A query about its history

From Andrew McCarthy, e-mail query to My Brighton and Hove website, 25 May 2001

“At long last I’ve decided to change from a regular visitor to Brighton and to become a resident.

At the moment I’m in the process of buying 41 Upper North Street and am told by the current owners that it was originally a Regency House but has had a Victorian makeover. The street itself intrigues me and I wondered at its history.

The only thing I can work out from websites is that a census report shows a carpenter lived there in the early 1800’s. Is there a connection between the street’s (and No.41’s carpenter) past and the number of antique shops there? There are a number of residential properties with old shopfronts.

Was Upper North Street a shopping street or were there more furniture/antique shops?”

Response – 41 Upper North Street and the history of the shops on Upper North Street
From Jan Hill, My Brighton and Hove volunteer, 28 June 2001

“I was in the Local Studies Library today and had a look in the directories for 41 Upper North Street. This is what I found….

Street numbering changed sometime between 1871 and 1876. The house which is now 41 was previously 36. From 1862 (first listing of that property which I could find) until around 1885 the resident was John Harvey (no trade listed). From around 1885 to the start of the 1900s, resident was P Kensett (no trade listed). From around 1910 until 1974 and maybe later, occupant was A.E. Guile (later Miss Guile) and the building is listed as apartments.

The builder that Andrew McCarthy found at number 41 in the 1800s was presumably W South but that building became 46 in the present numbering. Number 41 had a pub two doors in one direction “The Fox Tavern” at number 39 and “The Blacksmiths Arms” at 44.

Many trades in the immediate area of number 41 over the years, including cheesemonger, boot maker, lace-joiner, wardrobe buyer, fishmonger and many lodging houses. No particular predominance of furniture shops or antique shops. “

Comments about this page

  • I remember Susan Gayle well. I had not remembered the Dowsetts but now do – at least as a name. Whatever happened to Susan Gayle? I think at one time she may have become a hairdresser as a young adult.

    By Edward Castle-Herbert (05/08/2006)
  • Does anyone know ‘anything’ about the short road called Spring Road running between Upper North Street and Western Road? It is mainly residential with a pub and a few barbers, but I wonder if it was shop-filled like many other secondary streets in towns. A friend has moved into a house on the street and it has the most amazing bowed ceilings and staircase leaning to one side. The age of the properties would be interesting.

    By Jonathan Lovelace (22/11/2006)
  • Does anyone have any information about a family who lived in Upper North Street during the 50s and perhaps early 60s called Marshand (I am however not at all sure of the spelling of their name)?

    By Edward (25/05/2007)
  • Does anyone have any recollections of the late Marion Craske who owned an antique shop in the street for many years?

    By Edward Castle-Herbert (25/05/2007)
  • I lived at 81 Upper NNorth Street since my birth till I was about 15. I remember Miss Guile, I lived over the road from her and your contributer Edward Castle.

    By Patrick Kite (02/07/2007)
  • I used to live on the corner of Montpelier Place and Bourgh Street (Rawlinson End) and the guy that lived in the basement, Gordon, was Brighton through and through. He ran an upholstery business in North Street where the big surf shop now is. Before that it was a Bingo Hall. Above Gordon’s shop there was an illegal bare fist fight den around the 1950’s.
    Gordon had the original house documents on parchment at Rawlinson End and it showed that it was a well house in the 1800’s that supplied the area. Unfortunately, I could never back this up with anything I found at the museum. Does anyone have any information on this?

    By Dave Hands (18/12/2007)
  • We own the GFF at 6 Montpelier Place, next door to the Montpelier Inn which we understand used to be a shop. Does anyone have any information about this property?

    By Steve Moses (08/03/2008)
  • I am Brighton born and remember the early years of my life (1948 to 1953) in 39 Upper North Street. Not the best place in the world being an old pub and full of nooks and cellars. My uncle Reg Phillips had a Marley Tiles shop below the residential accomodation and my uncle Ron Phillips had a clothing manufacturing business in Marlborough Street.

