A Brief History


My grandfather, Morris Fileman, who was an electrical engineer in Brighton in the 1890's when the use of electricity was in its infancy, started what would become our family business . As a young man of 21, after training in London, he went to New Zealand to oversee the installation of their first electricity generating plant. He electrified the Palace Pier and many of the large hotels and theatres in Brighton. At that time many people were installing modern light fittings, and he was often asked to dispose of the old ones. He felt that these should be saved and began to build up a stock of regency and victorian chandeliers and component parts. He opened a shop with a workshop in Queens Road, later moving to Preston Street and concentrating solely on antique lighting until his retirement in the late 1940's.


Morris's eldest son, John Fileman (my father) fought as a teenager in the First World War, losing a leg on the Somme. On his return, and still on crutches awaiting a prosthetic limb, he started to buy pieces of eighteenth century English glass and found an outlet for these with Arthur Churchill and, after his death, with Cecil Davis and others. After opening his own shop in Dyke Road in Brighton in 1948 and the transfer of my grandfather's stock, he reached a much wider clientele and ran a successful business selling antique lighting, eighteenth and nineteenth century glass and French paperweights until his death in 1962.


Some of my earliest recollections are of watching my father restoring chandeliers, and of visits to my grandfather's store to find period replacements for damaged or missing components. As a child I was captivated by the wonderful objects which surrounded me, and I worked with my father from an early age. When he died, although I was still at school, I left immediately to take over the running of the business with my mother, Vera, and have continued its development with my wife Sandra. With both the business and my family growing we moved to larger premises in Steyning in 1975. As each of my sons left school they joined the business, each with their particular expertise. We now have an experienced team who can restore, rewire and install antique lighting and we carry a large stock of eighteenth and nineteenth century items.


David R. Fileman

   Fileman Antiques - Brighton