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Created by ArgusCommunities on 01/04/2010
Last updated: 20/04/10 at 13:25
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By Louise Simmons
I moved to Robert Street, North Laine in 1997.
How things were
The huge, empty, old Argus printing works ran the whole length of the street. Where Robert Street joins North Road, was a ramshackle selection of near derelict houses, some used as squats and some full of pigeons! Opposite Robert Street was the entrance to the Prince Regent swimming pool car park. (When closed, it was the perfect space to learn to ride a bike, as my daughter did here!) You could look right across this scruffy car park, and see past Pinocchio's and Pavilion Gardens to North Street. In the middle of Robert Street, sandwiched between the terraced houses, was an empty building that had been used as a furniture warehouse.
How things are now
The North Laine itself has become increasingly prosperous and busy and our quiet street has become a busy thoroughfare for everyone visiting the popular pubs, bars and restaurants. When we first arrived you were far more likely to hear the odd window being smashed than a rowdy group of revellers staggering and singing along the road.
Fire at the Argus buildings
The Old Argus buildings suffered a massive fire and was reduced to a mere shell. The fire is still talked about by residents, as the whole street was evacuated in the middle of the night and the sheer scale and heat from that fire was terrifying. The Argus building seemed to change hands a number of times after the fire, before being finally developed into loft apartments. It is now known as the Argus Lofts and seems to have become a local North Laine landmark.
The development of the area
The empty furniture warehouse was converted into housing association flats. The car park has disappeared under the vast Jubilee Street development. The houses were demolished in 2002 (see photos) and that area now houses more apartments and the amazing new Jubilee Library. Currently the retail area of the site is still under construction, but I anticipate when it is completed, the personality of Robert Street and the North Laine will change again.
A Personal view
Photos and text by Zoe Bradford
The Museum, run as a charity, was founded in 1990 within the arches, which were built over 100 years earlier to support the forecourt of Brighton Station. Throughout the century, the archways have had some interesting uses. One archway was the entrance to the old Cab Road, that took horse drawn cabs through a tunnel up to the platform level of the station above. The arches have also been used as wine cellars, stables and army offices during WW2. They are even reputed to be haunted by a young man who, unlucky in love, threw himself into the silo of the brewery that was then on the site.
Beginnings and today
by Ray and Raquel, Kiwi tourists
Infinity Foods was founded by three Sussex University graduates in the late 1960s. It became a co-operative in 1971 at its Church Street premises before moving in 1972 to its present address at 25 North Road. The shop was enlarged after a fire in 1977 which destroyed the original premises.
by Geoff Mead During the period after WWII there was a steady decline in the manufacturing base of the area. The whole area was generally run down, leaving it as a typical inner-city, post-industrial neighbourhood.
By David Sewell
I had the great fortune after 20 years of searching to find a postcard showing my grandfather's refreshment hut adjacent to the Royal Pavilion. This great find happened at Lewes Market, and shows the original wooden hut in 1944 by the side of the old Brighton Road. The cafe was here from 1941 to 1950 when the Council constructed the current building between March and October 1950.
The Pavilion Cafe has its own website and if you would like to find out more about its history go to www.paviliongardenscafe.co.uk
The first 'trunk murder' at Brighton occurred in 1831 when John Holloway murdered his wife near Edward Street and carried her remains in a trunk to a wood at Lovers Walk to bury her. He was hung in public at Lewes, and she was reburied at PrestonChurch.
The more famous Brighton Trunk Murders followed in quick succession in 1934 and led to the town being nicknamed 'the queen of slaughtering places'! On 17 June 1934 a woman's torso was found in a trunk at Brighton Station's left-luggage office by a railman, but although the legs were found at King's Cross the next day the head and arms were never recovered and the identities of the victim, a young pregnant woman, and her murderer were never discovered.
Four weeks later, on 15 July 1934, police discovered the body of 41-year-old prostitute Violet Saunders in a trunk at 52 Kemp Street, killed by a blow to the head. Toni Mancini, a man of many aliases and the dead woman's 'pimp', was soon arrested, but was acquitted after being brilliantly defended by Norman Birkett. Mancini claimed that he had found Saunders dead on his bed at 44 Park Crescent and, panicking, wheeled her in a basket to Kemp Street. However, in a newspaper article in 1976 Mancini confessed to the murder.
