‘I got this in Dockerills,’ sung the ‘Unofficial Mayor of Brighton’, Terry Garoghan, to the tune of Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’. If you don’t know Dockerill’s, you don’t know Brighton.

New Road was laid out in 1805 under the supervision of William Porden, the Borough Surveyor, to replace a road to the east that ran right past the Prince of Wales’ original Pavilion. It was Porden who built the Dome as stables for the Prince from 1803-8. No. 24, known as Regent House, is a flint-cobbled bow-fronted building with brick dressings built by a Mr Rob Furner. It was once the Regent Hotel and then Crabb’s Wine Merchants until the 1980s. The building acquired Grade II Listed status in 1952.

Dockerills is based at 2 Church Street, once the stables at the rear of the hotel. Church Street wasn’t the original home of the firm though; it began on Edward Street and later moved to Gardner Street. Walter Dockerill established the business around one hundred years ago and passed it on to his son, Walter Harry Dockerill, who in turn passed it on to his son, Malcolm Dockerill. Malcolm runs it with his wife, Brenda, and their daughters, Karen and Jo, and son-in-law, Ryan. Dockerills winning ‘Best Company Offering Service to its Customers’ in the 2005 Brighton & Hove Business Awards speaks for itself.

The subterranean is a running theme throughout my columns and it was the large tunnel running beneath the Church Street pavement that led to me writing this piece. From Dockerills’ basement to beneath New Road, it is said to have once provided access to the Pavilion; perhaps explained by the fact that Mrs Fitzherbert, the Prince’s lover, lived at the Regent Hotel for some time. Although a sandwich bar currently occupies 24 New Road at street level, the original massive basement remains undivided; explained by the fact that Mr Dockerill owns both sections of the building. A series of large vaults, once the Regent Hotel’s wine store, is today where every hardware product known to man is stored. When New Road was recently made pedestrian-friendly, the tunnel was breached from above; much to the surprise of an unsuspecting workman.

Like Terry Garoghan and the Royal Pavilion, Dockerills is a great local institution that more than embraces those unique characteristics of Brighton that we all know and love – and that is why it should be supported