12 August 2013…..This week The Argus told us of a local estate agent with a huge local history collection – including a 900-item collection he’d bought on ebay.
The Blockbuster shop on Blatchington Road closed awhile back, since when there has been an outrageous planning application to create a street entrance to the upper floor and roof space where, amongst other plans, a flat with no windows, only skylit was proposed. One modestly sized flat where the windows are would have been OK. The proposed overdevelopment was refused. Another application is in for the shopfront and an estate agents’ letting sign is outside now.
The time may yet come when some of the small shops in Brighton and Hove which were carved out of previously residential houses will be returned to residential use, top to bottom, to give a more mixed used to our high streets. With the rise of internet shopping, increasingly, doing this becomes a serious question to ponder. In the way of this is Use Class Designation and losing shops means giving up on an employment opportunity. But of course if places like the old Blockbuster were top to bottom houses, the option to trade from home (on the street frontage) would come back into fashion too. It is the only way the household bits and bobs shop in Portland Road survives. They own the building of old and part trade and part survive with part-time jobs. And the public benefit from their continued presence for small things like Vim, mops and dish drainers. But back to local history!
Andy Garth is now using the premises as a short-term pop-up shop to part sell, part showcase, his collection of pictures, auction brochures, maps, books, etc. and to deter squatters. Brighton and Hove Stuff is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10am. On Saturday, a steady stream of fellow collectors and the delighted came to his pop-up shop. Myself included.
It reminds somewhat (in a less polished way) of the wonderful postcards and prints local history shop in Queens Road in its feel. No postcards here. He seems to have mountains of historic Ordnance Survey maps, not just for Brighton and Hove either. More than I ever saw at the Local History Museum (now closed) or at Hove Museum. Indeed the end wall has a floor-to-ceiling, wall to wall map of the area from 1909.
There were no official Ordnance Survey Maps until the latter part of the 19th century so The Argus reporting that he had one from 1780 made me wonder what he DID have and to worry about him selling and dispersing important material not already in Record Office or Library collections. He isn’t selling this one. I would hope, however, that his 1780 map eventually finds its way into – say – the Jubilee Library Rare Books room. The Keep is too far away and will be hard to access once the contents of the Local History Museum (previously in the Brighton Museum) are again available there.
On visiting the shop, it became clear he is part of the local network of passionately interested local history buffs and private collectors who are serious and knowledgeable about their holdings. Surprisingly, vintage maps do not sell for very much if you look online unless very, very special and rare.
He is not selling his original maps. But he is selling non-original copies of map sections as well as nice, frameable prints of new-development advertisements that tell the story of how this area expanded and grew over the last 100 years or so.
How well do you know the age of your area? I remember some Vallance Gardens residents during the last King Alfred campaign believing their homes to be Victorian…..not so! Twentieth century, except for one, half way up and the street was formed to run by it. It is fascinating to look at this material and to learn how the area developed, which bits first and in what order.
There was a St. Andrews Church Vicarage and school at the bottom of George Street in 1875 and a school in what is now the church hall of the Blatchington Road Congregational Church on the corner of Ventnor Villas (called a Chapel on the 1875 map section below). Could one of these churches provide school space now? Lord knows school spaces are pretty desperately short in Hove. And Holy Trinity is de-consecrated and empty. Perhaps Kings School should be making enquiries here for its Free School expansion needs.
Note the name ‘North Place’ in the map above. When doing genealogical and property age searches, people often start with street directories. Maps should be the first port of call. Names of streets and areas changed over time. A lot.
Here the terrace of houses by the church is called ‘Hova Terrace’. It is today not in use. It’s just street-named as Denmark Villas. ‘North Place here, and continuous westwards the other side of Goldstone Villas, at some point changes name to Blatchington Road for the area along to ‘Hove Drove’ (now Sackville Road). Now it is all Blatchington Road.
Other maps in this collection include the 1950’s and 1960’s. Lots of 1930’s advertising too, which Mr. Garth is selling as frameable reproduction prints.