Introduction - North Laine History

North Laine History
Go to content
An introduction to the history of North Laine

About Me
I am Peter Crowhurst. I have been a resident of North Laine since 1987 and in that time I have been an active participant of the residents’ association, the North Laine Community Association (NLCA). I was Chair of the NLCA for nine years between 2006 and 2015 during which I headed teams which developed the first NLCA website, The North Laine Book, the leaflet Discover North Laine on Foot and a series of podcasts on the area. I was a teacher of history for thirty years and was Head of History of a large West Sussex secondary school for twenty years. Since retirement from teaching in 2008 I have developed a website on the British Empire ( and give talks on both North Laine and aspects of the British empire as well as lead guided walks around North Laine.

The original NLCA website
The current NLCA website does not have the scope to display all the historical pages we had on the original website so I have undertaken to put those pages on a new site that I have developed and which is linked to the current NLCA website (

All  walks are cancelled until further notice
For details of the Talks I give please click here
North Laine today
North Laine today is one of the success stories of modern Brighton. It has become an area promoted by the town for its independent shops and its cafe culture. The area has about 300 independent shops although not all of them are indeed what we might term independent. Many are parts of small chains owned by London companies. The shops have a charm and a character different from the uniform facades on the High Street associated with national chains. Much of this charm derives from the historical character and architecture of the shops which area small scale due to the restrictions imposed by the Conservation Area status. Without the protection afforded by Conservation Area status and Article Four, many of these small shops would have been acquired by national chains, demolished and given a uniform corporate look. One look at Jubilee Street will give an idea as to how North Laine would have looked without planning protection.
A Mix of Uses
As it is North Laine is a mix of residential, commercial and retail use although the success of the area is threatening the traditional mix of uses which has been a historic feature of the area. Boutiques and cafes abound whilst the area in the evening has become a destination area for drinkers. The area is no longer a peaceful haven in the evenings and the impact of the latenight economy is driving away some residents.
The Town’s Industrial, Industrial and Commercial Centre
Ruff's print of North Laine c1850 (see above) shows the area as a mix of residential, industrial and commercial buildings. It had become the town's industrial area and would remain so until industry and residential accommodation began to move out of the centre to new larger premises on the edges of the town from the 1920s. Seen in Ruff's image are St Peter's church, Brighton Station, Evershed's soapworks to the south of the station, Butts & Sons timber yards in Trafalgar Lane and the Regent  iron and brass foundry in Foundry St. Not visible are the numerous other commercial and industrial premises which included many slaughter houses, malthouses, breweries, stables, ginger beer and mineral factories, bone mills etc. Many of the premises used for industrial and commercial purposes are still in existence today in the heyday of the area are still there to be seen and is partly why the area became a Conservation Area in 1977.
General Histories of North Laine
Snapshot of 1957
You can contact me using the form opposite

Back to content