Development of North Street since the 14th century
North Street has always been one of the town’s main commercial thoroughfares, and is lined with many shops, banks and offices. It represents the northern limit of the medieval town, and was probably developed in the fourteenth century by the landsmen whose barns stood on the northern side of the street with fields and crofts stretching northwards to Church Street.
The principal commercial street of the town
With most coaches from London entering the town via Dyke Road as Brighton first grew as a resort, North Street developed rapidly in the eighteenth century, and by 1770 there were eighty-eight buildings in the street. From about 1780 shops also began to spread up North Street from Castle Square, and it gradually became the principal commercial street of the town. A number of squalid courtyards were built off North Street in the early nineteenth century, and by the 1840s names such as Durham, Petty France and Air Street were counted amongst the worst slums in the town; most were cleared for the construction of Queen’s Road in 1845. Until the 1950s North Street extended up what is now Dyke Road as far as Upper North Street.
Haphazard development plans
Development of North Street itself was haphazard and the buildings projected into the narrow roadway somewhat, but it was widened in 1874-9 below Windsor Street, again in 1927-36, and finally in the early 1960s. Only a few buildings therefore survive from before the mid nineteenth century, mainly to the west of Ship Street and to the west of New Road. Large-scale redevelopment of the northern side has resulted in many large bank and office buildings, the most impressive of which is the pink-granite Leeds Permanent on the corner of New Road.