Monday, 8 December 2008

Cruse's Stores, Rottingdean

Valerie Hedgecock has sent me an interesting article, dating from June 2001, which was published in one of the local Brighton newspapers. The article relates the history of two village stores in Rottingdean High Street which are remembered with great affection by their old customers and were renowned for their tradition of great service. Richardson's Stores was established in 1823 though under a different name, and continued to trade until 1962. Cruse's Stores opened in 1918 at 14 High Street on the opposite side of the road to Richardson's, and the two businesses enjoyed a friendly rivalry.

Cruse's Stores was founded by Jimmy Cruse, who had previously worked as an assistant at Richardson's Stores. By the time the Rottingdean store had opened Jimmy already had a shop at 14 Upper St James's Street, Brighton. His ambition had been to open ten branches but he apparently died by 1931 from overwork. The Brighton store was managed by Jimmy's brother-in-law Jack Foster, who was joined in 1928 by Jimmy's son Ron. It traded as a grocer's until the end of 1962, when it was converted into a greengrocer's by Ron's son Alan. The greengrocer's store continued in business for a further 16 years before closing in 1995.

I've not yet been able to work out which tree these Rottingdean Cruses belong to. From the GRO indexes I've been able to establish that there was a Ronald Thomas Cruse born on 19th August 1909 in the Brighton Registration District. He died in October 2004 at the age of 95. The only James Cruse I can find in Sussex in the 1901 census was born c. 1857 in Chailey. His wife Alice was already 40 in 1901 and would possibly have been too old to be the mother of the Ronald Cruse born in 1909. I cannot find a record of the death of Jimmy Cruse in the GRO indexes up to 1931, and I have not yet extracted the deaths after this date. I suspect I will need to wait for the release of the 1911 census before solving this problem. In the meantime I would be very pleased to hear from anyone with further information about this line. I have now scanned the article and can send out copies on request. The article has some lovely old photographs of the store and pictures of Ron Cruse and his father Jimmy.


Andrew Millard said...

FreeBMD has John Thomas Foster possibly marrying Elizabeth Cruse in 1900 Epsom RD. This is one of only two possible Cruse-Foster marriages on FreeBMD. Does she lead you to the appropriate family?

Andrew Millard said...

A couple more pointers:

On, Kelly's Directory of Sussex, 1911 and Kelly's Directory of Sussex, 1905, both have Walter Cruse, grocer, at 14 Upper St James Street, Brighton.

Ronald Thomas Cruse attended Varndean School: see

Debbie Kennett said...

Many thanks Andrew. The directories have provided the vital clue – Jimmy's real name was Walter not James! A Walter Cruse died in the June quarter of 1931 in the Brighton Registration District at the age of 61. Working backwards a Walter Cruse married in the June quarter of 1904 in the Brighton District. There are two possible brides: Laura Holford and Kate Louisa Wood. I'm hoping that Colin Ulph will be able to find this marriage in the Brighton Marriage Challenge. I can't find Walter in the 1901 census at present (he possibly served in the Boer War) but in 1891 there is a Walter Cruse, age 21, living with his parents Richard and Mary Jane Cruse. To clinch matters Walter is working as a grocer's assistant. I now need to do some work on the family of Richard Cruse, but I can already see from the censuses that Richard was born in Chailey, Sussex, and he will inevitably belong somewhere in my Chailey tree.

Andrew Millard said...

A Laura Cruse aged 48 died in Brighton District in 1918, and a Laura Holford was born in Brighton in 1870. No Kate Cruse death is in FreeBMD, and the only Kate Louisa Wood birth is in 1859. So I'd plump for Laura Holford as Walter's wife.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Cruses Stores Rottingdean in 1970.
Still have my handwritten payslips from Mr Cruse!
Dont know when Alan changed it to a greengrocers.
Cannot tell you much about family history but they were really nice family.
Can tell you about the way the store was run if you want.

Debbie Kennett said...

How exciting to find someone who actually worked at Cruse's stores! Do share with us your memories. I can publish them as a separate blog post if you like and include scans of the handwritten payslips!