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Archive for the ‘Brighton Life’ Category

A BIG thank you to everyone who came to our recent talk ‘Herstories: Women, Popular Culture and History’ given by Dr Louise Fitzgerald from Brighton University. We hope that you found the talk interesting; indeed, unbelievable in parts, as to how the contribution of women filmmakers, particularly in the early part of the 20th century, has been virtually erased from cinematographic history.

Our next talk is on Tuesday 10 October with Sarah Tobias, an entertaining lecturer in cultural, local and social history. She will be presenting ‘Hidden history of Brighton’s parks and gardens – the history of pleasure grounds and green spaces C18th-20th.’

Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start – the talk is scheduled to last for approximately one hour. £4 entrance fee and refreshments are available.

We look forward to welcoming you to West Hill Hall.

 

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Sally May

Sally May, 25 March 1950 – 5 February 2017

A quarter of a century ago, in a Brighton that now seems gone from us forever, an intrepid soul, Sally May (pictured) opened a second hand bookshop at Seven Dials, not a particularly fashionable area of town in those days. To the right of her shop on Dyke Road was a grubby International Stores where the best-selling line seemed to be breakfast in a tin. To the left was a traditional fish and chip shop. Toilet facilities were provided in a brick hut down an alleyway overwhelmed with vegetation that Sally quickly christened Ivy Cottage.

I was delighted to have a bookshop on my doorstep and soon my day was incomplete without calling in at The Bookmark. With her typically impulsive kindness Sally soon promoted me from the status of customer to friend.

Any quick and simple errand around the Dials to get fags or a pint of milk was now impossible. Somehow or other I’d find myself three hours later crouched with Sally over an antique oil radiator at the back of the shop, happily absorbed in The Guardian cryptic crossword.

From time to time we’d be interrupted by one of the regular customers, many of them baptised with fond or not-so-fond nicknames.

Boring Reg would drop in with his trolley. He was rumoured to have a mail-order bride at home but we never saw her. Then Slightly-Less-Boring Reg (no relation) might pass by. Day after day Muddled Marge would put her head around the door to ask, “Do you sell postage stamps?”

Another challenging customer was Steve, the Rock-n-Roll Vole. Dressed head to foot in black, he would stand and mutter at his suede shoes. We could never quite piece together what fascinating observations he might have been communicating.

An aged spiritualist was named Mrs Moth for her habit of appearing suddenly at the window late on winter afternoons, peering into the lighted shop from the twilight outside, her pale raincoat flapping.

A tiny man with a halo of candyfloss hair and a similarly wispy little dog tucked under his arm came in to ask for anything by Catherine Cookson. He was known ever after as Mister Fluff. We liked to imagine that he had been a chorus boy although he can never have been tall enough for that role.

Best of all was the man who came in one day and said very slowly, all in one breath,
Do-You-Have-Any-Books-About-Boats-That-Sank-To-The-Bottom-Of-The-Sea? Disappointed, he turned away and, sadly, was never seen again.

All good things come to an end and so it was at The Bookmark. At the turn of the century the clip-clip of the shiny shoes of estate agents was heard up and down the street. The newsagent, the cobbler, the ironmonger disappeared one by one. The Coma Café, where grey men had slumped over the Racing Post became, apparently overnight, a sushi restaurant.

In 2003 Sally, recognising the spores of gentrification in the air, sold the shop to a property developer, and Seven Dials died a little death.

But for me that small stretch of Dyke Road will forever belong to Sally and will always be haunted by her wheezing exuberant laugh.

Tom Sargant

 

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We continue our series where we ask the owners of local businesses what they think about being part of the community in the Seven Dials / West Hill area. Unsurprisingly, most of them yearn for an improvement in the parking situation and an overwhelming percentage think that business rates could be much fairer. Every one of the businesses love the community in which they are based. Final part to follow in the next issue. Meanwhile, please write to The Whistler and let us know what you like most about living in this area and your improvement suggestions.

