs were The Galleon, the P.G.

By Sheila Jones (01/11/2009)

I gather Harvey Holford shot his wife five times at the club, so three years in the nick seems rather lenient. She was apparently having a tryst with John Bloom of washing machine fame at the time, so Mr Holford must have got himself into a bit of a spin, and received a diminished responsibility sentence as a result.

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (22/11/2009)

Re the comments on the Zodiac from Simone (above). I remember Simone from the early sixties at the Zodiac and the visits to the Star in Manchester street. I remember giving her a lift on my motorbike from Davigdor Road to Hanningtons a couple of times. I knew she was young but under age? Tut Tut Simone. Happy days.

By Gordon Coleman (23/11/2009)

What memories; I lived in Peacehaven and missed the last bus home from Brighton many times. I attended Kingscliff House School, now part of Brighton College, I believe, between 1952-54 run by the Hooper family . David Fielding, Beverley Sharp, and  Martin Woodhouse I particularly remember. My first job at 15 was in a Solicitors, Parker & Robinson, 8 Marlborough Place and many lunchtimes were spent in Percy's coffee bar.

By Barry White (29/11/2009)

1957/62 I used to work in an office at Norwich Union House on the corner of Church Street, I too spent many lunchtimes dancing by the juke box and drinking coffee. I helped out there in the eveing for a while serving frothy coffee. Diane worked there in the mornings, a prim & proper miss. Does anyone remember the Norfolk Arms opposite?

By Jacquie (21/12/2009)

I enjoyed looking at this site and reading about Brighton in the 1950s. I had the privilege of serving with the RAF in Brighton 1957/1958 at 3701 Radar Reporting Unit at 'Leahurst' a large Victorian house on the London Road at Withdean. What a time we had! I enjoyed the Jazz clubs and the pubs of Brighton. I became friendly with the late 'Mike Collier' who played trombone for 'Les Jowett Band'. We used to drink together at the famous 'Caxton' Pub near Brighton Station. The pub was run by the famous George and Lilian Griffin and every night was fun and full of characters, mainly from the Brighton film studios. I vividly remember walking in one night and seeing Christopher Lee sitting at the bar dressed in full Gestapo Uniform, reading the Brighton Argus. I saw Count Basie, Kid Ory, Red Alan and many other Jazz legends at the 'Dome'. Many nights at the 'Penny Farthing' Coffee Bar in East Street. Many happy memories of Brighton when it really was a delightful place to live. Sadly I had to leave there in early 1958 and travel to 'Christmas Island' to witness 'H bombs' exploding. What a comparison.

By Charles James (10/01/2010)

I was just running through sites about the Hove area, since i'm planning on going to Sussex Uni next year, when I fell on this delightful page and particularly on your comment, Charles James. See, my father was actually the 'Les Jowett Band' trombonist Mike Collier but he died in 1999, and I unfortunately didn't have enough time to hear about all his experiences of Brighton. Reading about them here really is a joy. I didn't even know he used to hang out at the Caxton.

By Laetitia Collier (13/02/2010)

I remember the Florida rooms really well. You had your hand stamped when you paid to go in. I saw The Who for the first time in 1965 (or 66) as a young mod. We danced to ska, soul etc and I loved Billy Preston's track 'Billy's Bag'. King Gerry was the DJ at the time. I also remember the Zodiac at the bottom of St James Street. It had the usual juke box at the time and frothy coffee! My friends and I would choose Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin records! Brighton was a great place to be then!

By Teresa Watkins (01/05/10) (02/05/2010)

I would welcome the opportunity to get in touch with Laetitia Collier who has posted a message on this site concerning her late father, Mike Collier, former trombonist with the Les Jowett Band in Brighton in the 1950's.

By Charles James (05/06/2010)

I would also be pleased to contact Laetitia. I used to play guitar in the Les Jowett band with Mike on trombone. I also kept in touch a bit with him in later years. There are still some musicians around that I know who were closer to him than I was as I moved away in 1960.

