Queen's Gardens more than a century ago

Photo:Queen's Gardens in the evening, 2009

Queen's Gardens in the evening, 2009

Photo by Henry Bruce

Research using local street directories

By Glenda Clarke, former North Laine resident

What books had me well and truly "hooked", so that I returned to them every day as soon as I had finished my work? A series of good thrillers? No, it was the Brighton street directories in the Reference Library!* These fascinating books were published regularly from 1848 and provide information on the inhabitants of the town. The "court and gentry" are listed, as well as tradesmen, professional people and householders.

Only three people listed

I turned with excitement to Queen’s Gardens to discover who would have been living in our house at that time, but met with disappointment because only three people were listed (a beer retailer, a milliner and a baker), the rest of the street being described as “small tenements”. This description lasted until 1861 when it changed to “small houses”. Many of the streets in this area were so described and some were also “no thoroughfare”.

Kelly's Directory for 1869

A few hours later I was still poring over these books when Kelly’s Directory for 1869 provided a surprise: there was our house, No 34, home of Mr James Morin, a “brass founder and gas fitter”. He lived there for a few years before moving to larger premises at the end of the road. [In 1978 this was the Workers Bookshop.]

Every house now listed

The 1887 Directory was especially interesting because, for the first time, almost every house in the street was listed, so from then on I could follow the movements of all the people living in the road. Some, like Mrs Mogford (the seamstress at No 14) stayed for a few years, while others, like Mr William Bollingbroke (the draper at No 11) stayed for many years - he teamed up for a while with Mr Wilson but the partnership didn’t last.

The life of Mr Collins

At the end of the 19th century a Mr George Collins was living at No 34. At the back, he probably heard the horses kept in Durtnalls Stables and the men working in Judd’s Corn Stores in Upper Gardner Street. If he wanted a drink, he could pop across the road to the Queen’s Tavern at No 7, which had been there for many years and at one time even had a skittle alley. To get some coal he had to go no further than to the General Coal Company at No 46.

Clothes could be ordered from Joe Pollard, the tailor at No 12, and footwear from Mr Stoner, the bootmaker at No 13. Mrs Collins (if there was one) could buy groceries from No 2, where Mrs Bruce kept the General Shop.   No 2 had a varied history, being at various times a fruiterer, coffee house, dining rooms, newsagents, laundry and undertakers, before again becoming a general shop in 1949, and then part of a duplicating shop.

Were they related?

Mr Collins was followed by George Hill and then by Jack Collins, who lived there from 1949 to 1971. Were they related? I don’t know. More research may be able to tell me or perhaps someone reading this knew him and could let us know by adding a comment below....

(*Now located in the Brighton History Centre)


[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 12, February/March 1978 and reprinted in No 206, September/October 2010]

This page was added on 08/11/2010.

 The James Morin mentioned above and listed in the Kelly's directories for 1869 was my great, great grandfather! I have him living there at 34 Queen's Gardens in the 1861 and 1871 Census. He is listed, as stated above, as a Brass Founder and employing 3 men and 2 boys. My question is would he have been employing them at 34 Queen's Gardens or at another location? He can be found in the 1874 and 1878 Directories at 37 Gloucester Rd. Maybe this was where he had a Foundry? Any comments would be very welcome. Regards, Sally

By Sally Morin McDermott
On 11/10/2015

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