Schoolboy's memories of '60s Kemp Town

Photo:Me, with my cousin's bike outside Evercliff Guest House.

Me, with my cousin's bike outside Evercliff Guest House.

From the private collection of Michael Brittain

Photo:The Methodist Church, now used by Brighton College

The Methodist Church, now used by Brighton College

From the private collection of Michael Brittain

Photo:Montague Street

Montague Street

From the private collection of Michael Brittain

Photo:The white door opened on to my playground

The white door opened on to my playground

From the private collection of Michael Brittain

A child's adventure playground

By Michael Brittain

The eastern end of  St George’s Terrace was and still is, dominated by the Methodist Church which is now used by Brighton College. Both my sisters and I used to visit the church’s basement hall for activities after work and school in the early ‘60s. Carol and Susan were members of the Girl’s Guildry which was run by a very prim and proper Miss York, while I was a member of the Life Boys run by Mr Chase. They seemed to be affiliated, as the same people used to help run both groups. I also remember Mr Wadey a chimney sweep used to live on the south side opposite us and a cat’s home used to be on the north side of the terrace at number 15 I think.  

Montague Street
The back entrance’s of the houses on St George’s Terrace opened directly on to Montague Street. One of my earliest memories of the area was the waste ground and empty houses at the back of our guest house; this was formed by part of Montague Street, Crescent Cottages, Bedford Buildings and Somerset Street which were demolished to make way for the tower blocks of Warwick Mount and Somerset Point.

An adventure playground
This area of rubble was like an adventure playground to a six year old and his friends. Nowadays this waste ground would be fenced off and security patrolled, but then the area was open to all. That waste ground to my friends and I, was the plains of Africa, or the American Prairies and best of all, the WW2 battlefields of Europe. It was such a shame when the builders moved in and fenced it off to build the tower blocks. Mind you there were still lots of empty houses in Edwin Place to play in.

Streets and businesses
The streets and the businesses around the area have changed so much its hard to remember what it was like, but some of the shops I do recall some from the early 60’s There was Geary’s second hand furniture on the corner of Warwick Street and Upper Bedford Street and a sweet shop on the opposite corner.  Just down Upper Bedford Street on the same side, were a fish and chip shop, and a barber who used to place a plank of wood across the arms of his chair for me to sit on to have my haircut. Further down on the corner of Upper St James’s Street was my dad’s local, The City of Hereford.

Upper St James’s Street
Upper St James’s Street seemed such a busy shopping area with all sorts of shops and businesses, but one shop I do remember well was Fogel’s Patisserie, the best bread and cakes in Kemp Town. On the eastern side of Upper Bedford Street was St John the Baptist School followed by the red bricked Pelham Institute. Going north it was just rubble right up to the Stag Inn, which was much smaller then. North of Somerset Street just before Edwin Place, there was Albert’s sweet shop. I remember Albert very well, especially in my teens, a 4d glass of Tizer and 5 Park Drive were the most requested items by the kids from Queens Park Secondary School.


This page was added on 19/11/2009.
Comments about this page

I remember Albert's sweet shop fondly! I went to SJB in 1968 and I used to get strawberry sherbets it was such a tiny shop and lots of jars of sweets so to a 7 year old it was like heaven. I loved reading your stories and looking at your pics, thanks.

By Rachel (21/11/2009)

I had forgotten about '5 Park Drive', I use to purchase them as well, then No 6 came out, which were cheap coffin nails. It was probably only about the time of your story that the awareness of the dangers of smoking started to become common knowledge. Of course us schoolboys had been somewhat brainwashed by, in particular, cinema advertising, with the hero always smoking! Nice story Michael, I didn't know you originated from Birmingham!

By Peter Groves (21/11/2009)

I would be pleased if anyone can add any information on St. Georges Road. My great grandfather, G. Carrington, ran a shoe shop at 17 and 18 St Georges Road and am anxious to find out more about it.

By Derek Barontini (24/08/2010)

Successive Ministers of this Church lived in my house in Chesham Street in Kemp Town from 1909 till 1968. Does anyone remember any of them?

By Ian McIntyre (12/12/2012)

To Michael Brittain: How strange, I was thinking about when I was younger. I used to attend the Girls Guildry, where your sisters went, Michael. I was just trying to find out more about the Guildry and remember Miss York! When did your sisters go there?

By Carol Kendall (12/11/2015)

Hi Carol, my sisters Carol and Susan used to attend the Girls Guildry on St George's Terrace from 1961 until 1963 when we moved to Hove.

By Michael Brittain (14/01/2016)

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