By Pat Benham (06/06/2010)

I have checked around and find that some musicians who knew Mike also know of Laetitia so my thoughts to pass on info to her about the Jowett band are now most likely unnecessary. As well as playing trombone, Mike was a dentist and was sought after by brass players who needed good teeth as he understood what was wanted from both sides.

By Pat Benham (04/07/2010)

Just found this site - another trip down memory lane! Only one slight quibble; King Jerry wasn't the first DJ there, I was there from 1965 to 1967 Uncle Bonny is still alive and kicking! Spoke to him some months ago; also had a chat with John Mayall about the times he played there back in '67.

By Roy Hatley (18/08/2010)

I left Brighton in 1965 when I was almost 16 and moved to Nottingham. I used to go to Little Chef, Bar J, Carribean and best of all The Whiskey a Go Go. I was a rocker and was nicknamed Jingle as with all my studs and horsebrasses that's the noise I made going down the steps. I went in a trendy dress one night and no one recognised me. I've still got my leather, would not part with it! I'm still a biker aged 61, can't be bad.

By Anne Ball (nee Newman) (29/09/2010)

As a teenager in the late 50s and 60s, I was one of the biker girls who spent nearly every night in the Little Chef. What great memories I have of that place. Jiving in a very small space to records on the juke box. And riding around on the back of motorbikes - much to my mother's disgust. I met my first husband in there who was from Manchester and working in Brighton at the time. I left Brighton in 1964 to live in the Manchester area. A couple of names I remember are Andrew Eggington (ex boyfriend) who had a sister Judy, Marnie and Sue Clark, Dave Betts and little Colin. I also spent a lot of time rockin' and rollin' at the Regent Ballroom. Also a keen ice skater and Brighton Tigers' supporter. Happy days - would like to turn the clock back. Does anyone remember the Princess cinema in North Street? It only ever showed cartoons, I used to spend full days sitting in there when I was a young child. I was in Brighton a week ago for a family funeral, can't believe how much it's changed - a lot of it not for the better. From a sometimes homesick ex pat.

By Pamela (nee Gooch) (07/11/2010)

The mid 50's We use to go down from London on the paper train, arriving in the early hours of Sunday morning. This was after being to Eel Pie Island jazz club in Twickenham or one of the clubs in London. We would dance on the hard by Brighton beach to a jazz band. We all usde to wear men's duffle coats and indian sandals (flipflops) Great memories

By Josie (16/01/2011)

I used to work at the Whisky serving coffee in 1960.What great days they were - it was packed on a Sunday afternoon. Wonder if anyone remembers the Twist contest they had there in the 60s, it lasted two days. Also used to go to the Flordia Room on a Sat night, and the Regency Ball room. Great days. My name, before I was married, was Shirley Hawes, and I was born in Brighton. I now live in the USA. Love to hear from some friends

By SHIRLEY (25/02/2011)

So many memories and what fun, dancing to Syd Dean playing Skin Deep, rushing to catch the last train home, sometimes having to walk with stiletto shoes in hand from Brighton to Portslade. Rock and roll top stars at the Hippodrome - Johnny Ray, Dickie Valentine, Tommy Steele (got sent out for dancing in the aisle), wonderful Sammy Davis who carried on stage after band had left. Rush around to back stage to collect autographs. Coffee bars - so many of them, sharing a cup of coffee in two, spending more on jukebox, how did we manage to do so much with so little money? Anyone remember the jazz concert held in Hove town hall, a lot more room than some of the jazz cellars - full of smoke and no escape exit. I worked in the Gondola coffee bar when juke boxes were hanging on the walls in little cubicles seating 4 to 6 people. I am still trying to find lost friend Mary Gibbs, if anyone can help?Wish, like many more, one could turn the clock back. Always a Brighton girl at heart. Keep memories coming

By yvonne crowther carratu (27/02/2011)

Does anyone remember the name of the coffee bar that was at top end of West Street on the right hand side down in the basement? We had some good times there. Also there was a place on the seafront opposite Volks railway which was called The Seagull, it was a restaurant during the day and a coffee bar at night. I remember we had some good nights dancing to the music on the juke box, it was owned by a Greek family. I think it's still there.