    By Brian Phillips (24/06/2009)
  • My childhood friend, Judy Donaghue, used to live in Upper North Street – she attended Middle Street Junior School with me in 1950 /1951. Anyone remember the Donaghues?

    By Elizabeth (Bertha) Byrne (25/04/2010)
  • I lived at 51 Upper North St – probably 1951 – 1953. Went to St Mary Magdalen’s – scouts, organ, & had friends in the area.

    By Tony de Mazia (14/12/2010)
  • My daughter Nadheera and her husband Chandran live in 50 Upper North Street along with my grandchildren. They have called it the Conner Shop from March 2009. This is an update for all the folks who lived around this area.

    By Nizam (08/04/2011)
  • Alan-I think you have a sister called Elizabeth, my twin sister and I used to come to your house to play. I remember the houses all the way down Spring Street -we lived in Victoria Street and we must have gone to school together -St Paul’s in West Street. I remember playing hide and seek in your house and knocking over a full potty under the bed-didn’t we all have them to avoid the outside loo at night?

    By Belinda Lumsden (22/10/2011)
  • Hi Belinda, yes I certainly remember you – not your twins though, but did you have a brother Michael? Indeed I do have a sister alive and well and living in Saltdean, a grandmother called Liz. Were you my school year or hers? Any news of St Paul’s people would be great.

    By Alan Taylor (26/10/2011)
  • Hi Alan: my twin sister is Vanessa and my brother Brian. I was born in 1956 and went to St Paul’s from 1959. I remember Spring Street as you describe. Victoria Street was similar with no cars and safe to play. Do you remenber Frederick’s Barber shop on corner in Upper North Street? We were sent along with my brother for haircuts; needless to say they resembled short back and sides. I have commented on St Paul’s in the Schools category on this site and there are a few people who were there at the same time – have a look. Sadly I don’t see anyone from that time. I do think a reunion would be good! I remember a lot of us lived in the Powis/Upper North Street area

    By Belinda Lumsden (27/10/2011)
  • For very nearly 20 years now, I’ve worked at the ugly Crown House in Upper North Street/Regent Hill, does anyone have any info on what was there before? There have been times, when people have had to stay overnight (security etc) that things have been ‘seen’ and some have been spooked. Never had any of that myself, and I have spent nights alone there, although most buildings have ‘noises’ at night.

    By Ken Valder (29/10/2011)
  • Fascinating reading about all of you being born or living around Western Road and upper North St. B’ton. I lived on Western Road near Montpelier St and went to school at St Mary Magdalen’s R.C co-ed school from around 1947 – 1949 after Reverend Mother at the Blessed Sacrament Convent asked my mother to take me away as she said I was a bad influence on the other girls! I believe I was a bit of a tom boy. I enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere in the co-ed school and made friends with Molly Brown and Elizabeth Bartholomew and remember a John Summerfield who lived opposite the School – whose mother worked at a Coffee Shop at Clock Tower. I now live in Australia.

    By Patricia Maynard (03/11/2011)
  • John Summerfield was my father and you are correct about his mother. He has passed away now but he always talked about that school.

    By Jarrett Summerfield (10/06/2013)
  • My grandmother owned a guest house which was at 27 Upper North Street. She sold it in 1987 but had it for about 20+ years. Her name was Hilda Hartley.

    By Kelly Priestley (13/08/2013)
  • I am the owner of number 45 Upper North Street. It is currently an osteopathic practice and back care shop. I’ve always wondered who lived at this address in the past and what the shop was originally in the 1830s. Does anyone have any idea?

    By Gerry Carter (23/01/2014)
  • Hi Gerry, 45 Upper North Street was built in the 1830s and was probably a grocer’s store from the outset. In 1840 it was numbered 40 Upper North Street and in the hands of John Botting, a grocer. It was renumbered to 45 around 1871 and remained as a grocers until around 1964, after which time it became an antique dealer.

    By Andy Grant (23/01/2014)
  • Hi, can anyone remember the family that had a fishmongers on the south side of Upper North St? If I remember rightly both the husband and the wife were short of a leg. There was a son David, they lived in Stapley Rd,Hove. I often wondered what happened to David-he seemed to just disappear.


