Lost courts and alleys of North Laine

Photo:Frederick Cottages

Frederick Cottages

Reproduced with the kind permission of the Royal Pavilion and Museums (Brighton and Hove)

The contrast in housing

By Maureen Brand, North Laine resident

Lost to North Laine today are several small residential courts and alleys.

George Aitchison in his book Unknown Brighton commented on "the passion of its [Brighton's] earlier builders for courts and quadrangles" and, whilst noting that they were not to be commended for any particular attractiveness, he wondered "why seamen and seashore men so often when on land mew themselves up in narrow streets or enclosed quadrangles."

The contrast

The answer in many cases was poverty. The gentry had taken over the area around the Steine and housing that could be found and afforded was often poorly drained and ventilated, and overcrowded. Dr Kebbell, a medical officer in the mid 1800s, commented on the contrast: "Our first rate streets are not surpassed, if equalled, in cleanliness and general appearance by any in the world. The streets and districts of the poor, both in filth and general untidiness, and the squalor of the inhabitants, are a disgrace to any civilised people." Thus one of the factors in the sweeping away of small courts was their unhealthy state, though in some later cases general urban 'development' removed others.

Lost courts

Preece's Buildings, off Church Street, was a narrow alley with 12 cottages and 4 outside toilets. It lay between the terraces of Gardner and Regent Streets.

There was slum clearance in the Orange Row, Pym's Gardens, Pimlico area, after which Tichborne Street was built.

A photograph in the excellent James Gray Collection of the Regency Society shows a narrow court, Frederick Cottages, once between Nos 42 and 43 Frederick Place.

Another reminds us of North Road Cottages, squeezed in between Vine Street and Cheltenham Place and reached by a passage between Nos 101 and 102 North Road. (A slaughterhouse marked the entrance in the OS First Edition map of 1876.) Small though they may have been, evidently they were 'home' - plants are growing and washing lines are strung across the alley.

Gerard's Court, running behind King Street (which was longer then), off Church Street, was removed in 1935.

This page was added on 27/03/2008.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.