12 January 2016

Brunswick Street East, Hove

Judy Middleton (2001 revised 2012)

It is a curious little street with Donkey Row at the top west side and the east side dominated by what used to be called the Western Hotel although there have been a few name changes since but the beautiful mosaic proclaiming the original name is still to be seen. There are three exits from the street to the east with one being a small passageway burrowing through a building. The buildings on the west side were constructed as stables, some with haylofts and accommodation for grooms on top. In the 1851 census heads of household living in the street included nine coachmen, two grooms, one ostler and one stableman.

copyright © J.Middleton 
Brunswick Street East 
According to the Hove Commissioners there were 48 inhabitants of the street in February 1878. But it is difficult to be accurate about the number of people because it seems coachmen and grooms were sometimes included in the statistics gathered for Brunswick Square itself. Indeed early numbering of the street was peculiar because many buildings adopted the same number as the corresponding residence in Brunswick Square to which they were once attached. This was remedied in 1922 when the street was re-numbered.
In 1903 Hove Council passed plans drawn up by Messrs Clayton & Black for shops and workrooms for Mr TJU Robins. There was a Robins Brewery backing on to Waterloo Street (also known as the Anchor Brewery).

In 1926 Mr WJ Bartlett, a taxi-cab proprietor of number 46, and Albert Johnson, also a taxi-cab proprietor, were granted petroleum licences to store 500 gallons in an underground storage tank.
In April 1992 artist Lynne Gibson lived in the street. She concentrated on etchings, using a process dating back to the 16th century. Her chosen theme was figures from myth and legend.
In September 1992 it was stated traders had declared war on selfish dog-owners who walk their pets down the street and allow them to foul the pavements. In future, anybody walking a dog there would be asked to ensure their dog did not make a mess, or if they did, the owners would be handed a poop scoop and asked to clear it up.
copyright © J.Middleton 
Brunswick Street East 
By the 1990s the Sanctuary Café was operating at numbers 51-55 and in December 1998 it offered junk TV screenings fortnightly. In February 2001 an advertisement invited patrons to ‘Eat, Drink and be Sanctified’. Besides offering vegetarian food, the café specialised in Art exhibitions, local information and chilled music. Downstairs in The Cella, described as ‘a funky and intimate temple’ there was live music, poetry, live performance and creative innovations. In 2000 the Juicy Guide voted it the best café in Brighton and Hove.

In November 1999 local historian John R Watson waged a one-man battle against developers who wanted to demolish an old building, and to build three houses and a maisonette on the site plus the empty site next door. Mr Watson claimed the building was the old Law Court and had been called that since his childhood in the area. But according to Antony Dale, the old Law Courts were located in Brunswick Town Hall in Brunswick Street West. Number 38 was certainly an odd looking building and it looked out of context in its situation amongst a jumble of mews buildings. It was a square edifice with a large arched window between two doors; in fact it resembles a small school or chapel. In November 1999 the planning committee threw out an application to demolish it and on 10th January 2001 the same committee ordered emergency repairs to be carried out while compulsory purchase remained an option. Roger Dowty, conservation officer, said the building might have been used as a picture gallery in the days when it was connected to 14 Brunswick Square.

In April 2006 there was an interesting article in the Argus concerning the diversity of people living in the street. Among them was retired Squadron-Leader Douglas Wilcox aged 86 who flew Halifax aircraft during World War II and claimed to live in one of the oldest houses, which he said was built in 1724. The Sanctuary Café was still in operation, the Gee Whizz bicycle shop was in business and there was a florist called Amaryllis owned by Bryan Duff and Alex Szilagyi. There was a yoga teacher and a renowned design firm called WithIt that had made a great deal of money from the creation of mad cows and cheeky monkeys, used to decorate many items. It was certainly a change in atmosphere since the days the street was home to eight garages plus a car park serving the Old Market.

Copyright © J.Middleton 2012
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