Panoramic views of the North Laine

Photo:Copper engraving of the North Laine by W J Alias, c 1850

Copper engraving of the North Laine by W J Alias, c 1850

From Jackie Fuller's collection

Photo:Panoramic view of North Laine in 2010

Panoramic view of North Laine in 2010

Photo by Henry Bruce

Then and now

On the right are two pictures that feature in the NLCA’s new history trail leaflet. They both show North Laine viewed from the east.

Top picture

This is a copper engraving by W J Alias dated c. 1850. Geoffrey Mead, writing in the Landscape Book of Brighton Prints, edited by Selma Montford and Jacqueline Pollard (Brighton Books Publishing, 2005), described it thus:

North Laine seen from the slopes of Hilly Laine

“This spectacular view of the town’s northern suburbs - one of an industrial community - is pictured from the slopes of Hilly Laine, now Hanover. It presents a very different scene from the usual image of the resort. The foreground shows the genteel world of grassed enclosures, strolling gentry and smart carriages, backed by tall, bow-fronted dwellings, the society church of St Peter’s soaring over all.

Packed terraced housing

But the area behind contains packed terraced housing for the workers, intermixed with smoking factories, workshops, stabling, cowsheds, slaughter-yards, and the railway terminus, a social mixture noted in many nineteenth century cities.

Smoking chimneys

The smoking chimneys of Evershed’s soap works, the Regent iron and brass foundry and Eede Butts & Sons’ sawmills were turning out the goods that Brighton needed as a large urban manufacturing centre. Yet only 20 years earlier the local press could say “Brighton is a town of few manufactures”.

A manufacturing buffer-zone

North Laine, with its lack of access to the fashionable Steine and promenade and its gently sloping hillsides, acted as a manufacturing and warehousing buffer-zone between the rural hinterland and the urban centre, where timber, stone, animals, malt and grain were brought in by train to be processed into furniture and metal components, foodstuffs, bacon and beer. The prevailing southwest wind, as seen here, blew the pollution away from the seaside terraces and crescents.

A growing suburban component

The third element of this scene is the semi-rural fringe of windmills, open land and detached housing along the Dyke Road ridge, showing the town as having a growing suburban component.

Bottom picture

The bottom picture is a photo of more or less the same view, taken in 2010 by Henry Bruce.

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 205, July/August 2010]

This page was added on 08/08/2010.

It is also worth having a look at the aerial photographs here for views of North Laine in the 1970s and 80s.

By Anne Fletcher
On 19/08/2010

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