Memories of Upper Gardner Street

Photo:Dorothy Cooke photographed in 2004

Dorothy Cooke photographed in 2004

Photo by Jackie Fuller

Photo:Street Party in Upper Gardner Street, 1940s (the Maskells' shop is on the left)

Street Party in Upper Gardner Street, 1940s (the Maskells' shop is on the left)

From Dot Cooke's collection

Eighty years in the same house

By Dorothy Cooke, North Laine resident

I have many happy memories of living in Upper Gardner Street, going back 80 years!

My mother, father and I moved to the house in which I still live from Sydney Street in London (a turning off the King's Road in Chelsea). We had had a general shop there and had lived above the shop.

Moved here in 1929

We came to live in Upper Gardner Street in 1929 when I was 9 years old and I have lived here ever since! I am now the oldest living occupant in the street and my memory goes back many years.

Childhood memories of the street

When I was young, Mr Heritage was the manager of Durtnall's. He lived with his wife and daughter, Eileen, at No 38. Eileen and I were the same age and were good friends.

Opposite my house was a general shop, which was Mr Lee's (No 34). He was a blind person and his daughter and her husband lived with him. Despite being blind Mr Lee served in the shop. He knew where everything was and also what money you gave him and what change he gave you.

Next door was a lock-up, where Mrs Shapiro kept her barrow. She and her husband used to sell vegetables and fruit. Next to the lock-up was the barber's shop and the barber was definitely not blind!

Further along the same side was Mr Steven's fish shop, with beautiful tasting kippers that they used to smoke themselves. Also at weekends we used to get winkles. His wife's name was Clara and I was friendly with their children.

On the corner was Mrs Chillingworth, who had another little shop that sold lots of different goods. On the opposite corner was another shop that had been Gigin's the baker's, then a photography shop, and then many different things.

There was Wheeler's the bookshop, where I used to go and change paperbacks, 'School Friend' and various different girls' books leading up to 'Peg's Paper', then more grown-up ones. We could either buy or exchange there.

Next door was the Maskell family, who had a shop with all sorts of things for sale. They too had children with whom I used to play.

Coming further along on my side there was Mrs Morgan, who had a sweet shop. We were able to get 4 oz of sweets for a penny (old money). She also sold roasted peanuts, which were great.

Next door to her was Mrs Mitchell's shop, where old clothes etc were sold. Two or three houses down was Mrs Goodchild's shop. She sold china and glassware.

Stables and horses

Further along came the office of Durtnall's and I can well remember the stables and horses. The horses used to slip and slide on the cobblestones. One nearly bolted one Saturday morning, frightening people in the market, but the man got him under control and he was taken back to his stable. Eileen and I used to play hide-and-seek among the carts.

We shopped in Gardner Street

On the corner at the North Road end was Mrs Dyke, who had the paper shop. We could get all of our shopping in Gardner Street. It had the Home & Colonial, Bolton's the egg shop, a biscuit shop, two greengrocers, another wet fish shop, and Groves the butchers, where we shopped for years.

We all knew one another

When I married my husband, I continued to live in this house and looked after my mother after my father died. We brought up our two daughters here and were very happy. It was a great street to live in. We all knew one another and helped anyone who was ill or unable to get out. My childhood too was very happy here.

My husband and I decided to stay here when he came out of the Royal Engineers at the end of the war. As a small boy he had attended the Central School in Upper Gardner Street.

They wanted to demolish our houses

I still have the cuttings from the newspapers when the Council wanted to demolish our houses. We fought against it and won.

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 171, November/December 2004]

This page was added on 12/02/2009.

What a lovely story. It is amazing that you have lived there for 80 years.  Many more happy years.

By Julie
On 14/07/2010

I have just read this article by Dorothy Cooke about Upper Gardner Street in Brighton. I have visited the street twice in the last few years as my mother was born at No 10 (Nellie Stephens, b. 1918, 1 of 4 children). Her father James William Stephens had a general shop. He died in 1920. My grandmother Daisy married in 1929 George Miller Mitchell, who lived at No 8 and they had a daughter Doris. They moved at some time to North Street, as my grandmother died there in 1947. I am very interested in the article and have spent 4 years researching my family tree, so I would be very pleased if Mrs Cooke had any memories of my mother (Nellie) and her family. (In 1929 my aunts would have been 16, 13 and my mother 11, my uncle 9.) I thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.

By Angela Pendle
On 18/11/2010

I have read these memories by Dorothy Cooke with great interest, as my family were the Maskells, whom she mentions! She also says that she played in the streets with the children - one of them was probably my Mum! I have a photo of my grandmother, Ellen Maskell, outside her home in Upper Gardner Street, which was also a general store. Another photo I have shows a large group outside the Brighton Tavern, Gloucester Road, on some family occasion. I am submitting these photos to your website on a separate page called Family Photos, as they may be of interest to Dorothy and others.

By Tony Tree
On 29/03/2011

Tony, I would really like to make contact with you. My mother-in-law was also a grandchild of Mrs Maskell, which makes you cousins. Her mother was Violet.

By Marina Noone
On 13/01/2014

My grandparents Harry and Clara Stevens had a wet fish shop in Upper Gardner Street. If anyone has information or photos it would be great. I had contact with Mrs Stokes but sadly she died before we could meet.

By Joyce Padmore
On 26/08/2016

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