Patchings Builders Yard

Portland Street was developed during the rapid expansion of the old town between 1790 and 1820. From the start, it was inhabited by Brighton’s trades people. Brightons oldest builders, Patching & Son occupied No 43 and later No 44, Portland Street from 1832 until 1992. Timber from this yard was used to make many of the wooden groynes protecting Brighton from coastal erosion. This yard also supplied stone and ready mixed horsehair mortar for local builders.

Today, the street still retains its industrial character, but during the early seventies it was nearly turned into a huge coach station. The car park that now blocks King Street to the south is the only remnant of this plan.

Recent history
Do you know anything about the history of this place since 1994 (when “My Brighton” was created)? Let us know.

Comments about this page

  • Blabers Foundry was closed down in 1981. My uncle used to work there and my family grew up on that street. The Aylings: Joan & Alfred. If anyone knew them please let me know.

    By James Green (07/04/2005)
  • I remember the family business of Cliffords, the car parts people, where reasonably priced spares, tools and other sundries for DIY car owners could be bought; as well as free advice given. It moved to New England Road where it remained until about 2 years ago, moving again due to redevelopment. Portland Street remains a wasteland at its north end off Church Street, where all the buildings that once housed Cliffords and the foundry have been pulled down since the 90s.

    By David Shelton (01/02/2006)
  • Re Blabers Foundry; My father in law Mr. Ron Blaber is living in Brighton and owned the Foundry. If you would wish to contact him please e-mail me.

    By Paul Bartup (27/01/2009)
  • Hi Paul, can I have your email please. I spoke to Ron a while ago but would like to contact him again but lost number and address… Thanks

    By James Green (24/02/2010)
  • James, my e-mail is “” Ron is 93 and is frail so I am not sure how sucessful contact will be – contact me in the first instance. Thanks

    By Paul Bartup (18/05/2010)
  • My uncle worked there casting moulds for over 10 years. His name was Peter Tompsett and Joe was my other uncle who filed down the castings.

    By Simon Tompsett (09/11/2012)
  • Message for Simon Tompsett. Contact me please regarding joe and pete. Email is “”. Thanks.

    By James Green (19/03/2014)
  • I lived in one of the cottages opposite the foundry when I was a kid back in 1960 – 1963.  My mates and I used to sneak into the foundry and watch the men pouring molten metal into moulds which we found fascinating. I was only 10 /11 at the time and did not know what the foundry was or made but it was fun trying not to get caught.  We had to move from the cottage around 1963 as they were pulling them down for re development.  I loved the street and spent many a happy time watching the bikers who came to Brighton on the bank holidays park their motor bikes all down the opposite side of the road and watching people like Gerry and the pacemakers and Adam Faith arrive in their big flashy cars ready to perform at the Essoldo which was on the corner of Portland Street and North Road. Good memories.

    By Ann Noble (28/04/2015)
  • The Cap of Liberty pub was in Portland Street in the 1840s, and was the base for Brighton Chartism. There are numerous references to it in the Chartist newspaper The Northern Star.

    By Nick Heath (09/09/2017)
  • Hi Paul. Was Blabers Scooter Centre at 9 Dyke Road, Brighton (on the site now occupied by Norwood House) connected to the Blabers who ran the foundry? Regards, Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (10/09/2017)
  • My dad Jim (Nobby) Clark worked for Patching and Sons (founded in the 1700s) for 50 years as a carpenter joiner, eventually becoming Foreman and site agent for the company. I believe in the early days along with other builders, they were also funeral directors. A story my dad related to us kids was that during the 2nd World War the governor Donald Patching called all the staff together and told them that they all had to carry out fire watch at the yard during the night due to the bombing by the German bombers to safeguard their jobs. My dad, being a very outspoken man and a staunch union man, asked the question: “if I am here looking after your property then who is looking after my house and family?” nd refused to cooperate. Needless to say this was not received lightly but he still kept his job. Patchings eventually moved to new premises in the nineties near Portland Road, Hove and unfortunately went out of business not long after.

    By Brian Clark (12/03/2019)
  • I have just repaired a vintage outside electric light on the wall of my Mum’s house, and the casting had BLABERS BRIGHTON on the inside! My parents purchased the house in 1981 and it was there then.

    By Les Dittrich (22/05/2022)
  • For Les Dittrich,
    That’s amazing, they were made to last a life time. My grandfather – Ronald Blaber owned the foundry. I have a number of lanterns and so pleased to hear that others are still around.

    By Amanda Vidler (08/08/2022)
  • Hi Amanda Vidler,

    This is great that you still have some lanterns. My uncle Joe Ayling worked there up until it closed. Such brilliant local history.

    By James Green (03/09/2022)
  • Greetings,
    My name is Paul and in the late ‘70s early ‘80s I worked at Clifford’s and remember the warren of passages through different buildings which were used as storage and display windows.

    By Paul Southgate (02/04/2024)

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