Meet Francis, the resident

Greenhouse in Trafalgar Terrace
Photo by Pam Blackman

Francis has lived in Trafalgar Terrace for 7 years. He is the street rep for the North Laine Runner, the community newsletter. He runs counselling sessions in the summer house in his garden.

Why I chose this area to live in
I settled on this area partly because it was so central. I could walk to the seafront and central Brighton quite easily. Of course, it has some disadvantages, because you can’t get stuff by car to the front door! I have a resident’s parking permit but that doesn’t guarantee you a place.  I was unaware of this twitten. I first heard of it when I came to look at this house. I decided instantly that this was the house I wanted. I offered the full asking price, which was relatively low. It didn’t have central heating; it didn’t have a normal lighting system; and there was also no bath. These were all quite ordinary things that one would have expected to have in 1997.

First row of houses built
Apparently this was the first row of houses that was built in the North Laine. Originally, the garden (now separated from the house by a public walkway) would have been a conventional front garden. When Kemp Street was built the access was blocked, so they built the twitten along between the gardens and the houses.  I rather regret having a high fence round my garden. The trouble is that there are people going around looking for somewhere to doss down for the night. You don’t particularly want to encourage people, particularly as I have a particularly big summerhouse.

The Flying School
The seagulls sometimes make a terrible racket at two in the morning and that did bother me when I first moved here. You get what I call the Flying School – later in the summer- when the young are ready to learn to fly. There’s lots of squawking and the mothers will push the young off the roof. But I love them; I think they’re wonderful birds.

A real feeling of community
There’s a feeling of community in this area. Not having traffic, we get to know each other much more easily. People sit or stand outside their front doors outside in the evening. If I go out walking around the North Laine, I will almost always meet someone I know. People will look out for each other’s houses while they’re away.

I’m pleased the North Laine was saved. It was very touch and go, wasn’t it? It was a slum area, which would have been demolished and developed if the road had come through. This might have just been a wasteland, so the planners showed great foresight. I don’t always agree with conservation because one needs to have new things as well, but I think this particular conservation was good. This is an area of great character.”

Comments about this page

  • We used to live next door when Mrs. Locke was alive. She was lovely and, we think, taught at Middle Street. We really enjoyed living here and loved her garden so much that we designed our garden along the same lines with the shed in the corner and a circular lawn. We decorated the fence with holey stones. We rented our house and it was damp and very expensive but, had it been ours, I’m sure we’d still live there now. I remember when there was a lot of controversy about which colour to paint houses in the conservation area – Mrs. Locke’s was bright yellow and glossy with a black border at the bottom – it looked absolutely wonderful – how dull to have them all white. We liked all our neighbours – there was a good mix of people – surprisingly, many of the houses belonged to the Council.

    By Michael and Donna (13/08/2004)
  • I was absolutely delighted to find these pages on the Internet. I have nothing but happy memories of living and being raised in the house and garden in question. It seems extraordinary to think that the entire area was scheduled for slum clearance as late as 1971. The barmy ‘Wilson Street Plan’ being the last of many half-cocked ideas that were around at that time. Michael and Donna are, with respect, not correct about the houses being owned by the Council. Most were freehold and subject to the ‘planning blight’ of the period. I remember the Council surveyor calling to discuss the estimate of the amount the Council were going to pay to acquire the property. When my mother pleaded with him for the preservation of the house and the area, he said (in a strong Highland accent) ‘my dear its like putting lipstick on your grandmother!’. The house is still the same yellow and black colour combination that it has been since we moved there in 1954. The two-tone was a feature of the area right through to the 1970s but has been lost recently to the false belief that the area is Regency in its background. It isn’t, these are Victorian artisan dwellings. The apple tree in the centre bed died three years ago and the one by the greenhouse blew over in the summer storm this year but was jacked up, staked and saved! The greenhouse has been restored by the brilliant Brighton carpenter and conservator Paul Baker. My mother was a teacher at Coldean and Middle Street, where she was the last Head of the old school. And finally as a teacher at St Pauls. She loved the house, the garden, the area and Brighton. Her spirit lives on in the garden and she would be thrilled that it is remembered in this way.

    By John Locke (01/09/2004)
  • The d`Ascoli family lived in Mrs. Locke’s house from 1999 to 2001; we loved the community spirit and our magical garden. We once had a visit from an old gentleman whose aunt and uncle had lived in the house in the 20s. He told us of his uncle who had a wonderful black moustache and ran an illicit betting shop from the front room, and his cousin ran a shoe repair business from a shed in the garden. The old gentleman used to cycle there from Horsham for his holidays and spend the days at Black Rock. He drank tea with us and went home with a knapsack full of apples from the garden.