Fullertons Graham Brown and Howard Abbot have owned this stationery shop for 21 years and 36 days (and counting) since they moved from the Stage Door Café in Sydney Street. “The business was for sale, we lived in the area and liked the location.” They like Seven Dials because “It has a unique sense of belonging and people are proud of their amenities and environment.” Improvement suggestion: the parking charges are appalling and confusing.

GB Guitars in Prestonville Road is owned by Bernie Goodfellow who moved here from Croydon 12 years ago. He always visited Brighton and wanted to set up in the town and he likes the vibe and the people in the Seven Dials. Improvement suggestion: parking could be much better.

Grocer and Grain Hakan Toklu has owned this deli/grocer on Surrey Street since moving from Istanbul to open the shop 10 years ago. He was attracted by the location and the local residents. He likes the convenience of the proximity to everywhere else in town and the different backgrounds of the people who live around here. Improvement suggestion: a Spring event that will attract local people to come together as a community.

Homage Mark Fisher and his wife, Liza Fisher-Zerb, are the husband and wife team who own this home and lifestyle store. They moved to Bath Street in November 2015 from Stoke Newington, as Liza “is a Brighton girl and Seven Dials is her childhood neighbourhood. We’ve always wanted to move back to Brighton so we relocated the shop. Seven Dials has a lovely village feel and yet it is 5 minutes walk from the centre of Brighton. Great pubs, restaurants, cafés, and independent businesses. Friendly, welcoming residents.” Improvement suggestion: parking for visitors and commercial premises.

Jagwa Tracy and Alero Ejuetami are the mother and daughter who run this tiny salon. Based here for 19 years – “It was cheap at the time” – they like the Dials because it’s safe, friendly and interesting. Improvement suggestion: businesses to open later.

The Kitchen Table Stuart Graves has been based here for 4 years, having worked in various pubs and restaurants in Brighton. He was attracted by the feeling that it was a neighbourhood. He runs the café with his assistants Marc and Sophie. Improvement suggestion: some more interesting retail shops.

Latina Adelia Pereira brought her award-winning (for recycling) Portuguese café to the Dials 20 months ago, having come from Brighton University. She was attracted by the good location and the lovely area. Improvement suggestion: fewer drunk people around.

Le Gourmet Deli Silvano Ricci owns and runs this delicatessen since his father, Silvano, retired recently, having moved from Montefiore Road 20 years ago. His second-in-command is Ryan Marchant. They were attracted by the “lovely local community” and like the community feel in the area. Improvement suggestion: free parking for half an hour.

Magdusia the Polish supermarket is owned by Ala Alrousan, with his second-in-command, Claire Alrousan. Ala has been based in the Dials for 12 years, since coming here from Abu Dhabi. He was attracted by “the beautiful look of the city, the sea, and the open-minded, friendly people.” Improvement suggestion: no road works in the summer.

Maple Café is owner Amanda Hoggatt’s first business and has been here for 20 months. She was attracted to the Dials because it is “a lovely area with a real mix of people” and what she likes most about the area is that “it has a small town feel and people are more relaxed and friendly.”

Mermaid Island Guijie Wang and her husband Michael Moore came to the Seven Dials from Saltdean one year ago, attracted by the local community, the adjacent shops and offices. “We like our friendly neighbours and being close to the shops and the sea.” Improvement suggestion: some trees or plant containers.

Michael Paul Insurance Services Paul Phillips owns this business and has been in this area since 1984,  to which he was attracted because it was a busy area, with a good community feel. Improvement suggestion: parking.

Mishon Mackay has been based in Hove since 1987 when owner Alex Mackay set up his business. He was attracted by lots of London buyers and he likes the village feel and independent shops in the Seven Dials. Improvement suggestion: litter can always be improved and fewer cars.

Mr Face Make-up & Hair is owned by Martin Carter, and his second-in-command is Mark Stelfox. Martin was in London before opening the business a year ago, having been attracted by the shopfront, and the fact it was “way away from the town centre.” He likes the good community spirit and his amazing, loyal clientele. Improvement suggestion: free parking permits for customers.