This spectacular cinema stood near the corner with North Street and was opened on 27 July 1921 by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres Ltd at the immense cost of over £400,000; it was built on the site of the Unicorn Inn and several other buildings. The Regent was the first of several giant Brighton cinemas, seating about 3,000 people, and indeed it was considered the most luxurious cinema in the country, the first `super-cinema'. Designed by theatre architect Robert Atkinson, and with a classical interior by Walpole Champneys, it had spacious foyers and galleries, the Ship Cafe, and a Georgian-style restaurant with an orchestra. There was also a side entrance in North North Street at the corner of Windsor Street.
A barrow hire yard
Diplock's yard in North Road is one of the few remaining yards in Brighton. It used to be known as Diplock's Barrow Hire and from 1915-75 it provided an unusual form of transport used daily by a great number of people - barrows or hand trucks as they were known.
Roy Smith who ran the yard for many years wrote in the North Laine Runner in 1985 that, "A number of regular customers were what are called `totters' or `rag-and-bone men', who would go around the streets shouting and collecting any item that would earn a few coppers, such as old clothing, bits of furniture and scrap metal."
In 1975 the barrows became uneconomic and were disposed of. The last two were sold and shipped to Johannesburg in South Africa.
Using the proceeds from several exhibitions which were held at the Royal Pavilion in the 1850s, a municipal art collection was established in some of the first-floor rooms of the Pavilion in about 1860; in 1862 the display was joined by various museum collections that had been presented to the corporation. In 1869 the museum collection was augmented by that of the Royal Scientific and Literary Institution which also left the town a collection of books to enable a reference library to be established at the Pavilion.
The space available in the Royal Pavilion soon proved inadequate, and so borough surveyor Philip Lockwood remodelled the former servants' quarters, coach houses and stables connected with the Dome in Church Street as a new art gallery, library and museum, fitted out in Moorish style. The new art gallery opened on 20 January 1873 in the large central hall, into which the entrance led directly, and the new museum was opened on 12 September 1873 at the same time as the library by Dr Carpenter of the British Association; rooms were devoted to archaeology, botany, geology and zoology.
by Geoff Mead, local historian
In the mid-nineteenth century, Orange Row was part of a notorious slum district. Its old houses were demolished in the 1870s in Brighton's first slum clearance scheme, and replaced by artisan houses in Tichbourne Street some of which in turn have been demolished.
In the area around Orange Row, 1000 people lived in 175 dwellings, a nest of alleyways and courtyards with appalling sanitation. According to the 1861 census, they were mostly labourers, fishermen, washer and charwomen.
Orange Row in the 1990s has no houses but a line of lock-up garages and a furniture repair workshop - along with a few stray cats and lots of black plastic bin bags!
by Geoff MeadBy the middle of the 19th century, the North Laine was a major manufacturing area for the retail outlets in the Old Town. It was also the area most used for saw-mills, foundries, stabling, slaughter-houses and food processing. The housing was mainly for skilled artisans and the local unskilled workforce.
by Linda, lesbian activist
This building on the corner of North Road and Gardner Street was probably built as a pub. As early as 1845, it is listed in street directories as the Dorset Arms.
Since the beginning of the century, it was frequented by journalists and newspaper staff from the nearby Evening Argus building, before this was relocated at Hollingbury in the early 1990s.
Now called the Dorset Street Bar, the change in character of this pub from a working environment to a part of Brighton's cafe society is indicative of the change that has taken place in the larger area of the North Laine, formerly the town's main industrial area.
Developed from about 1808 onwards, the first street northwards from North Road , Kensington Gardens forms an attractive pedestrian precinct at the heart of the North Laine and retains its setts in the pathway. Originally the houses did indeed have gardens, and some of the shops on the eastern side can be seen to be single-storey extensions in the gardens of larger two- and three-storey houses behind. No.5, which was the Kensington Gardens Institute for working men from 1865 until 1920, retains its early-nineteenth-century bowed front of mathematical tiles, while several others, notably nos.7-11, retain original facades above the shop-fronts. It must be hoped that any future rebuilding will not affect the character of this charming street.
by Geoff Mead
Before about 1780, most of the town's housing and services were located in the Old Town. The rest of Brighton's parish was arranged as five large open fields (laines) owned in strips (paul-pieces) by a multiplicity of landowners. The North Laine was the area that most of the storage and manufacturing trades moved into as demand for land rose in the Old Town.