    By Helen d`Ascoli (01/06/2005)
  • I’m Kay Locke’s grandaughter and am now resident at 5 Trafalgar Terrace. I’m so happy here and the sculpture my grandad did of Kay is still nestled in the garden. My dad grew up here and I spent a lot of my childhood here, and now I hope my children will also. The garden is heaven and I’m in the process of restoring it after a few years of neglect before I moved in. I don’t know much about gardening but am enjoying learning as I go. So it will be back to its former glory soon I hope.

    By Vanessa Austin Locke (20/07/2007)
  • This takes me back! Mrs. Locke was my third year teacher at Coldean Primary School 1963/4. John Locke was a year above me. I can remember playing ‘Quince’ in a play from a Midsummer Night’s Dream which Mrs. Locke produced. 1964 was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. This was one of the happiest periods of my school life.

    By Richard J. Szypulski (11/11/2011)
  • Richard (just in case you ever come back to the site) I remember the production! My mother wrote, and had published, a number of school plays and regularly had royalties for them both here and from America! But of all her productions she always spoke fondly of that production of the Dream. It was hilarious! I agree with you about those Coldean days – such a happy school and such happy and innocent days. The place was run like a village school. Wonderful!

    By John Locke (10/07/2012)
  • I was in the school play for two consecutive years! Mrs. Locke’s Pyramus and Thisbe and in the fourth year Miss Rose’s Golden Goose. I placed an old photograph of the latter on Friendsreunited ‘Coldean school’. An anonymous benefactor always sent the cast of the school plays a box of ice lollies. Actually, I remember you John Locke – quite well. You shared two of my passions: Trains and cricket! I hope you are well!

    By Richard J. Szypulski (12/07/2012)
  • I was thrilled to find this page. Mrs Locke and her family moved in next door to my grandad in Trafalgar Terrace when John was just toddling. How I loved visiting my grandad and can remember so clearly running along that terrace to see him. His garden did not contain flowers or vegetables but tobacco plants which he used to dry by hanging from the scullery ceiling before smoking in his pipe In the corner of his garden he had a chicken house with 3 or 4 chickens. In those days there were no fences on top of the walls and all the gardens were individual. Mrs Locke’s garden always reminded me of The Secret Garden storybook. I can remember a large tree and bluebells – a carpet of bluebells. I lived in Coldean and went to Coldean School from when it first opened. My grandad died in 1958 and I moved from Brighton in 1969. I have lots of photos of my family taken in Trafalgar Terrace – my mum and dad sitting on the wall outside grandad’s house during the war or perhaps when my dad was home on leave, myself and my brother standing each side of a portrait of Queen Elizabeth 11 on her Coronation taken in a neighbours garden, as a toddler walking along the terrace and as a toddler sitting in the gutter waving an ice cream cornet. I heartily reiterate John Lockes sentiments that they were happy and innocent days. I do have one confession to make and that is before Mrs Locke moved in my grandad dug up some bluebell bulbs from what was to become her garden and I took them home to Coldean where they flourished in the border outside our back door at No 46 Wolseley Road. If my photos would be of interest I can be contacted on Facebook – Linda Buckley Lowestoft.

    By Linda Buckley nee Bassett (22/02/2013)
  • Further comment to the above: I forgot to mention that Eddie still lives in the street with his sister Margaret. Further, I wonder if I am remembered as I used to spend a lot of time around there? I would be interested to see any pictures you have of the Terrace. I am now in Oz on the east coast in the middle of all the floods and storms. My email is

    By John Wall (24/02/2013)
  • John, did you work in Bookers the news agent you lived above? Because if you did then yes, I do remember you. The Bookers moved to Newhaven, or Denton as I recall. Penny “Arrow” toffee bars were a great favourite or, very occasionally, Johnny Parsons (14 Trafalgar Terrace) and I would be allowed a “Zoom” Ice Lolly, all of sixpence (two and a half pence!).

    By John Austin Locke (13/09/2013)
  • Is that the John Parsons who went to Patcham Fawcett school?

