Vokins Archive

  • Reference
      GB 1837 DES/VOK
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      Approx 5 linear metres / Six large boxes boxes, two flat boxes, ledgers and volumes (unboxed), framed items, and one plan chest drawer of large format plans and drawings

Scope and Content

While not complete, the archive covers the range of the store's activities including finance; personnel; advertising and marketing; buildings and premises; photographs of displays, store interiors and staff, as well as some Vokins family papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Vokins department store was a mainstay of the Brighton retail scene for over one hundred years until its closure in 1997. Trading from 1882 until 1925 as Leeson & Vokins, a silk mercer's and general draper's, the business grew to specialise in laces, dresses, millinery, furs and mantels. From 1925 William Henry Vokins (1860-1955) became the sole owner and thereafter the business was known as W H Vokins Ltd. Later company names included Vokins of Brighton Ltd. and Vokins of Hove Ltd.

The store occupied two sites at 21-24 and 32-36 North Street. In 1965 a new building provided updated premises, extending the store to 36 North Street. Large expanses of window improved the display of goods, particularly on the corner where the building faced Ship Street. After the store's closure in 1997, the company name continued with a furniture store in Hove.


The papers fall into the following provisional series:

VOK/1 Legal and statutory records

VOK/2 Financial records

VOK/3 Staff records

VOK/4 Building and premises

VOK/5 Marketing and advertising

VOK/6 Photographs

VOK/7 Vokins family papers

Access Information

Researchers wishing to consult the collection should make an appointment. Telephone 44 (0)1273 643217 or email designarchives@brighton.ac.uk.

Acquisition Information

Transferred to the Design Archives by the Vokins family when the store closed in 1997.

Other Finding Aids

A hand list is available, which was prepared by a group of third year History of Decorative Arts and Crafts students, in the late 1990s.

Archivist's Note

Collection level record created in 2006 and updated by Sue Breakell, January 2010.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission must be sought to publish any material from the collection. Email designarchives@brighton.ac.uk