Lives Less Photographed: working class life in Brighton, 1860-1935

Brighton Town Hall c1896
Reproduced with permission from Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Willow Cottages, 1935
Reproduced with permission from Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery Exhibition

Away from its grand architecture and seaside crowds, Brighton’s working population often lived in appalling poverty. Lives Less Photographed reveals some rare images of local working class life: the people, and the lost areas of Brighton in which they lived.

Photographs help tell the stories of modern history, but the lives of the working classes seldom appear in early pictures. Many of the photographs displayed are official survey images, taken to record areas of poor quality housing considered for demolition. Regarded as ‘slums’, the poverty in these areas rivalled the poorest areas of the east end of London. But these ‘slums’ were also home to many working class families with strong roots in the town. Other photographs show Brighton’s working communities in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, including local fishermen at work, reflecting Brighton’s longest standing industry.

Lives Less Photographed runs from 4 November 2008 until 26 April 2009.  Admission is free.

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery website gives details of this and other exhibitions.

Comments about this page

  • I know one of the girls in the photo above of Willow Cottages. The one sitting on the sofa is now Jean Dougan who still lives in the town. I used to work with her late husband; she was very proud to be in that picture. Then she was a member of an Italian origin family that lived in the yard off West St, on the east side half way up.

    By Geoffrey Mead (14/11/2008)
  • As the curator of this exhibition, I’d love to get in touch with Jean. One of the themes of this exhibition is the relationship between the photographer and those photographed, and I’d be very interested to hear Jean’s story of the event. If anyone is still in touch with Jean, I can be contacted at

    By Kevin Bacon (17/12/2008)
  • I have a wedding photo taken circa 1930s showing my aunt as a bridesmaid and my grandmother on the groom’s side but whose wedding it is I would like to know. I have been trying to get some info on the photographer who was R.E. Blakemore, 39A Cambridge Road, Hove. Phone then was Hove 5374. I can’t find any info at all on the web. The photo contains several people and wonder how related. Are you able to help with anything about the photographer, which could give me a lead.

    By Mary Gambier (27/06/2011)

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