By Kathleen Catt (01/04/2011)

The place that Kathy refered to at the top of West Street, in a basement was called the Cheeka Coffee Bar, and I remember the seagull opposite Volks. It was run by a Greek Cypriot called Vick. I was involved in a big fight there and was thrown head first into the juke box smashing it to bits.

By Duffy Watkins (01/05/2011)

Prior to joining the RAF in January 1960,  spent my teenage years in Brighton. Big jazz fan then (and now) and remember the jazz club at The Aquarium fondly. Bottle green cords and a black turtle neck watching Chris Barber and Humphrey Lyttelton - those were the days. Ian Hunt (Alberta, Canada)

By Ian Hunt (08/05/2011)

I noticed Wendy Jackson nee Woodham. If your Mum's name was Iris Dunk (not sure of the spelling) we are cousins. We had the most amazing childhood. Our Nan lived up on Downs Terrace. So school holidays were a mix of Downs and the races or the beach. Roller skating and the Level. We had such fun.

By Valerie Worton (nee Woodham) (05/07/2011)

The Starlight Rooms was 'THE' place to be in the mid-sixties. I'm married to Micky of 'Micky & The Sapphires' ! We have such fabulous memories of that time in Brighton. It's such a shame the Starlight Rooms couldn't have had some funding to preserve them; although it was a fire hazard as everyone knows! So many good groups played there and it was an important part of the South Coast music scene at that time. Happy Days.

By Sandi Marchant (05/08/2011)

I have lived in BC Canada for the past 50 years but spent my teens in beloved Brighton, at Art College. I jived at Coney Hill Jazz club and am trying to track down clarinet player from College 'Ted Owen' and a 'Dudley Wells' from Newhaven. I had such fantastic times in that great City- it still looks super but can it ever repeat the innocent but wild fun we had in the coffee bars and clubs ? Thanks for the memories everyone. 

By Vicky (nee Castle) Meacham (25/08/2011)

My parents, Dave and Viv used to own Tingey's Coffee Bar at 10 Dyke Rd during the 50s and 60s. As a young boy I remember the music from the juke box and the row of vespers and lambrettas that used to park at the motor bike shop opposite. Walking to school up the road past the church and the grave stones. The double decker buses struggling up Dyke Road in the snow in winter. I lived there until 1968 when we all moved to Australia.

By David Tingey (24/11/2011)

I remember 1965/66 living in Brighton sometimes on the beach- what fab times we had. I shared several flats with lots of beatnicks. I also had a friend Sue who lived in Newhaven- we were like twins I wonder what happened to them all.

By Pam Arrowsmith (17/02/2012)

I met my husband at the Whisky A Go Go in 1959. Many a happy time dancing to the juke box. The place used to be packed. Sadly there are no such great places for kids to hang out today. It went down hill when it was refurbished. 

By Vera Wakefield (17/02/2012)

Kathleen, I remember the coffee bar in the basement, it was great and just like a nightclub, but during the day! Full of exchange students and playing great music. I thought it was called The Sombrero?

By Patricia Silsby (02/03/2012)

Well, well. I just read the comments by Simone Walton. I remember you well Simone from the Zodiac. You and you friend had a favourite spot at the top of the stairs where you could watch all the boys arriving. A friend told me that you liked me but I was too embarrassed to be seen talking to a 'younger' girl. I also remember The Cottage, we used to enjoy a coffee there before going to the Hippodrome to watch one night rock 'n' roll concerts. I also met my future wife at The Cottage and our first date was to a party at your house near the Seven Dials. Love to hear more of what you have been doing over the years. Regards Tom

By Tom Paul (11/03/2012)

Does anyone remember the name of the trendy German Lager bar in Marine Parade opposite The Aquarium? I think it was the first pub to serve Lowenrbrau. It was there in the late 60s / early 70s.

