Dennis & Percy West


West's shop in Steyning High Street

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Newsagents, stationers, booksellers and printers at Steyning. When Reg Bateman retired in 1931/32, Dennis and Percy West acquired his shop at 64 High Street in Steyning (near the Town Clock) and continued the business that he had successfully built up as a stationer, bookseller and newsagent. They also acquired his printing works in nearby Elm Grove Lane, which still operates at the present time, though under newer management.

Dennis and Percy West, who traded initially under the name "D. and P. West Library" and later as "West's Library", published a range of black and white real photographic postcards of Steyning, which were printed for them by the Photochrom Co. Ltd. of Tunbridge Wells. The same firm had previously supplied Reg Bateman with a different range of cards. In addition to various views of contemporary Steyning (including their shop front), the Wests reproduced some interesting Victorian watercolours (unfortunately in black and white) and historic photographs originally taken by Walter Drewett, whose authorship they did not acknowledge and whose captions they tried to remove. Traces of an original caption can be discerned on at least one ex Drewett card. Several record copies of the West cards survive, marked D. West, so evidently Dennis arranged for their printing, and perhaps also undertook the photography. The cards seem mainly to date from the 1940s or 50s, but a view of the shop with four nests of house martins under the eaves was taken in June 1937. The same four nests can just be discerned in the card shown above.

Several buff coloured envelopes have come to light with a picture of Dennis and Percy West's shop on the front; these are believed to have been used for wrapping sets of postcards and similarly small items bought by customers.

Dennis and Percy West were brothers. Both had been born at Steyning: Dennis on June 14, 1893 and Percy (whose full name was Percy Levi West) on September 1, 1898. Their parents were Levi West, a cowman born at Steyning in 1850 and his wife Jane Ann West (formerly Dennis), who hailed from Upchurch in Kent. They had a sister and two other brothers. The 1911 census records that Dennis West was a shop assistant and Percy was a news boy when not at school. Could they both perhaps have worked for Reg Bateman?

Both brothers served in the Great War, Percy joining the Royal Engineers. By 1920 Dennis had married Isabel Mary Fowlie and the couple went on to have five children, including Oliver Dennis West (1927-2004), who ran the Steyning business until the mid 1980s when it closed. Percy West married Mary Jane Austin early in 1925, and like his elder brother had a number of children. In the 1946 Telephone Directory Dennis is listed as living at 5 Newnham Lane in Steyning and Percy at 19 Highland Croft. Dennis died in 1979 aged 86 and Percy in 1989 when he was 91.

Acknowledgement: Grateful thanks are due to Chris Hills and Maggie Costen for contacting this website and supplying some of the above information.

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