Art & Design


Remembering Brightway Corner Milk Bar

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My childhood was spent in Preston and against all the odds I survived.

These days Preston easier to survive and from the look of the street I grew up in, it is a happy place to be. Practically every house in my childhood neighbourhood has been ‘restored’.

Unrestored and in many ways just the way it was when it first opened back in the 1950s is the ‘Brightway Corner’ Milk Bar. There is a tram stop right out the front which was moved about twenty five metres a few decades back. The reason for the move is unclear but now the trams block a side street when they stop, which is cool I guess.

Sixty years is a long time. No one seems to remember who built this tiny milk bar but it is still there selling all the things that modern convenience stores sell. I do remember that the original owner ran the store for a long time; people did that in those days, unlike today where you just have time to learn the new owner’s name before they sell up in an endless game of ‘flip the convenience store’.

I remember going into this store to do what small boys do and choosing my favourite sweet, when mum’s budget would allow. The inexplicably relocated tram stop was where I would stand waiting for a tram to take me to primary school (the only form of school that was fun to be a part of). Much later in life it was the turn around point in my daily run as I escaped momentarily from the sadness of nursing my dying mum.

I still visit Brightway Corner a couple of times a year as it is very close to Russell Sports where the cheapest and best Asics sports shoes in the world can be found.

Brightway Corner stands on the corner of Gilbert and Oakover Roads and is directly across the road from one of my other favourite childhood memories, the building that was once a suburban cinema. The Rivoli was built in 1936 and closed in 1961. I remember being taken to see a Mickey Rooney movie there in the late 1950s; in pyjamas of course.

The cinema would have had it’s own refreshment bar but I’m betting that Brightway Corner would have benefited from having it so close by and when it closed I can imagine the owner worrying about the effect on his business. It survived and despite the decimation delivered upon the suburban milk bar by the advent of the modern convenience store, it still clings to existence.

Maybe it’s survival has something to do with the ‘old school’ gold leaf sign above the door. The sign would have been very expensive in it’s day and shows it’s owner’s confident optimism which has proven to be prophetic.

Long may Brightway Corner shine.

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