Grand Parade Garage
Original green tiles and an inscription above the doorway reading ‘Grand Parade Garage 1918’ gives a clue to one of the former uses of what is now known as Trafalgar Mews, a small complex of live/work units just off Trafalgar Street in the North Laine area of Brighton.
Run by a pair of brothers
‘Grand Parade Garage’ was run by a pair of brothers: Louis and Bernie Goldberg and in 1994 Leila Abrahams interviewed them for a chapter in her booklet ‘We’re not all Rothschilds!’.
Description by Leila Abrahams
Leila Abrahams wrote at that time:
“I walked along to No 16 Trafalgar Street and rang the bell on a large red garage door, above which was the inscription 'Grand Parade Garage 1918'. I was invited up a narrow stairway into a small crowded room where Bernie Goldberg sat in a wheelchair and Louis, his older brother, had two quadruped sticks beside him. Both had been born spastic [now called celebral palsy]. But despite their initial handicap they have faced life cheerfully and courageously. They both drive, have specialist abilities and run the funeral needs of Brighton and Hove Jewry.
Second generation British
They are second generation British. Their father, a coppersmith from Poland, married an English girl and moved to Brighton from London in 1921. Here he had a small garage where he made body parts and metal work for cars. Later he was chosen to repair the copper domes on the Royal Pavilion. He was a huge man of 28 stone who could neither read nor write English, yet he invented his own formulae for fluxes for ferrous metals. He died in 1953 at the age of 70 leaving his sons to carry on the business.
Born in Stepney
Louis was born in Stepney in 1916 during an air-raid. There was no-one to help, so his mother had to deliver a breach presentation herself. It is possible that this was the cause of his spasticity.
A motor repair business
Louis' father and his brother Sammy (who was killed in the Battle of Britain in 1940) had taken over the premises in Trafalgar Street and were running a motor repair and engineering business. Louis, by dint of much perseverance and being fed up with being an invalid, determined to take on a share of the work. Lying on his back he would scrape the bearings and gradually, as he became stronger, he took a more active part, so that during the war he could not only drive but he also became a despatch rider and a mortician for the civilian dead.
They contracted to carry out funerals
His father, having the facilities, began contracting to the Brighton and Hove Hebrew Congregation to carry out funerals. They made the coffins and provided transport for burials at Florence Place, Ditchling Road, which was donated to Jewry in 1826 by Thomas Kemp. In 1950, when the British Embalmers' Society was formed, Louis sat the examinations and gained top marks, thus becoming the first Jewish embalmer in the UK.
Bernie was born in 1928
Bernie was born in June 1928 when his mother was 45. Whether it was his mother's age or the breach presentation is not known, but he was also born spastic. His first school was at Pelham Street Infants [now part of City College] and then he went, until the age of 11, to St Bartholomew’s Church of England school. There were four other Jewish children at the school and their religion was respected.
He studied engineering design
Showing artistic ability he got a place in the Art School and studied engineering design. He was conscripted at the age of 16 to engrave dials, controls and weapon parts for the Russian allies and on his release he went to work in the family business.
Premises previously a slaughterhouse
He went on to tell me that when they bought No 16 Trafalgar Street it had originally been a butchers and slaughterhouse. They paid around £2,000 for the whole property but had been unable to alter it in any way as it was a listed property in what became a conservation area.
Bernie got married
Bernie married in 1954 but had no children. Louis, who never married, served as Chairman of Brighton and Hove Spastic Society [now called Scope] and also of the Brighton and Hove Charitable Youth Trust. He appeared on BBC TV in November 1992 in a discussion about replacing the word ‘spastic’ with ‘cerebral palsy’, arguing in favour of keeping the term ‘spastic’!
These two men appeared to bear no grudge at fate. They have charming, humorous personalities and I was most impressed that despite their handicap they ran the business together, have kept up with modern technology by using computers, both drive cars, and they carry on a successful and efficient business."
By Jackie Fuller
[Previously published with the author’s permission in the North Laine Runner, No 131, January/February 1998 and reprinted in No 208, January/February 2011. The article was based on extracts from ‘Louis and Bernie Goldberg’, a chapter in We're not all Rothschilds! by Leila Abrahams, published by QueenSpark Books, 1994.
Sadly Lou Goldberg died some years ago and after Bernie Goldberg retired the premises was sold to a local developer who obtained planning permission to turn it into flats and live/work units, now called Trafalgar Mews.