North Laine History

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Gloucester Rd today might be considered the spine of the North Laine Conservation Area.  Visitors who come  in to the area  down Gloucester Rd from Queen’s Rd, will see a mid-Victorian townscape. Just 60 years ago you would have found 58 different trades in the street but even though most of these have gone, a walk down Gloucester Rd will reveal the North Laine that  developed  after the arrival of the railway in Brighton in 1841.

As you walk down Gloucester Rd  from Queen’s Rd, the Galeed Strict Baptist Chapel  is on your left, a plain classical building that opened on October 15, 1868. The Pond, opposite, dates from 1908 and replaced an earlier building. The Post Office building you see is an extension added in 1937 and it was on this site that the first electricity in Brighton was generated from 1882 in what was known as Hammond’s Yard.

Kemp St dates from the late 1840s and  1850s, when much of this part of North Laine was developed to meet the needs of the newly arrived railway and the locomotive and carriage works established from 1848. No 52 Kemp St was where the body of Violet Kaye was discovered, after her murder by Tony Mancini in July 1934.

As you proceed down Gloucester Rd, on your right is  Foundry St,  a major centre of production in the c19th whilst Queen’s Gardens shows signs of Victorian gentrification with its attractive residential housing.

Upper Gardner St dates from the late 1820s although  few original houses remain.  The Central National Infants School  originally dates from  1826 although it has been much changed.

Further down Gloucester Rd you will  pass on your right Kensington Gardens, which was developed from 1808 and  features original frontages at No 5 and Nos 7-11. Anita Roddick opened her first shop here in 1976.

Robert St further down on your right is home to North Laine’s largest commercial building, the former  Argus newspaper building – built in the 1890s and home to the Argus from c1915 to 1992.

The castellated building on the north side of Gloucester Rd was once The Eagle  Foundry and from 1869 home to the Sussex Artillery Volunteers. Notice the flagpole still in place on the front wall.

At the bottom of Gloucester Rd are two pubs that date from the 1850s with their original names, although The Basketmakers, first run by Mr Knight , a basketmaker, opened up in 1854 as The Brokers Arms.

The  Grain Store warehouse at No127 was formerly a ginger beer brewery run by Mr Dowling who owned the Gloucester  Brewery, which was next door to The Eagle. By 1876 Mr William  Wood of Hurstpierpoint,  had taken over the building and converted it  to a grain warehouse.

Gloucester Rd