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The Basketmakers Arms

Early street directories

Brighton’s early street directories indicate that former domestic residence and workshop space at number 12 Gloucester Road became known as the ‘Basketmakers Arms’ around 1859.  However, that is not entirely correct. For some years before this, both the pub and the street were known by different names. Gloucester Road was originally Gloucester Lane, a long road of tenement housing with a yard between numbers 12 & 14 where property number 13 should have been.

Basketmakers Arms in 1912

Home and workshop

Number 12 clearly had potential for both a home and workshop. In 1852 Thomas Knight, took possession of the property from the Back family and opened a basket making business, probably employing his son Joseph and Thomas Cook, a blind basket maker from number 14. Thomas Knight also began to supplement his income by selling beer from his shop, calling the premises, ‘The Brokers Arms’. Perhaps Thomas chose such an unusual name to reflect the occupation of his close neighbour William Giles, a furniture broker.

Basket making for 25 years

By 1859 the premises had become better known as ‘The Basketmaker’s Arms’, but the census returns still seemed to indicate that beer sales were considered a subsidiary line to making wicker baskets and sieves, which was Thomas Knight’s main source of income. Although Thomas continued to make baskets there for over 25 years, the beer house became more popular and developed into a thriving independent business.

Basketmakers Arms in 2010

Local dynasty of publicans

When Thomas eventually left in the mid 1870s, the Basketmakers was taken over by a Mr Boyd, who in turn passed it to Mr Harry Hall, from a local dynasty of ‘Hall’ publicans.   At last, both the census enumerator and street directories could agree, for from then on the retailing of quality beer in ‘The Basketmakers’ was recorded as its prime purpose.

Research kindly supplied by Roy Grant

Click on the image below to open original in a new window – click again to zoom in.

Census results for 12 Gloucester Road


Comments about this page

  • Oh goodness me I remember this pub! I was a regular there back in the late 70’s. The place had a very young clientele, lots of long haired kids drank there. It even had its own slang expressions that seemed unique to the place. I also recall the delightful ‘Viking’, a half and half of Gales Prize Old Ale and HSB. The name came from the habit of not putting the glass down until it was empty. ‘Fair drink!’  ’Some say the fairest!’

    By Alan Knight (02/12/2010)
  • The history of those living at 12 Gloucester is wonderful. Do you know where, how I could get the same information for 4 Gloucester Cottages?

    By L. Filman (31/07/2012)
  • Gloucs Cottages…simple…lots of work! Use the decenniel census returns and the [almost] yearly trade and street directories; the rates book for the district will be useful. All this can be seen at Brighton History Centre at the Museum. Try also looking at the website of the North Laine Community Association which has a streets section. This My B&H site has a Local History messages section that goes out all over the world, put this request on there…someone out there will know!

    By Geoffrey Mead (01/08/2012)
  • My mum was born in the room above the front bar on the 13th April 1930. She now lives in Australia and is 83. She has many fond memories of her time there.

    By Peter Naylor (03/09/2013)
  • My father was a young police officer in the 1950s. At that time, according to him this was a rough pub. He used to recount a tale how he got called there to deal with a fight and got physically thrown out the pub and ended up in a brawl outside the pub with the offender whilst a crowd formed round them and did not intervene. Well my dad must have won and then of course it was the small matter of walking your prisoner all the way to the cells at the town hall.

    By Harrington Villas (18/06/2014)
  • I remember the Basketmaker’s Arms as a “local” when I used to meet my girlfriend, whose Gran lived along the street opposite the back of the old Astoria. This would have been in the late 60s. I have been in recently with my son when he came down from London, and it still has the old charm.

    By David Shelton (20/06/2014)
  • I lived in Brighton from 1943 to 1952. I remember my friends parents ran The Basketmakers Arms and I used to go there to play with her, this was in the mid 50’s.  Does anyone remember the name of the landlord then?

    By Sandra (19/03/2018)
  • Kelly’s Directory 1949 has Albert W Harriott beer retailer at that address.

    By Geoffrey Mead (20/03/2018)
  • Sandra, if you look at the end of the article itself, it shows on the details of occupiers taken from street directories that Albert W Harriott is listed there from 1924 to 1951.

    From 1954, and at least into the early 1960s, it shows Jas Wadsworth.

    By Alan Hobden (21/03/2018)
  • The photo 1912 is my grandparents Albert William and Gertrude Harriott and my father Albert Douglas who was about three yrs old. Little Albert married Ada Goodrich of Bear Road and they had eleven children. They lived at 3 Fletching Road until 1954 when they moved to Mt  Gambier, South Australia. Gertrude was the daughter of Charles Knight who had the Basketmakers prior to the Harriott’s. That photo was originally on a match box. I have had quite a few very tasty ales at the Basketmakers on my four visits to the UK and hopefully there will be more in the future.

    By Michael John Harriott (01/08/2018)
  • Great to read about the history of the place. I loved this pub when I lived in Brighton. Does anyone know when the tradition of putting messages in the boxes on the walls began?

    By Nick Bateman (23/07/2021)

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