Reconstruction in 1901

Floral Hall, 1938: The Floral Hall was part of the market buildings which were built between Black Lion Street and Market Street in 1900-1901 by the borough engineer Francis May in red brick and terracotta design in three sections, each with iron roofs and arched glass, selling fruit, vegetables and flowers. Above the entrance the twin dolphin crest of Brighton Borough can be seen. Closed in 1938 and was demolished; The entrance facade remained however and the site was used as a car park until 1984 when work began on building Bartholomew Square which opened in 1987.
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council
Interior of Floral Hall, c. 1926
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council
Saturday morning market
Photo by Tony Mould

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

d) RECONSTRUCTION: In 1900-1 the market was rebuilt by borough engineer Francis May in a red-brick and terracotta design in three sections, each with arched glass and iron roofs. Two of the sections dealt in fruit and vegetables, while the southern part was used for selling flowers, the Floral Hall. This market building itself closed in 1938 after the Circus Street building opened, and was demolished and converted into a car-park in 1940, although the Market Street fa..cs.ade remained until the construction of Bartholomew Square in 1984-7. {114,130}

e) MUNICIPAL MARKET : The present municipal wholesale market in Circus Street was opened in January 1937 on a slum clearance site which included St Margaret’s Mission Hall and the small houses of Circus Street and Circus Court. A new fish market was opened in the building in January 1960 by the Duke of Norfolk, replacing the Victorian facility on the Lower Esplanade. This market building is now scheduled for redevelopment. {83,116}

f) SATURDAY MORNING MARKET , Upper Gardner Street : In the last years of the nineteenth century, street-traders (‘barrow-boys’) began to congregate in Bond Street and Gardner Street . The police and the county borough council, tired of moving the traders on, set aside Upper Gardner Street for their use on Saturday mornings just after the turn of the century. The antiques, bric-a-brac and junk now sold between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. every Saturday are a great attraction.
The ‘leader’ of Brighton’s barrow-boys was Harry Cowley (1890-1971), a chimney-sweep by trade but a champion of the traders, the poor, the elderly and the homeless. Born at 33 Lincoln Street, his campaigns won fixed pitches for street-traders in both Upper Gardner Street and the Open Market , and he also started a movement of ‘vigilantes’ (‘squatters’ in modern parlance) after both wars to provide roofs over the heads of the homeless in empty properties. He was one of the best-known and best-loved men in the town for many years. {281,291}

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • I was very pleased to read the article on the Brighton Barrow Boys. My father, who died in 1966, John William Mockett born in 1920 was a Brighton Barrow Boy and his pit was by St. Peter’s Church opposite the Old Manhattan Night Club. When he returned from the war he went back to being a Brighton Barrow Boy up until his heart condition in 1962. He became the first man in the UK to have the Heart Valve replacement on 18th July 1962 at Guys Hospital London, performed by Dr. Donald Ross. I cannot remember much about my father but I do remember he wore a red tin badge on his arm, with the words licensed trader, or something like that. I believe there are old photos of that in the Brighton Library, and maybe of the Barrow Boys. My Uncles, both Mocketts and the Whites, were Barrow Boys and it’s a shame how progress and the cost of living has pushed them out. I was once told by my Uncles that “your father’s fruit and veg pitch will always be yours if you wanted to trade”. Tell that to the Council nowadays.
    Great information, hope more information can be found and I would like to help with any research. Thank you Steve Mockett aged 52.

    By Steve Mockett (04/03/2008)
  • Hi Steve, my dad was a barrow boy, his name was Victor Mockett, and he had a brother called Stanley. My dad used to trade at the bottom of Elm Grove and in Churchill Square. I was wondering if we are related!! Susan Mockett, age 57

    By Susan Mockett (12/03/2015)
  • The Flower Hall was built by Rowland Brothers (Builders) Horsham to a design by Francis May, The Borough Engineer.

    By Christopher Rowland (10/12/2020)
  • The QueenSpark book, “Shops Book :Brighton 1900-1930” one of their early publications, number 6, was written by the late Neil Griffiths in 1977. One of the chapters is on barrow boys; I did check, but it does not have any Mocketts in there that I can see, however it is a good account of their trade written by someone who did achieve a Masters Degree in Social History. It is long out of print but should be in Jubilee Library and when it opens, The Keep archive at Falmer.

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (10/12/2020)

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