 

 

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28 GUILDFORD ROAD

A planning application for this property has been considered by the Conservation Advisory Group which recommended approval. The two storey house on the corner of Guildford Road and Clifton Street was a dog grooming parlour for many years and had, before that, been a shop. The proposal will replace the shop window with bay windows in order to make the premises more suitable for residential occupation.

19 BATH STREET

The Conservation Advisory Group, however, recommended refusal for this application to demolish the existing dwelling and erect a three storey building with 2no two bedroom flats and 1no one bedroom flat, considering the design to be inappropriate for the area. There were also concerns about the lack of clarity in the drawings submitted as these did not make clear the parking provision. This is the second application for this site in recent years. The previous application for a single four bedroomed house with a garage has not been implemented. It had been refused by the Council but then allowed on appeal by a planning inspector. In front of the adjacent property (19A Bath Street) it is interesting to note the two (redundant) petrol pumps which are on the local list of heritage assets. These “Shellmex” pumps from the early 1950s are a reminder of what was one of the first, if not the first, petrol station in Brighton. It seems they remained in use into the 21st century which explains why they carry stickers, added in the latter part of the 20th century, indicating “three star” and “four star” petrol. With the introduction of unleaded petrol such terms are themselves of historical interest, being no longer a feature of our modern fuel pumps.

66 BUCKINGHAM ROAD

A further application to replace the existing pitched roof with a mansard roof incorporating a single dormer both front and rear has been submitted. The current proposal is to raise the roof line slightly less than proposed in the previous application, which the council refused, and not to raise the height of the front parapet. The current application points out that there are many examples of buildings within Brighton and Hove of a similar size, period and style, which have traditional mansard roofs and that there are also examples of the council’s granting permission for similar mansard alterations to unlisted buildings in other conservation areas.

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Have you noticed an increase in the number of ‘lost cat’ signs stuck up on trees, bins etc in the West Hill area?
There is a more effective method to find an aimlessly wandering feline than the traditional photo stapled to a tree.

If you own one or more of these furry little herberts, live in the West Hill area, and think that sharing information about our kitties with a view to their well-being is a good idea, then go on Facebook and look for the group: West Hill Cat Watch. Not just a lost cat page but a place where you can upload photos of your fur bag(s) and exchange information so we can look out for our furry friends.

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April saw the return of one of the West Hill and Brighton’s most prominent pubs, lovingly restored and re-launched as The West Hill Tavern. Formerly known as The Belle Vue, and then simply The West Hill, the site has seen many incarnations over the years as a steady stream of management teams have steered the ship; but this time things seem different.

Former Creative Director of London and Brighton-based events and bar group Mothership, interior designer Heather Pistor and her DJ husband Ben have taken on a 10-year lease. Along with their young son Elliott, it seems they are here to stay. With a huge investment from both the landlords and the Pistors, the pub has been given a new lease of life with cosy interiors, traditional pub pantones and a cracking selection of drinks, including craft beers, ‘not-so-crafty beers’, local Sussex ales such as Long Man’s APA and Hammerpot’s Mosaic Pale Ale, alongside a very considered wine list, a bloody good Bloody Mary and goblets of G&T. What more could one want?

The events calendar is beginning to take shape too, with a weekly Jazz night on Thursdays and a twice-monthly quiz to be held on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month; and they are currently on the lookout for local meet-up groups, musicians and promoters to join the community at The Westie. “Our aim is to become the hub of the community with something for everyone, and have that ‘Cheers’ effect where everyone really does know your name,” said Heather. “We’ve been overwhelmed by, and are very thankful for, all the support from so many locals, some of whom hadn’t set foot in the pub for a number of years. It’s such an honour to be given the opportunity to re-instate The West Hill Tavern as the centre of this wonderful West Hill community, and along with our staff, we welcome everyone into our new home.”

And, of course, you can’t have a real pub without a hearty pub food menu and The West Hill Tavern is serving up home-cooked food Wednesday – Sunday, including burgers, fish ‘n’ chips, and that all important Sunday roast.
As the Pistor’s mantra goes, “Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your dog, bring the good times.”

Email thewestiebn1@gmail.com to get involved.

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