    By Lesley Brett (Sheminant) (18/01/2016)
  • Hi Alan Taylor. My mother, myself and two older sisters, lived opposite you in Spring Street until the houses on your side of the road were demolished to provide a playground for St Mary Magdalene School. We used to play with you, your sister Elizabeth and Frances who lived further up the road.

    By Sarah Greenwood nee Woods (21/05/2017)
  • I would be really interested in piecing together some information about the history of The Windmill pub if anyone can help me?

    By Rosie (11/09/2017)
  • I lived in 51 Upper North Street around 1939/1942 as a child. A bomb that failed to explode dropped in Spring Street outside the basement entrance to 51 Upper North Street.

    By Edwin Miller (26/10/2018)
  • My Great Grand Father died at 44 Upper North Street in 1888, at that time he was described as being a Greengrocer and Beerseller. His name was John Wilton. If anyone has any information especially if this was before or after the renumbering of the Street I would be very interested.

    By Shirley Turner (10/08/2019)
  • Dear Shirley Turner, I’ve only just come across this! I live at 44 Upper North St. Have been here 25 years. It was a pub called the Blacksmiths Arms. In recent years it has been an antiques shop, and we live in it as a house, with a printmaking studio. I have been in touch with a relative of yours, called George Wilton. He wrote this in 2005:
    My name is George Wilton and my family lived at the above address for a number of years. Recently my nephew’s fiancee was visiting Brighton and you were kind enough to allow her through your home and let her photograph the inside. She prepared an album of the photographs for my sister, who lives in Perth Western Australia, and me. It was wonderful to see the house again and to know that someone was interested in its history. While I am not the expert my sister is I could no doubt answer questions that you may have about the house.

    We are the last surviving members of the family who were born with the Wilton name. I am presently researching a family tree and have got back to my great, great grandfather who was born in 1844. It is my ambition to go back further but I have only just begun my quest.
    I then wrote with some questions and he replied:
    To your questions. I spoke to my sister Mary who lives in Perth WA so the answers are our combined recollections. First. Was there a cellar?
    We think there was, although we cannot be absolutely certain. We think that the beer barrels were delivered to the curb and then lowered through a couple of metal doors in the sidewalk. If this is correct, how they got them up to the bar area is hard to imagine. If they were delivered direct to the bar there must have been a way to raise the counter to gain access to the bar otherwise they would have had to roll them through the Bar Parlour!
    Second. How was the place run?
    There was a Public Bar as soon as you entered the door on the left from the street. If you went straight ahead you came to another door which led into a Saloon Bar (Bar Parlour). If you continued through the Saloon Bar you would come to a further door which led to toilets which were outside. Mary says the Men’s were to the right at the bottom of the stairs. I seem to recollect that the ladies were right outside the door before you went down the stairs.
    If you entered the Saloon Bar (Bar Parlour) and turned right you were faced with another door which led to the Kitchen, which was down a hallway to the left and down a couple of stairs. Somehow this room seemed to have an exit to the outside which must have been a landing on the stairs to the outside men’s toilet. There was a sink on the left wall of the kitchen as you entered, past the door to the outside and the gas stove was straight ahead on the back wall. As you entered there was also a door on the right which we think was a pantry. There was another door under the stairs leading up to the upstairs part of the house. This was a storage cupboard if we remember correctly.
    If you entered through the right hand door from the street you were in the Jug and Bottle Department. This was separated from the Public Bar by a partition although it was open for service from the main area behind the counter. On the public bar side of the partition was the dart board. There was a bench along the window of the public bar although it had a high back so passers by could not see into the bar.
    The main room on the first floor (i.e. one up from the ground) which had the bay window was the living room and the other rooms were bedrooms. Mary says that our mother had a bathroom installed or upgraded although I am hazy about the location. We do not remember the pipe going into the wall under the bay window. I expect you are probably correct in assuming it was a gas pipe for a sign.
    The back yard was very much the same as it appears now (without your renovations that is). It was surrounded by high walls and had an old shed at the far end. My grandmother used to run some hens to supplement the egg rations during the war. Neither my sister or myself can recall a match factory.There was no entry from the road behind.
    There were no meals provided but my mother did get a licence to provide sandwiches. It was not easy because there was still rationing and she had to get extra points to provide the food for the sandwiches.
    The beer was supplied by Tamplin’s Brewery and the Pub was a”Tied House” . I think this meant that it was owned by the brewery and that my father was the lesee. It was only licenced for beer but not for spirits. This was a distinct disadvantage as other pubs were able to sell spirits as well as beer. You are quite right to conclude that there was not a lot of money to be made with all the competition so close. Dad gave up the lease in 1949 and we were on our way to Australia in August of that year.
    As far as the name, the pub was always the Blacksmith’s Arms as far as I can remember. I cannot remember the two smithys you mention although I do remember we lived in Marlborough Street somewhere near the top end, close to Upper North Street and on the left hand side looking up from Western Road.
    Other snippets you may find useful:
    There was a grocery store run by the Coleman’s near the pub and on the same side of the road. There was a plumbers yard close to that (The plumber was Jack Drew). Just past that, towards St. Mary Magdeline’s Church, was a fishmonger shop, run by the Thomas’s. On the other side of Upper North Street past Marlborough Street was a grocery shop run by the Emerson’s and further along a produce store run by Mr. Povey. Finally, further along again there was a sweet shop cum tobacconist and paper store run by a Miss Rogers.On reflection it seems all the shops were on the same side of the street as the pub except for the Golden Cross Hotel which was on the corner around Preston Street(?).