    By Richard J. Szypulski (14/09/2013)
  • How wonderful as well to see the comment from Linda Buckley nee Bassett (efforts on progress to contact via Facebook). I remember Mr. Bassett’s chickens very well. He had a poorly one that lived in a box in the kitchen and never produced an egg, I was allowed to visit. Except that for my third or fourth birthday it did produce an egg and Mr. Bassett gave it to me for my Birthday Breakfast. I swear that egg was the best one I have had in my life! The Terrace gardens were working areas in many cases then. Apart from Mr Bassett’s chickens, Mr Parsons (No. 14) carried out a car repair business in his garden while Mr. Bryant (No.11) did masterful carpentry I seem to remember. No 5 garden reflected the pre-1820 history of the area as a market garden. I was forever finding pieces of willow pattern plates in the soil that may well have been used by the market gardeners as drainage in pots.

    By John Austin Locke (14/09/2013)
  • Response to Richard re Johnny Parsons and Patcham Fawcett: We played together just about every day from age three to about ten when he moved away to a different part of Brighton, so Patcham Fawcett school could well have been his place. We were in touch again, briefly, in the eighties and even met again once but then lost touch. I wish I had photographs of his “Garden” at that time, they would make a wonderful record and reference of just how much business and trade was carried out from people’s homes.

    By John Austin Locke (15/09/2013)
  • Just a quick update on the Greenhouse, still a feature on the Brighton tours circuit.  I have spent some time, this summer working on the Greenhouse and further remedial and restoration work has been carried out.  It is remarkable that it has survived since the 1880s.  The two ends of the greenhouse, much of the glass and the four king posts at the corners remain original.  Hopefully, I can keep it standing – at least as long as I am standing, that is.

    By John Austin Locke (05/09/2014)
  • Wasn’t a teacher like Mrs Locke, she was amazing and her husband always took the school photos at Middle Street school. Not forgetting her teddy Smokey, she always had in the class.

    By Sharon Dixon (15/02/2015)
  • Just a further quick response to Sharon Dixon. Yes, Sharon, my mother was a teacher – first at Coldean, then at Middle Street and finally at St. Paul’s. She loved teaching. My father did indeed make a 16 mm movie of Middle Street in about 1969. I still have it in the loft should anyone involved in the school, grandparents or school governors, be interested. My mother truly loved teaching and kept in touch with many pupils, at Christmas and throughout her life. Now Smokey the Teddy Bear always told my mother when children were misbehaving so it was Smokey that kept discipline in the classroom! Smokey is alive and well and living in quiet retirement in Saltdean, while my mother, sadly, passed away in 1998 after a short illness.

    By John Austin Locke (24/05/2015)
  • Hi John! Do you remember me?  I have lived in Bournemouth for many years.  I have very fond memories of your mother and yourself! I am so sorry that we lost touch and your mother has passed away.  I could not sleep so I was looking up old friends on the net.  My son James  is now 35! He is settled with a lovely partner Zoe, in Ringwood, but works in Bournemouth. My husband, Peter is not in good health at present. 

    By Sheila Ham, nee Tennent (31/05/2015)
  • Sheila, of course I remember you! I remember being in your class at Coldean as well. I remember playing a seal and trying to balance a ball on my nose in one of your lessons about a circus. I remember a November 5th party at 5 Trafalgar Terrace and a photograph you took of me with a sparkler. And a birthday present you gave me “The Book of Verse for Children” which survived me and then my own children, Vanessa, Toby and, finally Aaron. The same book is in front of me right now! Amazed to hear James is now 35, I remember news of his birth which doesn’t seem 35 years ago!  Very sorry to hear about Peter and wish him better health. Email or on Facebook should you fancy a further exchange! Much love for now!

    By John Austin Locke (17/06/2015)
  • Further major restoration work to the greenhouse took place in the summer of 2016 by the highly skilled Brighton carpenter and joiner Damon Taylor. Damon restored the side facing the wall that had been pended in by the fence. Retaining much of the Georgian glass and the original internal struts and fittings, Damon also managed to retain some of the original frames making one back frame practical again. 

    By John Austin Locke (19/08/2016)
  • Dear Mr Locke, should you ever edit your Middle Street or St Paul’s school DVDs I would be willing to buy a copy, thank you.

    By Sharon Dixon (22/04/2017)
  • Sharon Dixon, I don’t know if you will get this message by some means but I have found the film. It is available and you are welcome to have it if you wish to convert it. If you get this message please call me on 01273 309184 and we can arrange a hand over. The film, taken by my Father, was a celebration of the Education Act. I think id was filmed in the 69/70/71 era. But please be in touch. Kindest regards

    By John Austin Locke (18/10/2019)

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