Gordon Charles Dinnis (1923-2001) began his working life in stockings. The term for all things to do with leg coverings was known as ‘hosiery’ and it was quite a big business in the North Laine in Brighton. In fact there were at least three hosiery shops in Gardner Street, during the 1920s – 1940s.
Gordon left school (Park Street S.B. School) in the summer of 1938 and began work on Monday 31st October 1938 at Hansfords, 14 Gardner Street, Brighton. It was a Hosier’s shop, run by Jocelyn Hansford between 1926 and 1939.
There are some details of this shop to be found on the website http://www.geograph.org.uk/ and there are plenty of good photographs of the individual shops taken recently. The history and previous shop owners are listed for number 14. Simon Carey is the photographer and you can see his profile here: http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/1833/
From the 16th of October 1939 Gordon moved along Gardner Street to number 23, where he worked for Harry Woods, another Hosier. There are a couple of amazing photographs I recently found on the website http://www.throughtheeyesofabrightongirl.yolasite.com/
These photographs were taken by Carol Homewood in January 2014, how fortunate that she noticed the renovations taking place. The renovations uncovered the old signage and awning of Harry Woods Hosier business. Looking closely you can make out the name ‘Harry Woods’ which was only available to see for a short time during the renovations. Harry Woods was in business from the early 1930s to the mid 1960s.
There was also another Hosier’s shop in Gardner Street at number 5. Herbert Cassey Hosiers was there from c.1905 to the early 1960s. Carol took the following photograph in 2012.
Hosiery was big business in the 1930s, when nylon was invented, this fabric was described as ‘as strong as steel, as fine as spiders web’. I guess this is why stockings were also known as ‘nylons’.
Gordon joined the Army and went off to serve in Italy in 1943. He was badly injured, and we are fortunate enough to have some letters that he wrote home to his mother.
She kept the letters and I only saw them a few years ago. It really helped me understand what Dad had gone through, as he never talked about his experiences.
He referred to Harry Woods in several of his letters so his employer obviously followed Gordon’s progress through the war years.
In one letter he wrote:
“Please remember me to Mr Woods, and all the others, and tell them I will write when my arm is a little better and I find it easier to write.”
In his following letter he tells of people who sent him birthday wishes for his 21st birthday. This was spent in hospital, and he writes, “I also heard from Mr Woods” so we know the communication went both ways and employer and employee kept in contact.
I think Harry Woods might have been at my parents wedding. I have a photograph in their wedding album, which I know is of one of their employers, so it would be either Harry Woods or Mum’s employer, Mr Jones. Here is the photo, in case anyone recognises him!
Here are some websites of interest: