Some fragments of North Laine's past

Photo:Patching & Son Ltd, Builders & Decorators, Portland Street, 1984

Patching & Son Ltd, Builders & Decorators, Portland Street, 1984

Photo by Geoffrey Mead

Photo:Patching's Yard, Portland Street, 1984

Patching's Yard, Portland Street, 1984

Photo by Geoffrey Mead

Photo:Advertisement for William Henry Webber, Portland Street

Advertisement for William Henry Webber, Portland Street

Photo by Geoffrey Mead

Photo:Blaber's Portland Foundry Ltde, Portland Street

Blaber's Portland Foundry Ltde, Portland Street

Photo by Geoffrey Mead

Found among some papers from an old colleague

By Geoffrey Mead

I recently acquired some books and papers of historical interest from an old colleague. Amongst the volumes were a few undated pages which seemed to have been part of a 19th century trade or street directory, circa 1876. The intriguing entries were for a range of Sussex trades - Tunbridge Ware [ornamental wooden boxes], chicken feeding machines, trug baskets, lime and brick manufacturers; but several were for Brighton addresses.

G Hammond

G Hammond, "Ironmonger, 50 North Street, Brighton. Gasfitter, Smith etc. Artizan's Tools. Cutlery, Electro-plate, Japanned and Papier Mache trays, Baths, Trunks, Dish Covers, Lamps, Fenders and Fire-irons, Curbs, Tile Hearths, Gas Fittings, Knife Cleaning Machines, Brushes, Brooms, Door Mats, Kitcheners, Cottage Ranges, Builders Ironmongery at Wholesale Prices"

This sounds remarkably similar to Dockerill’s stock in trade today and only a block away. The address (if numbering is the same) is now [2012] Jason’s Café.

Browning & Woodroffe

Browning & Woodroffe. Original importers of Sparkling Vouvray Champagne in1867. Wine & Spirit Merchants. Retail branch offices: Station Street, Lewes, and Old Brighton Wine House, 157 Western Road, Brighton

The premises at No 157 would have been demolished in the council widening of that section of Western Road in 1926. Boots the Chemists magnificent store opened in 1928 and is now Argos and MacDonald’s.

Champagne to Big Macs…a metaphor for Western Road in general!

Struve & co

Royal German Spa, Queen's Park, Brighton. Under the patronage of Her Majesty. Established 1825. Struve & Co. The original and only genuine manufacturers of Brighton Seltzer and Pyrophosphate of iron waters. The purest, most delicious and most refreshing of all Tonic Waters, prepared with Distilled Water.

Brighton ‘natives’ of a certain age… (ie ME!) will remember from their youth Hooper Struve’s mineral waters (including peculiarly green lemonade). The German Spa - or its surviving portico - remains at the foot of Queen’s Park and is now the location of a local children’s nursery.

Prudden & Son in Spring Gardens

A few adverts were for long-gone premises in the North Laine.

Prudden and Son "Bookbinding extraordinary, speciality 'Leisure House' 'Quiver' - Spring Gardens, Church Street (close to the Presbyterian Church), Queen's Road. Established 1836"

Spring Gardens today is a wind tunnel between [2012] LA Fitness and the huge electricity sub-station, but well into the 20th century it was a residential street with a candle makers, French polishers, bookmakers, and three separate printing works - presumably one of these was associated at an earlier period with Prudden.

William Brown in New Road

William Brown "Sussex Brass Manufactory, Beer Engines and all kinds of Brass Work Manufactured on the Premises, 22 New Road, Brighton. Casting every day. Old work re-lacquered equal to new"

My street directories only go back to 1925 and they show nothing resembling a brass manufactory in New Road. Street numbering does change from time to time and 1925 shows that address to be the Unitarian Chapel. It is certainly a trade that would be in the North Laine, and there was a brass manufactory in Gloucester Street until the 1980s.

William Henry Webber with offices in Portland Street

William Henry Webber [from the late firm of Pataching & Webber] Builder, Contractor and Oven Builder. Ovens carefully repaired. Furnaces altered. Smoke consuming appliances. Boilers set, all Sorts and Sizes. Brewers' coppers set. Maltsters' furnaces lined and builders' work generally. Residence 42 Clifton Street. Offices 28 Portland Street, Brighton.

We are on safer ground here. Portland Street was an important industrial site with a range of businesses, many with related products to Webber’s. Pikes Directory 1925 lists amongst the domestic residences: three builders works, a surgical appliance manufacturers, two mechanical engineers, plumbers, wire works, motor engineers, two tailors, saddlers, antique restorers, brass founders, glass bevellers, French polishers. The site on the corner of Church Street, recently ‘The Mound’ of guerrilla gardeners’ fame, was until the mid-1980s an 18th century industrial complex of old stables used as a car spares business and Patching’s builders yard of much antiquity and of a simple architectural merit. Adjacent was Blaber’s Portland Foundry, where hot metal castings could be seen taking place with seemingly scant regard for ‘Health & Safety’!

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 216, May/June 2012]



This page was added on 06/06/2012.

Seeing your pictures showing Patching & Son, I completed my carpentry apprenticeship with them in 1978 and worked for them for the next 9 years. Very fond memories. Excellent firm to work for! A small family firm. Where are they now? They would be one of the oldest in the country.

By Ron Russell
On 22/12/2013

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