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Brighton and Hove History Archive

We have published more than one hundred books about Brighton & Hove's history

Explore our back catalogue and search inside the books.

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Poverty: Hardship but Happiness
Those were the days 1903-1917
Author(s) Albert Paul

This book is the first that was published by QueenSpark. It tells the story of a working class boy’s life in the years between 1903 and 1917, from his childhood through to adolescence. It looks at the hardships of life before and during the First World War and examines the ways that children’s lives changed as a result of the Great War. Albert Paul was a retired carpenter who lived all his life in Brighton, and he describes in vivid detail the life of a boy brought up in poverty and his struggle against adversity.
Rare book

Out of the Blue – and blues
Author(s) Katherine J Browne
This book, which consists of both poetry and prose, features the reminiscences of Katherine Browne. Katherine’s story, which encompasses the entire spectrum of the human psyche, tells of the many pitfalls she encountered on her life’s journey. It also shows that anybody can write, if they are sufficiently determined and given encouragement. Of particular interest in Katherine’s narrative is her account of her war work as a Billeting Officer in Liverpool, in which she provides vivid descriptions of people’s homes and lives during those turbulent and poverty-stricken times.

The Town Beehive
A young girls lot in Brighton 1910 - 1934
Author(s) Daisy Noakes

This was first published in 1975 and was so popular that it quickly sold out. Brightonian, Daisy Noakes, tells her story from the age of fourteen, when she went into service. She gives us an insight into the life of a woman born and brought up in Brighton. Daisy documents – with humour - her inevitable trials and tribulations in the often physically demanding world that she inhabited during her working life. The autobiography covers her childhood, as one of a family of ten, living in Prince’s Road and Vere Road, and her working days in service in different parts of the town. This is a special insight into Daisy’s world and is a shining example of true grit and fortitude!
Rare book

Always a Layman
Author(s) John Langley

This is the autobiography of John Langley, an active church-goer, who was born in 1905. It tells the moving and impassioned story of his life: incorporating his childhood, his journey to adulthood, his working life and association with the Workers’ Union along with his commitment and affiliation to the Labour Party. It also describes the progression of his career as a railway carriage painter and is very readable, telling us about the good and bad times of Brighton family life. His reminiscences are as sharp and accurate as if they all took place yesterday, let alone one hundred years’ ago. John started from humble beginnings, in an era when a job for life really did mean just that.
Rare book

To be a Farmer’s Boy
Author(s) George Noakes

This tells of George Noakes’s childhood and early adult working life before he married Daisy, author of The Town Beehive and The Faded Rainbow, in 1934. George reminisces about his childhood farm memories and forays to the local shops and surrounding areas; for example, when he visited the local bakers, he always knew that a sugar bun would be given to him. When he was old enough to be trusted outside, he ventured everywhere. In short, he had an idyllic childhood, in an era where children had much more freedom to roam – without today’s safety worries – and he progressed from a boy into a happy adolescent and adult.
Rare book

Shops Book
Shopkeepers and Street Traders in East Brighton 1900-1930
Author(s) Neil Griffiths

Shopping plays a major part in all our lives: we are all affected by rising prices and the changes that have taken place to shops in our local areas. This book is about shopkeepers and street traders – drawing together their various experiences in East Brighton. Shops have certainly changed greatly in the last hundred years - as large firms, supermarkets and superstores have replaced the small-scale local producers and craftsmen. The reader is better able to understand these changes through reading of first-hand experiences, in this comprehensive study of a bygone era.
Rare book

Live and Learn
A life and struggle for progress
Author(s) Les Moss

In this book, Les Moss tells of his lifelong struggle in search of progress, and his personal triumph over adversity. Also documented is the eventful daily and working lives of both himself and his family. Examples of the struggles experienced by Les’s family are shown in the tale of how his grandfather’s Northampton shoe manufacturing company was driven out of business by the advent of mass production and how his father, who played the flute in the Camden Music Halls in London, could no longer work when mass entertainment became prevalent. In turn, Les’s own craft as a centre-lathe turner became largely displaced during his lifetime. This fascinating life history also describes one man’s involvement in trade unionism and provides a picture of political activism in London and Brighton from the 1920s onward.
Rare book

price: £4.99
Faded Rainbow
Our married years
Author(s) Daisy Noakes
This autobiography gives a poignant insight into the life and expectations of a working class Brighton girl, who from the age of fourteen, was in service from 1910 to 1934. It describes her life as a young wife and mother, and the isolation she felt living in the countryside surrounding Gatwick Airfield. Daisy examines the early years of her marriage in 1934 to George Noakes, when she comments that there was ‘no honeymoon period for us’, as her employers would not allow such a luxury and it was like getting ‘blood out of a stone’ even to get a day off to get married. In her twilight years Daisy bravely recalls how she coped with her husband’s terminal illness, when she was left alone to keep her family going.
Rare book

price: £4.99
Hard Times and Easy Terms
And other tales of a Queens Park cockney
Author(s) Bert Healey

This is the entertaining story of a young cockney, who was something of a ‘wide boy’. Originating from London, Bert Healey’s story begins with tales of his life as a wayward boy, a youth and later an adult. He also describes many aspects of his working life - from his first pay packet, when working as a taxi driver to his times of unemployment during times of illness. Bert tells of the lost acquaintances of his youth, most who have now passed away. His story is especially interesting for young readers, who may not know anything of those times. The book gives an insight into the life and times of the Twenties and Thirties, and is particularly interesting for his tales of Brighton racecourse characters. Those times are often described as ‘the bad old days.’ Bert wonders if they really were so bad after all?
Rare book

price: £1.2
The Landlord Cometh
Author(s) Jack Cummins

Born in 1894 in London, Jack Cummins lived in Brighton from 1959. This book was published on the day of his death – 9th October 1981, so sadly, it also becomes his memorial. Jack was a religious young altar boy who worshipped in the Chapel of St. Anselm and St. Cecilia in Sardinia Street, London. As a boy, he played football for Bourne Athletic Club in Holborn, expressing an interest in physical fitness as well as in spiritual matters. As an adolescent, he became a Labour and suffrage activist and a conscientious objector to wartime activity. As an adult, he surprised everyone, least of all himself, by joining the army in the First World War as, paradoxically ‘the only pacifist who took up arms’.

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