Directories listing the residents and traders in Sussex towns started becoming ubiquitous towards the end of the 19th century. These directories listed residents by name, rather like a telephone directory, and by street, like a census, plus a list of local businesses, like a modern Yellow Pages.
Produced by various Sussex & Bexhill firms and the local paper, the most frequent directory publisher was Kelly & Co., whose 1878 edition is in our library. Kellys persevered until 1974 when the format was superseded by the Post Office Telephone Directory and the last Bexhill edition was published.
Sussex historian JH Farrant describes then as an important source of information for studying the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth.
“For the family historian they help to identify the residence of individual people within narrow time limits; for the social historian they can indicate the internal structures of communities; for the economic historian the relative and changing importance of occupations and industries may be revealed, whilst the historical geographer can plot the spatial distribution of those activities.”
Here we publish selected entries from editions from around 1902, when Bexhill became a ‘proper’ town & borough. Farrant has published a directory of directories for the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society, listing about 1,000 editions covering East and West Sussex.
For more information see http://www.sussexias.co.uk/directories.htm.