Original site for brick-making manufacturers for Brighton

Norfolk Square, November 2002
Photo taken by Bill Maskell

Mary Allan, ceramicist asks on Monday, October 29, 2001:

“Please include Norfolk Square in the website. The area of Norfolk Square used to be called the ‘Blacklands’, as it was the original site for the brick-making manufacturers for Brighton. Old maps indicate where most of the work was contained, from the seafront at the location of Embassy Court, Golden Lane and up to the Square itself. There were many families living locally who were involved in the trade until it moved eastwards to Adelaide Crescent, as Brighton spread its original boundaries. I’m trying to ascertain the site of the original kilns to help me with a sculptural proposition and would appreciate any help and information.”

Geoffrey Mead, local historian replies:

“Dear Mary, I wrote the little booklet on the Blacklands that you may be referring to. The site of the kilns is not known and the information you have is about all there is! Basically, the site was between the present Western Road and the beach, and west from Bedford Square. There were kilns reported at a later date ( the early ones are from 1720s, or possibly earlier, until the 1820s) when St. John’s Road west of Palmeira Square was a brick-making area in the 1830s -1840s. I have seen one undated painting that shows kilns where Brunswick Square is now. This possibly dates from the late 18th century.

Brighton did not spread its boundaries. The housing spread across the parish boundary into Hove when Brunswick Town was created. Brighton only gained Hove in the late 1990s.”

Comments about this page

  • This is a good place to suggest an oral/photographic history of Norfolk Square and environs, to focus a residents’ association on. Any ideas? Please contact me.

    By Roy Pennington (roy.pennington@brighton-hove.gov.uk) (03/10/2003)
  • I am interested in finding out about the history of Norfolk Terrace. Do you have any information on this street? More specifically, if any of the houses were linked in anyway to, what used to be, the hospital on the corner of Windelsham Road?

    By Sally Singer (13/07/2004)
  • Does anyone know any information regarding the history of Norfolk Terrace?

    By Chloe Howley (03/03/2005)
  • I found this in the rambling but strangely compelling online biography of Victor Coughtrey (http://www.100megsfree2.com/coughtrey/index%20to%20chapters.htm). It’s chapter 72 and he’s only got to 1970. Yikes! Good description though. “The terraces of Georgian houses on either side were much too tall for the narrow street between, resulting in a menacingly gloomy canyon, full of echoes but little sunlight. The sensation of foreboding in that place was greatly exacerbated by the run-down state of the houses, and nature of the residents. Like most of Georgian Brighton and Hove, the once imposing houses had each been split into many bedsits. This street above all had attracted large numbers of junkies and semi-dossers. When someone rented a bedsit, they would allow anyone else to ‘crash’ there for the asking (or even without asking). It was often impossible to find out who was the official tenant. The absentee landlords simply collected the rents from Social Security and let the properties go to hell. Jackie let me have a large spare room to myself, but beings resembling crazed monkeys would scamper up and down the fire escape outside my window all night, with much weird hooting and screeching. There were used syringes all over the place in the jungle of a garden and a lot of bad smells. I felt obliged to take a large kitchen knife to bed with me every night. I suppose someone will tell me that Norfolk Terrace is these days inhabited by Americans who have paid a million or two per house?”

    By Seb Brennan (08/04/2005)
  • Norfolk Terrace is now a smart and sought after street in Brighton, but I think you can feel it has seen many things! A sense that life has been lived in the street. It has a certain charecter. Any one else have any stories about their life in the street? I was born there in 1975. Growing up in the street was an intense and fun experience.

    By Chleo Howley (14/04/2005)
  • I have to agree with Chloe – I was born in Norfolk Terrace in 1971, in fact just downstairs from Chloe and Sally! The terrace does have an intense feel to it – but what a great place to have been born and lived in. I love the article above – it brought back emotive images of growing up. And yes, today a much sought after Norfolk Terrace stands tall and proud looking over the edge of Brighton.

    By Annie Hadfield (07/05/2005)
  • I am starting to wonder if my great grandfather, Charles Blaker lived at 49 Norfolk Square. He is listed there in the 1905, 1911 & 1915 Kellys directories but I thought it was one of his shops. Roll on the 1911 census.

    By Josie Campbell (05/10/2006)
  • I live in the original older Georgian town houses that remain on the east side of Norfolk Square. Can someone tell me when they were built? I notice that they are identical to Powys Square so assume a similar time.

    By Ray (26/08/2010)
  • Interesting reading about the street I once lived in. I lived there around 1995/1996 in the flat just below Chloe and Sally. I haven’t had the privilege of living in such grand surroundings since. The living room was like a huge art gallery, amazing windows and a very grand feeling. The hallway and staircase of the house always scared me a little, lots of echoes and the iron spiral staircases that ran up the back of the building added (in my imagination) a continental city feeling. I certainly felt a very strong sense of character in the street, as soon as I walked into it – dark, yes, grand, yes and definately seen some goings on – prior to me being there, during and probably after. Interesting to read the landlords let all and sundry there, I had an amazing find when I lived there, an “old-fashioned” arrangement with the landlord of many years, the rent was very very reasonable and he left us to take care of the fire alarms in return. I never once saw him at the property, but I did have to travel to his house in the country to be vetted before he rented me the flat.

    By Sally Goodwin (21/03/2011)
  • The residents as mentioned in the Vic Coughtrey excerpt, not the “visitors”, were rehoused at Moulscoomb when the new regulations came in re fire escapes. I think he invented the bit about shady visitors on fire escapes because the fire escapes didn’t exist then. Landlords had to have them fitted if they wanted tenants, around 1970. Hence re-housing.

    By Elaine Thompson (05/04/2011)

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