    By Sarah Chrisp (13/02/2020)
  • Hello, I’ve recently moved into Victoria Street (No 37) and wondering if anyone knows anything about the history of that house? Thanks.

    By Jane Oakhill (13/04/2020)
  • Jane, The Keep archive at Falmer is currently closed so access to the street directories is not possible [unless you can find something on-line], but Victoria Street dates from the late 1830s – early 1840s.

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (14/04/2020)
  • Hi
    Just discovered this site, I am interested in No 77 Upper North Street. My sisters father William Rawlinson lived there with his wife Mabel until his death in 1975. It may be that his father George owned the house previous to that.
    William was a Manager/Salesman in a clothes shop, he also seems to have been an active Freemason.
    I am particularly interested in discovering what happened to his wife Mabel after his death.

    By Robert Hedges (02/09/2020)
  • Dear Sarah Chrisp,
    I only came across your reply to my enquiry (10/08/2019) about John Wilton of 44 Upper North Street last week. I did keep looking for a few months to see if anyone had any information but gave up and just unexpectedly came across your reply, I was so delighted and emailed my sister who resides in Canada immediately.
    How extremely kind of you to write in such detail and so interesting to know some of the history of the building which I understand is now a grade 2 listed building.
    It seems that George Wilton and I share the same Great Great Grandfather, the previously mentioned John Wilton who was certainly living in Upper North Street in 1841 (information from the 1841 census) and as previously mentioned died there in 1888. He is buried in Patcham church yard along with his wife Mary Ann and a son James.
    The Street was renumbered at some time during the 1870’s and was originally numbered 39 Upper North Street.
    My Mum was a Wilton and I although she died in 1911 I remember her telling us that her and her siblings used to visit their uncle who lived in Upper North Street when they were children.
    George and I are obviously of the same vintage and I am continuing to gather more information about this large family. Some of whom I know were still living at 44 Upper North Street in 1939.
    Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to reply to my enquiry it is very much appreciated.

    By Shirley Turner (04/05/2022)
  • Dear Shirley Turner, I am so glad you found my reply. It is amazing how far the Wilton family have travelled around the world. We moved out of no 44 in March this year, and a new couple live there now. It was our very happy home in a friendly community for 28 years. Yes it is a listed building, and has many original features. We used the shop window as a showcase for our daughter’s collection of odd finds. If you look up ‘Anna’s Museum’ you will find images of it. The new owners are keeping hold of the collection while we find a new home for it.

    By Sarah Chrisp (16/05/2022)

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