By Kieron (04/05/2012)

Ok guys, does any one remember going to the Hollingbury Youth Club in Carden Avenue? Then we would go to the Zodiac in St James Street. Oh the Starlight- what a great place that was, every Sunday afternoon we'd be in there after the Wimpy Bar in Western Road then bunk into the pictures in East Street. What days- wonderful memories. I remember seeing and meeting The Who in the Florida, plus others. As for the Concorde I worked for Bonny, those were the days.

By Yvonne (09/06/2012)

Ah! The Whisky-a-go-go, I first went there when it opened in about 1957 Tom ran it and Harvey Holford ran the Blue Gardinier upstairs. Like others have said it got more and more popular and was mentioned in Parliament as a den of iniquity. My gang moved to Tingey's which had a really good crowd but was even smaller than W-a go go. Dave Tingey was a great host and all the kids used to confide in him for good advice. We used to go as a huge group on outings to Barcomb Mills or the Dyke at weekends. I went off to join the Navy and came home one weekend to find Tingey's had gone and I have seen very few of the boys and girls since.

By Richard Black (18/06/2012)

Not sure if links are allowed here, but there is a youtube video of the Brighton Whiskey-a-go-go, the documentry is called Living for kicks (1960) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvqLUh9yR5g&list=UUu1H52Ihp7kvGcBVpfT5aGg&index=3&feature=plcp

By M.Jones (20/06/2012)

Hi Kieron, was it called 'The Arches'? I remember it well. Ray Williams owned it?

By Yvonne (02/07/2012)

Various comments on this page about the clubs and music prompt me to recommend the book 'South Coast Beat Scene of the 60s' by Mike Read,[Woodfield Publishing 2001]. Wonderful illustrations, not just of the many bands, but of all the ephemera that came with that time -hammily printed posters and tickets being but two! I have a very tentative link, in that for years I worked with the brother of Stu Parkes who played with 'Gary Farr and the T Bones' [plus Keith Emerson] and we used to go to the Brighton Tavern in Gloucester Rd to see Stu's band play great blues numbers.

By Geoffrey Mead (04/07/2012)

Re-looking at this wonderful site, it’s great to see others memories that over-lap mine. How many great romances started around us in those coffee bars. A lift to work on Gordon Coleman’s bike, I bet my dad didn’t know! Thanks so much for the reminder. And Tom Paul, I do remember sitting on those Zodiac stairs (probably with Linda Harrison) and it’s great to know that our house party was a special date for you and your future wife. The same house that I currently live in, will be sold before too long, it’s been the family home since 1945. I’d love to hear from you Tom. Finally, Geoffrey Mead, I know your local knowledge is legendary - thank you for the book prompt.

By Simone Walton (13/07/2012)

Hi again Simone. I also left a note on the 'Cottage' site. I'd love to hear from you about what happened to you since those days. You can contact me if you wish at tom.paul@ntlworld.com Regards Tom

By Thomas Paul (15/07/2012)

I frequented the Blue Gardenia in 1956/1957 and later the Regency in Regent's Square that Harvey Holford also operated. Mainly I came down from Croydon with my friend Tony Hill who drank a lot for an 18 year old, but with others later. We went to The Regent and the Aquarium Ballrooms. I recall Angie who was a girlfriend of Harvey and Carmel who were regulars. We often stayed at Harvey's penthouse flat and later at his bungalow which was, I think, at Rottingdean. It was not widely known that Harvey trained as a hairdresser at a government training college in Croydon, traveling daily by motor bike. I lost contact after I married in 1960.

By Gordon (Ginger) Edwards (01/09/2012)

I was a student in Brighton in the early sixties and played banjo for a while in the Martinique jazz band with Benny, Geoff and Pete Simpkins. Peter was a military historian and referred to my banjo as The Iron Chancellor. If I didn't know the chord part for some obscure piece, he would write it out with his left hand while playing the piano with his right, just in time for the next number. What a talented family they were! After graduation, and a hopelessly busy life, there was not time for jazz but I remember those happy care free days with a smile. Peter Holloway.

