A potted history and photo gallery

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.

Stretching from Pavilion Parade to Park Street , Edward Street was once very narrow, only twenty-five-feet wide in places, and lined both sides with shops; indeed, Edward Street and St James’s Street were the two principal shopping streets of the eastern town. Serving the area of poor housing to the north, it was a tough district where the police were said to patrol in pairs only. Several of the roads leading northwards were badly affected by war-time bombing. However, the face of Edward Street was completely altered by large-scale clearances in the 1950s together with road widening in 1961-4, resulting in a completely rebuilt northern side with only a few old houses remaining on the southern side around Chapel Street, Devonshire Place and below George Street . The road was widened beyond Upper Rock Gardens to Park Street (and, as Eastern Road , to Freshfield Road) in 1971; the dual carriageway was once intended to stretch all the way to Black Rock .

Edward Street is now dominated by Amex House , a nine-storey, 300,000 square foot office block in a tiered design by the Gollins Melvin Ward Partnership which has been nicknamed ‘the wedding cake’. Costing a reported £10 million, the tiers are highlighted in white reinforced plastic while the windows have a blue tint to create a pleasing impression. Built over part of Mighell Street, it was officially opened on 15 September 1977 as the European operations centre of the American Express Corporation, Brighton’s largest private-sector employer, and houses some 1,800 workers. The adjacent Windsor House of the Department of Social Security was opened in 1973.

The town’s new law courts were opened on 3 November 1967 by Lord Gardiner, the Lord Chancellor. Designed by Percy Billington, the building cost £665,000 and was remodelled in 1986-9 to include three crown courts and eight magistrate courts, plus juvenile and coroner’s courts. On 23 October 1985 a new high court and county court building was opened adjacently in William Street. {123} (See also “Courts”.)

No.1 Edward Street is an office block of 1990 with a pleasant, bay-windowed design.
Clearances of some of the slum housing to the north of Edward Street were made in the 1890s when Blaker Street and White Street were erected on the site of Chesterfield Street, Cumberland Place, Derby Place and Thomas Street; the new roads contain good red-brick housing designed by borough surveyor Francis May, but the houses were erected privately {115,306}.

The nearby Brighton National Spiritualist Church was built in 1964-5 in an unusual figure-of-eight design by Overton and Partners, replacing a church in Mighell Street {83,123}. To the east is the Brighton Youth Centre, formerly the Brighton Boys’ Club which was founded in John Street in 1917. It later moved to 14-16 Manchester Street, but on 23 March 1927 a new building was opened by the Prince of Wales in the remodelled Tierney cinema in Edward Street. On 29 October 1930, the Duke of York opened a Boys’ Club Week there, and it was visited in 1938 by the Duke of Gloucester, president of the National Association of Boys’ Clubs. The present building was opened in a new position on 28 October 1957 to allow for road widening. The Tierney Royal Picture Theatre itself opened in 1911 on the site of the Tierney Arms, and was known briefly as the Picturedrome in 1916, the Majestic in 1919 and the Devonshire in 1920 before closing in 1922 {19,48a,68,68a,76.115,275a}.

On the opposite side of Edward Street, at the corner of Dorset Place, is the former Little Globe public house. Lower down stands the Thurlow Arms, an early-nineteenth-century listed building with two first-floor bows and mathematical tiles. Steine Gardens retains a few late-eighteenth-century cottages, while at the very foot of the street may be seen the premises of the Brighton Charity Organisation Society, formed in 1872 to ‘improve the condition of the poor, to administer relief, and to suppress begging’; the name may still be made out on the plain wall on the southern side of the street near the traffic lights. {83}

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

  • My father was the licencee of the Little Globe from 1940 to 1945 and, on a page I have added to this web site, there is a picture of me, my sister and my father standing on the corner of Cavendish Street with the pub on our left.

    This entry talks about the Little Globe being on the corner of Dorset Place – I only know of a Dorset Gardens and a Dorset Street, have they renamed Cavendish Street, for that was definitely the name of the street that the pub stands on the corner of? There was an ironmongers, Virgos, on the opposite corner and just down the road on the north side was the Great Globe owned by the Edlins Brewery. Tamplins supplied the Little Globe.

    By Kenneth Ross (25/03/2007)
  • My father Albert Bullock was the warden of the Brighton Boys Club in Edward St from around 1958/99 to the 1970s. I was 10 years of age when we moved to Brighton. My father was involved in the design of the new building which had a roller skating rink and 5 a side football pitch on the roof. At the time it was very much state of the art as far as youth work was concerned – superb facilities.

    By Albert Bullock (09/07/2007)
  • Does anyone know if there used to be a hotel or pub called ‘The Shamrock’ on Edward Street in 1875? It is the address given on my gr gr grandfather’s marriage certificate but I can find no mention of it here or on any other site. Many thanks – any info gratefully received.

    By Emma Nelson (03/11/2009)
  • Yes Emma, there was a pub called the ‘The Shamrock’. It was situated at no 101 Edward St, my father was the licensee in 1933, he left the pub in 1934 to take up the licence of the Northumberland Arms in St Georges Road, Kemp Town. On the 9th of April, 1941 the ‘Shamrock’ was destroyed during a air raid [see David Rowlands book The Brighton blitz]. It doesn’t mention the pub by name. I have been trying to find out if there is a picture of it. I would welcome  any information about it.

