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Home <> Lifestory Library <> Pick of The Week <> Mannequins and the famous restaurant




  Contributor: Winifred BerryView/Add comments



This article was first published in the West Sussex Gazette on 16th March 2000.

In the previous episode Mrs Winifred Berry told how, when she was Mrs Sessions, she worked at the restaurant on the top floor of Hubbard's town centre department store in South Street, Worthing before it was destroyed by a fierce fire in 1947, and how she worked as a bus conductress before returning to waiting in the catering trade.

When she eventually left Hubbard's she had to give up her tied flat. She continues:-
'I had got married again. My husband had a bungalow so I was all right! We lived there for about 13 years and then he died. I must admit I didn't divorce any of them or do anything to them either! The first one died in 1942 and my son was about two and a half years old. I was about twenty-six at the time and left a widow.

Hubbard's waitresses c 1956: back row l to r, Betty, Rhona, Joan and unknown; front row l to r, Janet, Beryl, and Win Sessions.

I was married again to a bus conductor in 1945 and we were together about twenty years. He was ill, had epileptic fits and also TB, and finished up with emphysema. He had to give up driving on the buses when they found out he had epileptic fits. They didn't know then you see, he was still driving like that.

I kept saying to him you shouldn't be doing this job you know but he said 'I'm all right, I'll get over it'. I didn't give him away but he had a fit while he was in the office and of course they found out then. They put him on to being a bus conductor and he didn't like that. He packed that up.

Then after that he didn't work much more and I had to keep him and be the breadwinner. That's when I was working at Hubbard's. All he was getting was £3 a week from the National Health. Then he had to go up for a means test for that every so often. And look what they do today: they get away with everything.

While I was working there one or two famous people came, like Peter Sellers who came with his wife and had lunch there. One of our regular customers, Nancy Price, used to come in quite a lot. Then there was David Jacobs, with his brother but I got to know the brother more as he came as a regular customer. The brother lived in Worthing with their mother. I suppose that's why David Jacobs used to come round to see him. David Jacobs himself lived at Kingston Gorse at one time.

We had some fun in the restaurant at times and I used to have to keep the peace out there mind you. We used to get a bit of trouble sometimes out in the kitchen. One person didn't want to work with somebody and I'd have to go and separate them and put them in another department. Things like that you know. We had a very nice chef there then he left and his son Michael took over. He got married while I was there and took over the flat I had. I'm afraid their marriage didn't last too long, the next thing I heard was they'd split up.
I recall one of the mannequins, a beautiful girl named Kim, used to walk round while the lunches were on and in the tea time would walk all round the restaurant, showing off different outfits.

One year while I was there we had a mannequin parade, I think it was rather a good idea because they started off with a young girl of 18, then they went up to somebody in their twenties, somebody in their thirties, and forties, fifties, sixties and the oldest one was seventy. Her name was Louise and she worked at Swandean Hospital. It was a good idea because it let people see what was best and suitable for their ages. It was a lovely show that was really marvellous; I did enjoy that. There was also a model by the name of Godfrey who I seem to recall, but Kim was the one I remember mostly.

The restaurant used to be packed out every day, there was never an empty table. They would come up in the lift, or walk up the stairs. Of course we had all our regulars and I had to show them to their seats and they all had to have their special waitress. I had to remember whom they wanted and lead them to their seats. Then I had to fill in the other seats for the people who hadn't booked. Oh it was quite a job but I did enjoy it though as I said. Or I was on the phone most of the time checking the linen or booking the tables; never a dull moment!

We had a big sweet counter behind the cash desk in the restaurant, selling sweets and chocolates. The Restaurant itself occupied the entire top floor. It had a lovely kitchen, spotlessly clean. There were sixteen waitresses. Out of the kitchen we had a ladies cloakroom with a lady there in charge. Then they had a chef, an assistant chef, one lady in charge of doing the salads and another used to do the serving up as the waitresses went out with their orders.'

While Winifred was working at Hubbard's her son, David Sessions, started out as an apprentice aged 15 at Bentall's, the department store almost opposite. He is still there, having worked his way up to become assistant store manager and is now 59, but that's another story.

In the final episode read all about interesting incidents that happened when Winifred and her second husband worked together on the buses.



Proud cup winners: The Royal George (formerly in Market Street) ladies' darts team of the 1950s includes three Hubbard's waitresses: bottom right Win Sessions (now Berry), holding cup the late Dot Wren, and back row 2nd from right the late Janet Webster.
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