By Peter Holloway (17/09/2012)

Just having another brouse round the site. Wonderful memories. A few names I recall from the Zodiac coffee bar; John and Pete Handford, Roy Moore, Ivan, Trevor English, does anyone remember them. Also the Golden Gloves pintable (a classic). Eric and Pam who ran the place, oh, and Simone, I remember you were partial to vodka and lime in the Star pub opposite. Great days.

By Gordon Coleman (24/10/2012)

Can anyone remember the names of some of the London bands that played at the Florida Rooms in the 60s? I remember The Who and Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, but there was one great group that played a song about chasing a fox which ended with a bang on the drum indicating the fox had been shot.

By Tony Clevett (13/11/2012)

What a lot of memories this has brought back. I used to live opposite the Aquarium in Harley House Hotel in the '60s where my father was manager, and remember most of these venues. My dad was friends with Uncle Bonnie and I used to get in free to the jazz club and meet the bands (Acker Bilk, Humphrey Littleton, Chris Barber - to name a few). The Regent, The Zodiac, The Whisky-a-go-go all bring back back memories - I could go on forever. Happy days!

By Rod Tempest (26/11/2012)

The Zodiac coffee bar was mentioned and I have special memories of that place in St James Street as I not only spent so much time there but I was the one who painted the zodiac signs on the walls and panels. After finishing the work, the owners still owed me some money - £10 in fact, which was fair amount in those days (early 60's) . They offered me the pool table which was a one third size one and was in a room on the top floor. I accepted the pool table and got a friend to help me take it away in his mini van. I still have the table to this day and it has been played on by many people over the years.

By Chris Kisko (03/01/2013)

Any memories of the group that entertained in the Belvedere Beach Bar 1956/57?

By Joe Babgles (31/01/2013)

Just found this site - absolutely fantastic. We had such great fun living by the sea in our teenage years. The youth clubs,mine was Hangleton youth club, then the coffee bars - all the above. I also went to the King's Head at Albourne and the Lewes Town hall for the jazz, what a great time. I met my husband at the Regent dance hall, now Boots - they cut out the dancing! So from the tea dances and coffee bars galore we had a great time - lovely memories. My sons don't believe it when I say if you lived in Brighton and Hove in the '50s and '60s and you were a hairdresser you knew most people.

By Yvonne Wedge (nee Pugh) (04/02/2013)

Regarding the comment by Yvonne Wedge nee Pugh - did you attend the school in George Street Hove in the mid 50s as I certainly remember your name?

By Chris Kisko (12/04/2013)

@ Yvonne Wedge. You didn't mention 'Maria's Coffee Bar', which was just around the corner from where you lived. Happy days!

By Danny Hornby (06/06/2013)

I used to live in Blatchington Road, Hove.  The coffee bar at the top of George street was called The Ballerina, I was a bit too young to go there but it was very popular in late '50s - early '60s.

By Michelle Hillman (25/08/2013)

Yvonne, my youth club was also Hangelton. I lived in Sunninghill close. Before that lived just off Sackville Road and spent a lot of time walking along Blatchington Road and George Street. When I first got married we bought a lot of furniture from Dockers -  it was in Blatchington Road on a corner. I used to work in Lewes when I first left school and used to go to Lewes town hall dances and also used to go to Railway Lane youth club.

By Jenny Bainbridge (26/08/2013)

It's nice so many of you remember The Zodiac which was run by my best friend's parents, though I never went there myself. I didn't realise it was so popular. Eric is still around, living in Worcester, near my friend, but Pam died about 10 years ago.

By Renia (27/08/2013)

Does anyone know of the Oasis Club? In Queens Square (just down from the ice rink).  I was born in 1973 when my grandfather owned this club/bar. He also owned several flats above the bar. His name was Robert (Bob) Kingsley. I've been reading a lot about Whiskey a Go Go, just wondered what this place was called after? Would appreciate any information or anyone that knew my grandfather. 

By Shelley Ancell (03/11/2013)

My grandfather was Robert Kingsley aka Bob one had the Oasis Club!

