Developed by the mid 18th century

Air Street: leading from Queen Square to Queen's Road
Photo by Tony Mould
Air Street: leading from Queen Square to Queen's Road
Photo by Tony Mould

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

b) AIR STREET: Leading from Queen Square to the southern end of Queen’s Road is Air Street which, as Boar’s Lane, was developed by the mid eighteenth century between North Street and Church Street. Queen’s Road was laid out along most of’ its length in 1845, but in 1849 the remaining length of Air Street was still noted as being intolerably filthy and lined with several slaughterhouses with dung accumulating in a large open cesspit in the centre; it was one of the worst slums in the town. The narrow street was improved in 1850, and now forms an attractive pedestrian shopping thoroughfare which was widened in 1985-7 when Queen Square House was erected.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • Are there any other photographs of Air Street?  I’m particularly looking for a hairdressers belonging to Henry Mowbray, then his son Herbert. I believe the youngest son Douglas ran it until the early 1970`s. It still is a hairdressers today but they tell me it`s earmarked for re-development, very sad.

    By stephaniegcj (29/11/2007)
  • Isn’t Air Street where one of Dixons electrical stores was located – or maybe it was the first? When I started saving a little from my early days employment, I bought a windup Elmo cine camera from the store which proved to be a virtual failure due to the spring pressure not being kept even throughout the operation of filming, resulting in films which had a gently changing speed to the pics! As quite a few will probably know, the films were known as Standard Eight and had to be taken out of the camera after reaching the end then turned over and replaced, the reason being that the filming took place on one side of the first half and was completed after being ‘shot’ through the second half. Much care had to be taken so that no light was allowed on the film when taken out and turned over for obvious reasons. Nowadays I film and edit with an up-to-date system and produce the result on discs. Some time ago I produced them on video tapes, and still can of course for those who ever wanted. What a leap forward! I’ve now got a complete library of films from the 1960s of my own family which I transferred from the cine films through my Apple Mac system to discs. How I wish I’d had the dough to make a record of the 1930s – 40s period.

    By Ron Spicer (06/07/2008)
  • I remember the little hairdressers that Doug Mowbray ran. He had a daughter, Susan who was close in age to my sister and I. I also remember a little sweet shop, full of jars of dolly mixtures and wine gums, where we loved to go and spend our pocket money! At the north end of the street there was a laneway that ran behind the shops; their back gates opened onto it. On the left side was the Ear, Nose and Throat hospital. Memories!

    By Patricia Silsby (29/01/2009)
  • Dear Patricia, it was nice to see that somone remembered the Mowbrays. Doug was my mother’s uncle. Do you have any other memories that I could share with my mum? I’m bringing her to Brighton in June to find her grandparents graves – Herbert and Ellen Mowbray, Doug’s parents. Perhaps we could meet for a coffee? My mum is 89! 

    By Stephanie (17/05/2009)
  • My Great Uncle Albert George Clayton had a photographic studio in Air Street in the early 1900s and was one of the beach photographers. Later in life he worked for the Sussex Daily News. There is more information on our website.

    By Tricia Leonard (16/10/2009)
  • Susan Mowbray is my step mother. I just read out the messages to her and she is amazed at the memories of her father and his families shop. Thank you for adding them into this site. Regards Lorraine.

    By Lorraine (29/05/2010)
  • Does anyone remember the market at Union Hall in Air Street? I used to go there with my mum, Cathy, in the 1970s, she used to sell bric-a-brac, it was a very busy market with lots of stalls. I can’t seem to find any information about it. I would be grateful if someone could help in my search. Thank you

    By Kim (10/07/2014)
  • There was a very small stamp shop in Air Street in the ’60s, unfortunately I can’t remember it’s name but, as a keen philatelist, visited often and spent my pocket money on brightly coloured stamps from San Marino; sadly totally worthless now!

    By Dave Crockatt (16/01/2015)
  • I remember the Union Hall in Air Street very well as my Uncle Gabriel Denney (aka Gabbus) was the Director of the Brighton Arts Theatre who used the Union Hall for their productions. My Aunt, Irene Denney was a leading player. In the 50s the group changed it’s name from the Arena players to Brighton Arts Group under the Directorship of Edwin Earl (aka Ted Earl) and Gabbus was the Stage Director until taking over from Ted Earl when Ted moved to Lincolnshire to be with his family. Union Hall was the home of Brighton Arts Theatre for many years and moved when Air Street was re-developed. Brighton Arts Theatre put on over 100 productions and won wide acclaim, not only in Brighton but in National competitions winning many awards. Gabbus became ill in the late 1980s and died in 1993 leaving a legacy as being a strong part of the Brighton local theatre scene. Irene Denney, who played a leading role in many of the productions carried on in the group (does anyone know who lead the group then? Did the remaining Brighton Arts Theatre  players join the Myra Steward players?) In May 2015, Irene is now 100 but has quite a good memory of the good times in Air Street.

    By Richard Inwood (31/05/2015)
  • Hello Richard, my parents Frank E. and Renee Read were founder members of the Brighton Arts Theatre along with Ted, Gabbus and Irene. I wasn’t into acting myself but I used to go along to the rehearsals because I was too young to be left home alone so you could say I grew up in the theatre! I am so pleased to hear Irene is still alive and well…100…what an achievement! Please give her my love, I am Kathleen Nichols nee Read. I have lots of photos and memories of the Brighton Arts Theatre, if you are interested my email address is

    By Kathy Nichols (01/06/2015)
  • I remember the little theatre in Air Street in the 1950s. My Uncle, George Cooper ran the Astra Players from here. I gave my first theatrical performance here in about 1957 when I was 14. It’s hard to believe when I walk through there now that there was once a theatre here.

    By Wendy Thompson (29/03/2016)
  • The stamp shop in Air Street was called Kay’s Stamp Shop. I used to go in there with my mother in the 1950s to spend a little pocket money.

    By Martin Hoare (31/07/2019)
  • I loved going in the Union Hall in Air Street in 1974-75. Every month I’d be over from Hailsham on a day off going round junk shops and used record stores. There was a seller at the Hall entrance on the steps with clothes hanging up and boxes with all sorts in and one with 70’s rock albums in. Every time I looked through that box there was an album at 50p or 75p I wanted. Inside the hall it was always busy, lots of used clothes mainly if I remember. Sad when a lot of those bric a brac / clothes / used vinyl places disappeared. There were quite a few in Trafalgar St, North Rd and all around that area in the 70s. Now that stuff is retro collectable and £££££.

    By Chris Johnson (07/02/2021)
  • I got married in the central free church which was on the corner of Air St, in 1976.

    By Helen (15/09/2021)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *