Home news Brighton's first tattoo shop owner remembered as 'loveable rogue'

Brighton's first tattoo shop owner remembered as 'loveable rogue'


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A TATTOOIST who set up the first parlour in Brighton with his brother has been remembered by family members as “loveable rogue”.

Robert Bonwick, known as Bob, who lived in Brighton for his whole life, died aged 69 on December 27 last year.

Bob attended St Luke’s Primary School and Elm Grove Primary School and took up wrestling during his time as a young pupil.

He later worked as a tattooist with his brother Alan in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The two brothers were involved in a serious crash that left both with what his daughter, Joanne, described as a “dodgy leg”. Bob later had it amputated.

Bob ran a tattoo shop at the end of Brighton Palace Pier for many years, which became well known by residents, as well as one in Surrey Street.

In his earlier days working as a tattooist, Bob had to order in powder and other equipment from America to produce body art for locals and those who travelled from further afield to have tattoos done.

Fishing was one of Bob’s main hobbies and he also used to enjoy going shooting.

Joanne recalled that he once tripped and got stuck in a rabbit hole while out shooting.

During his time spent tattooing on the pier, Bob used to have a trap hole in the wooden floorboards of the shop, which he would set up a fishing rod and cast a line down to the water below to see what he could catch.

Joanne, who spent time at the shop with her father when she was young, remembers how he would stop working when he caught a fish, before getting back to doing tattoos.

Bob had a varied career after he stopped tattooing, working as an iron welder and helping to produce a lot of fire escapes around the city. He was also an electrician for Seeboard.

He was sometimes tasked with setting up lighting on the Mazda Fountain at the northern end of Victoria Gardens, Brighton.

Bob’s funeral, which was attended by 120 people, was held last Wednesday at Woodvale Crematorium in Brighton.

He is survived by his two daughters Sarah and Joanne and his grandchildren.

Paying tribute to her father, Joanne said: “He was a bit of a loveable rogue and a bit of a character.

“He was never in trouble but mixed with those sorts of people.

“I wasn’t allowed to get a tattoo at the time and still haven’t got one.

“He had lots of friends and met some lovely people in his time.

“He needed to accept his false leg after having it amputated and used to say he wanted to go out and still see people.

“He loved people and used to go to the pub to socialise with friends.

“At his funeral I put his prosthetic leg on the coffin.

“He used to play a lot of jokes with it.”

Source: The Argus