By Shelley Ancell (03/01/2014)

I remember playing drums with Pat Benham (guitar), Johnny Frucht (bass) and Art Parker (piano) on a Southern television talent show called "Home Grown" about December 1959.

By Carl Simmons (12/01/2014)

Yes, Chris Kisko, I was at George Street School and remember you joining our class. I think you had a brother who was also at the school. Where are you now? I now live in Spain but am often back in Hove.

By Yvonne Wedge (nee Pugh) (10/07/2014)

Great trip down memory lane! I used to frequent the Scandinavia in the early sixties but in which part of Western Road was it? The Florida rooms were great but the Regent on a Thursday night was when the weekend started.   

By Roger Brill (07/08/2014)

Great reading all of your comments as it's brought back lots of happy memories. I remember nearly all the coffee bars referred to,wasn't there one called The Continental at the bottom of North Street? Also the jazz clubs - I think it was Wednesday's at the Chalet and Friday the Coney Hill. There are also a few pubs mentioned but how about the Cider Bar in Market Street - always packed and a cheap way to start the evening .

By Raymond Ede (09/06/2015)

The bar opposite the Palace Pier which sold Lowenbrau beer was called  the Beer Keller where I met my wife. Does anyone remember the automat just down from the Regent Cinema with coffee machines etc  circa 1964-1965?  The barn also had Wilson Pickett perform there one night. King Gerry said why do they call him Pickett - because he was always picken it.

By Dave Lewis (10/06/2016)

Hi Shelly Ancell. I remember the Oasis Club and Bob with great affection.  I used to spend a lot of time with his wife Vicky. She introduced me to many clubs, pubs and people in Brighton. Both great people as were the many others I met.
I am presently researching a series of articles I am writing on Brighton 60s-70s. Pubs and hotels.  I would be grateful if we could communicate further.  Many people and places I would like to ask you about.  What happened to David Parry?

By Rob Lindegger (12/07/2016)

Just reading back through this page to 2009 and the message from Barry Plank who was writing about the Whisky-a-go-go. He mentioned Bill Challand who was engaged to my sister Janet at one time, a lovely man and I was devastated when they split up, and he also mentioned the girls called Bubbles and Squeak - Squeak was my sister Christine and Bubbles was her friend Ann. Christine used to take me in there on a Saturday afternoon, my parents would have been horrified! I was only 13!

By Marilyn Jones (15/07/2016)

Hi Marilyn. Great to read your comment. Unfortunately Bill died some time ago in Vancouver. He ran a taxi/ferry boat there. I was always very impressed with "Bubbles and Squeak" they were fantastic dancers. I have a photograph of Ann sitting on the counter at the "Whisky". They were a few years older than me, but I think I was just a little in love with Ann. Was your maiden name De Lacy or something similar? It seems to be something in my mind. Have you watched the Daniel Farson report on You tube, partly recorded in the "Whisky"? It's entitled "Living for kicks" You will see Bill Challand in this short old Television film.

By Barry Plank (01/01/2017)

Hi Shelley Ancell. The "Whisky-a-go-go" became "The Grotto" after the trial of Harvey Holford. I worked there, but it wasn't a great success and closed down after a while. It belonged to an author who lived in Hangleton.

By Barry Plank (01/01/2017)

Hi Wendy Jackson, just read your entry in 2004 regarding the coffee bar at the bottom of North Road. It was called the "Little Chef" and the messengers of Brighton were always in there with their private motor-bikes parked outside. I have many memories of that place, the song that stuck in my mind from that time was "Hotta hotta chocolota" playing on the juke-box. Wish I could ride a motor-bike now, still happy days of yester year.

By Raymond Stoner (15/03/2017)

Hi Barry, only just seen your post. I was sorry to hear about Bill - he was a lovely man and brought me back a hand of bananas when he was a merchant seaman, I was about 11 then.
You were right - our surname was de Lacy and Ann now lives in Spain and still keeps in contact with Chris.
I think I saw that clip a while ago but I will have another look.  Kind regards

By Marilyn Jones (16/03/2017)

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