Butchers and the North Laine

Bakers was one of seven butchers along Sydney Street in the 1950s. The butchers held a meat auction every Saturday morning, and the street was crowded with people after a bargain cut.

Sydney Street is one of the North Laine shopping streets that form a continuous link between the retail areas of London Road and the Old Town. It was developed in the mid nineteeth century on the land of the North Hall located in the Third Furlong of the North Laine.

In the nineteeth century, the North Laine attracted the food industry because it was midway between the town and country. The area was full of market gardens, orchards, and food processing concerns, corn stores, bacon curers, bone yards and slaughterhouses.

Comments about this page

  • Christmas time brings it all back again! A dark Christmas Eve afternoon with electric lights outside the butchers’ shops, and my Dad looking for a bargain turkey! Sydney Street was certainly the best place to go!

    By Martin Nimmo (18/12/2006)
  • My mother ued to work at Bakers back in the late 40s, early 50s. Her name is Eileen Dowds, does anyone remember her please?

    By Bridget (28/03/2008)
  • My husband’s great grandfather owned RB Lane butchers in Sydney Street in the early 1900s (now Off Beat Cafe) also one in Bond Street (now Badgers). Does anyone remember them?

    By Philippa Lane (25/07/2008)
  • I recall the meat ‘auction’ on Saturday afternoons.
    The butcher, complete with boater hat would stand out on the pavement and sell by just grabbing joints through his open shop window and reducing the ticket price. He would often do a two for the price of one, or even place the joint in the shopping basket well before the customer had said yes to a purchase. Funny little wire skewers pinned the price tags to the joints, and cars would drive by clouding the meat with dust, but nobody minded. It was the place for a good deal and generally you got one.

    By Roy Grant (30/12/2008)
  • These ‘Meat Auctions’ were in fact illegal. I recall when I first started with Brighton Police being shown round 11 Beat by a well known ‘Brighton Bobby’, Bert Cousins. As we approached Sydney Street there was the sound of a very audible whistle being blown. Bert and I made our sedate progress along the street and every butcher was well behaved inside his shop. On reaching the end Bert had a trick whereby he darted through a back way and caught them all. They were suitably cautioned and we had a good laugh.

    By Raymond (Dickie) Bird (02/01/2009)
  • I and my sisters used to stand in the crowd outside Bakers on Saturdays and bid for the family meat. Whether it was because we were young children or because we learned to be good judges of cuts of meat we always went home with bargains which pleased our mum. She was a wonderful cook and I like to think that we ‘girls’ too, are not bad. Although these days it’s difficult to obtain all the different cuts of meat available those days. As for the bobby, Bert Cousins, previously mentioned, our garden backed on to his at Hollingdean where he and his family lived in a police house. Happy memories.

    By Linda Keet-Harris (nee Keats) (08/06/2009)
  • My wife is related to the Lane family. Uncle Dick and the Rev S B Lane. The butcher used to come to Denton, Newhaven ,to kill the pigs at my wife’s grandad’s farm. Do contact us for more information.

    By Peter Stoner (26/10/2010)
  • Hello Peter Stoner. How can I make contact with you, sorry I have taken far too long to respond. Definitely related.

    By Philippa Lane (07/02/2015)

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