Memories of dating in the Brighton area

By Roslyn Cook

Courtship during the War

Photo:Academy Cinema West Street

Academy Cinema West Street

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Vera Morrison: 'I used to sit there and watch the films to the end... when the bombing raids were on.'

'I had loads of boyfriends. We used to go to the air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden. We didn't get found out because everyone else was indoors during the raids!'

Rod Patterson: 'I didn't go dancing - too shy for that! Rather watch the planes fighting overhead'


'I was married before and we got divorced. She went off with another man. After the divorce, they went up to Scotland to get married. I saw a photo of them in the paper and recognised the suit he was wearing. Pinched my wife and my bloody suit an all!'

'The old uniform used to help with the girls. That was when I was 17'

'My best friend's sister asked me out for a walk when I was 15 or 16. I thought oh, I don't know if that's the done thing. I wanted to marry her when I was 16'.

A Cinema called the 'Granada'

Rod: 'My mum was an usherette at the Rothbury, so I used to get in free. There was an old bingo hall on Portland Road; it used to be a cinema called the 'Granada'. I had a date there once. I got the bus from the old village (Portslade) and went past her on the bus standing outside the cinema. She was wearing a red coat. I lost my bottle and stayed on the bus!'

Wedding dresses

Rod: 'I've got a copy of my great-grandmother's wedding certificate that they marked with an X in place of their signatures.  I remember when my wife and I got married. Wedding dresses were very expensive and we'd spent our money on all the other things for the wedding, so my wife borrowed the wedding dress that her sister had worn at her own wedding only a month previously. My wife wasn't very happy about it though, and always wished that she'd been able to have a dress of her own.'

Two timing!

Nancy Kersey: 'I cycled home with my friend Pat after picking primroses. We went via the Cliftonville Arms to see who was there... that is to see if Wally was there. Cheeky bugger was going with another girl. So he said, "I'll take her home, then come back and get you!"

How rude

Wally Kersey: 'Going up the Regent Dance Hall for a tea dance, where Boots is now. I asked a young lady to dance and as we were walking onto the floor I said, I'm not much good at dancing, she said "Well, not much point in dancing with you then". She turned around and walked off!'

'Where the women all stood in the dance hall was known as the cattle market'.

At the back of Woolworths.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Courtship' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Nancy : 'We were but my dad was quite strict. Me and my next door neighbour Pat, we were more like sisters - used to go everywhere together. We used to go "boy hunting" at Cliftonville hall at the back of Woolworths. Me and Wally started courting and I got a valentine's card, so I thanked him for it, and he said, "I didn't send you one". Then he went away to National Service and sent me a letter and I realised the handwriting was the same and that he did send me the valentine's card. That was the start of it!'

Wally:  'My dad called my mum "the old dame".  Her father was very strict. Had to be in at 10pm. He used to shout out: "You're late my girl". We met just after the war in 1946.'

So many boyfriends

Vera: 'I used to have so many boyfriends I had to keep a list of them to keep track. My dad said "I never know who's going to be sitting in my favourite chair", cos I had so many boyfriends! My mum died when I was five and I went over the road to my aunt's, my mother's sister. My little sister went to my Granma's. That used to be the highlight of my life. Every Sunday we went down to see her. We did a lot together, me and my sister: pea and fruit picking, things like that.'

I love a lassie

Tom: 'I used to be a devil for the ladies - I had lots of girlfriends, but my mother was strict and I couldn't take them home. Before the air force I went out with a gym instructor and we ended up on the golf course in a bunker! When I was in London my second wife Sarah, she was Irish, we was courting then, cuddling away, kissing, all of a sudden, a policeman came past, we thought we were going to get arrested, but he just said "carry on, don't worry".'

The Air Force in Berlin

'When I was in the air force in Berlin, I was courting there. I missed the last bus back to camp and I was walking back. This big lorry pulled up and two Russian drivers were in it, it was divided into nationality sectors at that point. They give me a lift in the back with a load of tomatoes and I had to sit in them all.'

This page was added by Roslyn Cook on 20/12/2007.
Comments about this page

I went with my father to the Academy cinema in 1963. We were on holiday and we went to see Lawrence of Arabia screened with four track magnetic sound. We also saw Mutiny on the Bounty at the ABC Astoria in 70mm with six track magnetic sound. Projectors at the Astoria were Philips DP70s. Brighton was a film goers paradise in 1963. We also visited the ABC, East Street, the old Odeon (now demolished) West Street, the Essoldo, now demolished, the Continentale, converted to flats and several others.

On 19/10/2009

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