    By Jim Dorrington (03/12/2009)
  • My grandfather was president of the boys club for a lot of years, when boxing played a big part in the club. I too boxed for the club in the early seventies. I would like to do a history of the boys club soon, so any information would be gratefully received.

    By Colin Brownjohn (12/08/2010)
  • I forgot to say that my grandfathers name was Jack Simms. I know that he grew up in the area too.

    By Colin Brownjohn (19/08/2010)
  • My husband, John Church, lived at 22, Tidy Street next door to the Rising Sun public house. He was coached as a boxer from the early fifities until he left school at the Brighton Central Boys Club. He often commented that it kept him out of trouble!

    By Suzette Church (26/02/2011)
  • I am interested if anyone has more information about the history of the pub at 101 Edward Street. My 3x great grandfather is listed as Beer House Keeper at that address in the 1861 census. It looks like the pub was called Harrison Arms. His name was Daniel Harrington, he lived there with his wife and six children.

    By Diane Bleasdale (02/09/2011)
  • Hi Diane, The pub was called the Kerrison Arms and Daniel Harrington took over from George Prescott, around 1857. It is likely that Prescott moved from being a beer seller at an address in Montague Street and founded the pub a year or so prior to Daniel taking over. He remained at the pub for around 10 years. Regards, Andy

    By Andy Grant (03/09/2011)
  • Hello Diane, I think we are related but separated by a generation. Daniel Harrington was my great-great grandfather. I am very keen to know his wife Ellen’s maiden name. One of their sons was my great grandfather Jeremiah. He married Susan King and one of their children was my grandma Elizabeth. She married James Eccles and they had my mother Helen, who married my father Harry Whittaker. I am happy for you to contact me by phone because I have been looking for information for a long time – if families are humble, as most families are, and surnames are fairly common, the difficulties are compounded. BTW, my understanding was that the beer house was called the Kerrin, not the Kerrison, Arms. Any ideas who’s right? Regards, Anne Marie 07779 985199.

    By Anne Marie Hawkins (04/02/2012)
  • Hello, I am trying to find out the history of 137, Edward Street – one of the old houses still standing. I think it may have been a shop at one time (now a house). If anyone has any info, I’d be very grateful.

    By Jennie Brown (19/04/2012)
  • I am tracing my family tree and my great, great,great Grandad’s first lodgings were in Derby Place Brighton. Do you have any idea where this is? I was born and bred in Brighton but have no idea where this is.

    By Mark Bonnington (05/06/2012)
  • Hi Mark, Derby Place ran off Edward Street at around number 55, up to Carlton Hill. It was demolished around 1890 and replaced by Blaker Street. Regards

    By Andy Grant (07/06/2012)
  • How seeing American Express photo made me think more of my little dad George Newington, who was one of the men who helped build it. Not only that, he used to go to Brighton Boys club and do boxing. It would be lovely if anyone knew my dad. To me my little dad will also be with me and my mum and family. He died September 1999 looking forward to hearing from you.

    By Kim Ayres was Newinghton (15/07/2012)
  • Hi Kim, sorry to hear bad news of your dad. I lived at 33 Fletching Road. Good days. I still live in Whitehawk. Julie Mountford.

    By julie annets was mountford (18/07/2012)
  • Hi Juliet, thanks for your lovely message. They were really good days living in Whitehawk. I now live in Hove and have done since I got married 30 years ago. I still have family living in different parts of Brighton. I never forget living in Whitehawk-like living with a big family. Many happy times 

    By Mrs Kim Ayres (02/08/2012)
  • Does anyone remember the name of the small pub on Edward Street that sold proper scrumpy at one shilling and four pence a pint in the late 60s? It was on the right hand side as you walk up from the Old Steine.

    By Derek Mackey (02/09/2015)
  • I’d like to find out the history of my house I rent as think we’ve got a ghost.

    By Maya Wardle (14/05/2016)
  • Maya, you can find out the history of your house (but probably not about the ghost) by visiting ‘The Keep’ archive at Falmer which is open 09.30-1700 Tues-Sat. They have all the street directories, rate books and background volumes that you need. It is all free and unless you need to look at older primary documents then you do not even need an ID. Pencils only at the archive.

    By Geoffrey Mead (15/05/2016)
  • The pub that sold scrumpy was the Alliance Tavern at 140 Edward Street. The building is still there and can be seen on street view. 

    By Ian Wordsworth (02/08/2016)
  • This was where I worked as a CO and EO from 1975 – 1979, ground floor sickness benefits. I used to walk to work from Cobden Road where I was living with my parents! Happy carefree days looking back, had no idea where I was going in life but enjoying being young, sports and my friendships, those were the days no commitments or worries!

    By Peter Paolella (29/11/2017)
  • I boxed for the boys’ club in the 1960s, coached by Bert, a great man. Also there was Malcolm Cordier, Lee Town, Barry Price and Henry Mears. All fit as a butcher’s dog!


    By Cliff marchant (09/10/2018)
  • I worked on this building in 1975-1976 when it was being built. Sad to see it only lasted 42 years.

    By Rodney Chamberlain (10/10/2018)
  • I have a painting of Edward Street by Grace Collcutt. It appears to show 180 Edward Street as J S Norris Fruit and Potato Merchants.

    By Steve (22/11/2020)

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