Memories of Royce Radio in Trafalgar Street

Photo:Cherie and her brother John photographed outside Royce Radio, 89 Trafalgar Street, in 1952

Cherie and her brother John photographed outside Royce Radio, 89 Trafalgar Street, in 1952

Photo from Cherie Chierchie's collection

Photo:Cherie's father John with her son, photographed outside the shop only two months before John died

Cherie's father John with her son, photographed outside the shop only two months before John died

Photo from Cherie Chierchie's collection

Photo:In 1965 Cherie (left) was one of the runners-up in the Miss Brighton competition

In 1965 Cherie (left) was one of the runners-up in the Miss Brighton competition

Photo from Cherie Chierchie's collection

I once lived there

By Cherie Chierchie

Does anyone remember Royce Radio in Trafalgar Street, where I once lived?

Most of my father’s family and his first wife Silvie Isaacs moved from London to Brighton during the Second World War. Silvie Isaacs opened a millinery shop at No 89 Trafalgar Street. I believe this was at the beginning of the war. The shop didn’t do very well as people in Brighton were not big hat wearers.

He borrowed a library book

I’m not sure when, but my father borrowed a book from Brighton Library on how radio works and taught himself all about it. He got old radios and took them to pieces and then eventually started to repair broken radios.

He then took over the shop and sold second-hand radios, record players and radiograms (as they were called then).  He called the shop ‘Royce’s Radio’ and took the name of John Royce. Soon the first televisions were around and he taught himself to mend them also. By 1950 John Royce was living above the shop with my mother Jean (Jan) Royce, me Cherie Royce, and my baby brother Johnnyboy Royce.  In 1953 we had our own TV and watched the coronation.

Under threat of demolition

Most of Trafalgar Street was under threat of demolition from road widening. My father believed that Alderman Hay, who was on the council and who had a shop near us (but selling new radios) had the order postponed – but the threat was always there.

The shop lease

My father had the shop on a lease, which was regularly renewed by Parsons Son & Basley, the estate agent, but because of the threat of demolition my father spent very little on the upkeep of the building. So when in the 1960s the lease was up and the agent had to come round to inspect the property before renewing it, my father was so worried that he developed diabetes! Actually there was no problem as the lease was renewed, but that was my father’s character – he lived in a state of anxiety (as I believe do many people of Jewish origin).

They loved to dance

But he went on to live quite a long time, kept healthy by his love of dance. He and my mother were very well known in Brighton for their ballroom dancing. My father had been a champion dancer in London. In Brighton my parents danced at the Regent Ballroom (now Boots by the Clock Tower) and were close friends of the then very well known dance band leader Sid Dean. They met in Sherry’s dance hall in West Street and named me Cherie after the dance hall! People would tell me that my father was the best dancer and my mother the most beautiful woman in Brighton. Actually my mother was a very beautiful woman well into her 60s until she became ill and lost weight.

He acquired a piano

My father used to do a lot of part exchange and one person who owed him a lot of money gave him a piano instead of money. He was going to sell it but instead he taught himself to play. The piano was in the shop and he would sometimes play it for customers. He could play any tune by ear and my ex-husband, who is a musician, was amazed by his understanding of chords.

My father died in 1980 in his 80s. He was out dancing two days beforehand and he died peacefully in his sleep.

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 205, July/August 2010]


This page was added on 05/08/2010.

It's lovely to hear about the North Laine in the 1950s and 60s.

By Sharon Carter
On 09/08/2010

Hi Cherie, and anyone who's reading. I was just thinking about this shop recently. My mother, Joy Jones, was friends with Jan and Johnny, and around 1977/78 we went with them on a day trip to Butlins at Bognor - and enjoyed the dancing and a show in the Gaiety Theatre. I was just a boy of 14 or 15 at the time but I remember the day fondly as if it were yesterday. I liked them both a lot, as did my mother. Johnny and I talked a lot about music, because he knew a great deal and I was just starting in a band. Happy memories and great to see the pictures! Best wishes David

By David Jones
On 22/03/2014

Hi there, i well remember Royce Radio and John bless him. I'm a record collector and quite often went in there.  He had records everywhere. God only knows what gems he had amongst all that lot.  He also had some records around the windows, Great memories.

By Alan Turrell
On 13/03/2016

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