Monday, 14 January 2013

Variety Fayre Brixham in the 1950's

I had two magical maiden aunts, Auntie Jo and Auntie Flo. When my grandparents died they decided to move to Devon and open a very high class gift shop, Variety Fayre in Middle Street, Brixham, South Devon.

They couldn't have done anything better for their one nephew John and two nieces Gillian and me. Brixham at that time was a small picturesque working fishing village in Torbay and was a magical place for any child. Children had much more freedom than they have today and the three of us were allowed more or less carte blanche to do whatever we wanted. It was very much Swallows and Amazons.

The shop was a treasure house of beautiful things, lovely jumpers which became my trade mark and helped me at auditions as they were so outstanding, oil paintings by local artists and an Aladdin's cave of costume and real jewelry. I still love these pretty things today.

At first we were not allowed to serve in the shop so for five years we had to help in the background. I loved organizing the jewelry and counting the takings at the end of the day. This took place late at night as the shop closed at 9 pm. The first time we took £100 Auntie Flo bought us all a strawberry milk shake. I used to do the banking too at the age of 13.

The shop had been a fisherman's cottage and was tiny. It was built into the side of a cliff and you could see the cliff face through the drawing room window.The kitchen was just a sink and a stove. My aunts did not go in for cooking. It was virtually falling down but it was magic to live in. The gas geyser in the bath room would burn eyebrows off whenever we needed a bath.

I spent every Easter and Summer holidays here and loved every minute. It was and still is my idea of heaven. Sometimes I went in October when Brixham was empty and the wind whistled down the street. I loved this empty time too.

Janette Miller in garden Brixham 1959

How my aunts put up with the three of us during this busy time I shall never know as the three of us could be difficult. They were such troopers and the most perfect maiden aunts ever.


  1. Hello Janette,
    I was fascinated to read your blog as I too was in Brixham at that time & remember Variety Fair very well!
    We lived there & my parents were artists, my Mother is 99 this year!
    I can remember coming in to the shop with my little sister & being measured for party dresses which were made for us in London - very exciting! My grand-daughter still has mine for "dressing up" I'd love to hear more of your memories - perhaps you'd like to hear mine. Best wishes, Jain.

    1. Here is the story of my aunt and The Brixham Town Council you may enjoy

  2. Thank you so much for your comment and how great that you remember the shop! It was magic. I should love to share your memories. I am on Face Book Janette Miller Auckland New Zealand and that way we can get in touch. I have another entry about my Auntie Jo and the Brixham Council that you might enjoy here too! I still have one or two of my jumpers as well. Look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Exactly, you're very kind of us about comment!.
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