North Laine History

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Upper Gardner Street

Upper Gardner Street dates from the late 1820s and a few houses remain. The Central National Infants School opened here in 1826 and later became the Central Boys Club. In the last years of the c19th barrow boys used to gather here and in Bond St. The police got tired of moving the boys along and so UGS was designated for their use on Sat mornings when you could get everything you wanted. It was first come first served to the best pitches in those early days until  Harry Cowley, so called King of the Barrow Boys, forced the Council to give stall holders fixed pitches. These pitches were in the hands of a watch committee which Harry chaired for the next 50 years. He ran the market almost as his personal fiefdom for if you didn’t please Harry you did not get your licence renewed. Harry and his wife Harriet themselves had a second hand furniture stall. Barrows could be rented around the corner at Diplocks. The large warehouse, 39 UGS, was used as a stables for Durtnall & Co who owned nos 1-4 which were used as stores.

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Upper Gardner Street in 1981 was a sad place indeed as the Council was following a policy in North Laine of allowing their properties to remain empty and condemning many other properties in the area as unfit for habitation. All of the original housing north of Trafalgar Street had been demolished and streets like Upper Gardner Street and Jubilee Street were earmarked for demolition. Fortunately, in 1977 the area was designated a Conservation Area and slowly the attitude of the Council changed. The houses that had been  demolished had new  houses  built on their sites so that today there are no houses with trees growing up through them.