About Sydney Street

Photo:Sydney Street

Sydney Street

Photo by Peter Crowhurst

Photo:The Co-op in Sydney Street at the turn of the last century

The Co-op in Sydney Street at the turn of the last century

Photo reproduced with kind permission of 'Step Back in Time'

Sydney Street

A brief history

By Peter Crowhurst, North Laine resident

Today Sydney Street is synonymous with what many people think the North Laine stands for - an area of interesting, independent, small scale shops, the type you will not find on the high street, selling items from all over the world. There are traditional cafés and pubs, alongside second hand record, book and comic dealers, alongside shops selling beads and ethnic goods. But these changes have come about only recently. It was not that long ago that local residents had the choice of several butchers and could do much of their daily shopping in Sydney Street.

At the turn of the 19th century Sydney Street was a main shopping street for local residents, who did not have to go further than this street for food, clothing and general household goods. The Pikes 1900 Trade Directory tells us that there were builders (No 2), furniture dealers (No 3), dressmakers (No 11), pianoforte tuners (No 12), gasfitters (No 13), engravers (No 18), leathersellers (No 22), bakers (No 40), drapers (No 31), grocers (No 48), as well as the Co-Op Clothing Store at No 24.

This page was added on 03/05/2008.

When we were quite small girls, back in the 1950s, my sisters and I were often sent to Sydney Street at the end of a Saturday afternoon to bid for meat. The butchers treated us as they did the adults and quite often knocked a joint down to us, throwing in a pound of sausages as a bonus.

I don't recall anyone pushing us out of the way although I do remember feeling very small amongst the 'big people'. With hindsight, I guess some of the other bidders held back to enable us to take home something for the table. I imagine too that the butcher sometimes didn't give others the opportunity to bid above us!

I can still smell that street, full as it was of butchers' shops, and can see the turkeys hanging at Christmas, the sawdust and the light streaming out onto the pavement late on a winter's afternoon.

By Janet née Keats
On 09/05/2009

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