All dates are based on the directories mentioned below.
Brighton’s extend from 1799 to 1974 and were produced by a number of different companies to begin with before Kelly’s became the only provider beyond 1929. These directories were split into a number of sections; residential and commercial but more importantly listed the main occupier and trade on a street by street basis in order of house number. Listed below are the directories and year consulted.
For a greater in depth explanation see John Farrant Sussex Directories 1784 - 1975 (2002) Link
Kelly’s: 1845, 1918, 1921-24, 1930-31, 1933-40, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1968, 1969-74
Folthorps: 1846, 1850, 1856, 1862, 1864
Pages: 1867-71, 1873, 1877, 1879, 1885, 1887, 1889-90, 1892
Robinsons: 1884, 1886
Walsers: 1888, 1891
Towners: 1894, 1896-98, 1900-03, 1905-06
Pikes: 1899, 1904, 1907-17, 1919-21, 1925-27, 1929
The arrival of BT’s freely distributed business directory in 1975 sounded the death knell of the street directories which required purchasing. Unlike the street directories, Yellow Pages (YP from here onwards) lists by trade category which means searching for shops on a street requires reading them cover to cover, fine in the early editions which are little more than 300 pages long but gets harder towards the 1990s when they hit 1000 pages though the advent of the internet has meant they have started shrinking again with the latest edition, 2011-12, coming in at just under 700. Saying that whole swathes of the directory that weren’t relevant to the street being researched could be ignored. The first problem regarding use of this resource is what is not there as not every business has bothered to list themselves. Crossing over was also a problem, the last street directory listed seven butchers in Sydney Street whilst the first YP listed only two though I was aware that one of these owned or had owned four of the others. The whereabouts of these butchers is still a mystery though a couple of names crop up trading from other addresses elsewhere. This leads on to another problem, namely multiple addresses, Rayford Electrics which traded from a number of different shops in the street were never given a street number in the YP just the name of the street during the 1980s. Some of this was resolved if the business added an advert which would give the full address which Rayford never bothered with though others did but not always for the entire tenure of their stay. All dates given relate to the year the address first or last appeared in YP whose published date seems to be a year ahead of the actual information. The date of issue was a singular year up to 1991, the next volume was dated 1992-93 and has remained so ever since and subsequently if the current volume at the time of writing is 2011-12 that probably covers all information up to the end of 2010.
1975-91 except 1979, 1983, 1989.
1992-93, 1994-95, 1995-96, 1997-98, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12
RESIDENTIAL TELEPHONE DIRECTORIES
I used these to augment the searches using YP though they were useful only in looking for businesses whose names I already knew. Of the 14 businesses missing from the 1974-75 crossover I found three here. They also helped solve two of the mysteries of the peripatetic Rayford Electrics in two addresses I hadn’t realised they had occupied. Prior to 1992 all names were in alphabetical order, residential and business, these sections were then split after that date making searching particularly useful for business names I knew but had no set date or address.
1975, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984, April 1986, July 1988, May 1990, January 1992, July 1993, January 1995, June 1996, July 1999, January 2001, July 2002, 2003-04, 2005-06, 2011-12.
John Farrant in his article linked above comments on the quality of information from the early days of the Street Directory whereby some companies worked hard to produce as much accurate data as possible at regular intervals whereas other companies just copied a year to try and make a quick buck rarely checking for errors and often not bothering to update it. Interestingly this seems to be replicated by many online directories, many are utterly useless and are often a few years out of date, one had not been updated since 2005 whilst another based on postcode searches gave out addresses of businesses that had not operated since the late 1990s. At least the latter was useful in an historical context giving me the names of a number of businesses I had not known about some of which I was able to date through the residential phone directories.
trading site Link
Four online resources deserve a mention
My brighton & Hove Link
threw up lots of memories within the comments.
for the same reason
Bygone East Brighton Link
though focussing on an outer suburb of the city threw up a couple of images of William Speed’s greengrocer which enabled me to solve a riddle regarding number 1 Sydney Street.
was particularly useful for the history of Attrix Records.
The James Gray Collection Link
Fantastic archive of old photographs of Brighton. Gray was a stamp collector who was given some old photographs of Brighton in the 1950s and began collecting those instead. He also added pictures of his own and specifically recorded demolitions and changes around the town from the 1960s onwards until his death in the late 1990s. Each image was stuck in an album with a written description added to it or a set.
Flickr also provided valuable information with a wide range of pictures of the street enabling me to date and sometimes discover businesses that never made it to any directory particularly in the years from 2005 and one or two further back.
Originally compiled for fire insurance purposes in the 19th century these maps, based on large scale OS maps, have evolved into charting the occupation of a city’s central business district. Each map of the city centre would include highlighting an area used for retail or business then naming each individual unit. Up to 1999 a hard copy map was produced annually since then they have been produced digitally. Goad maps are currently owned by Experian, the credit agency, and can be purchased through them though they are expensive. A fair number of hard copies can be found at the British Library
and other repositories around the country. A few find their way online usually as part of a council or estate agents plan.