12 January 2016

Brunswick Street West, Hove

Judy Middleton (2001 revised 2012)

It might seem odd that one small street should contain four licensed premises but historically several pubs and beer houses in working class areas was usual.
In 1851 some brick-makers lived in the street. William Wyatt, a 26-year old brick-maker, lived at number 1 with his wife Mary, two sons and a daughter; Edward Gilbert, a 45-year old brick-maker, lived at number 5 while John Clayton, a 53-year old brick-maker lived at number 6. The Claytons were among the most noted of local brick-makers. John Clayton lived with his wife Ann, sons Edward 21, Samuel 20, Adolphus 17 (all brick-makers) daughter Mary Ann 14, and grand-daughter Mary Ann aged four.
By 1861 there were several coachmen, fly proprietors and an ostler living in the street.
The Hove Commissioners used to rent premises in Brunswick Street West for use as a depot and in March 1891 it was recorded they paid a half-year’s rent of £14-16-6d to Mr JG Pilcher. In November 1909 Hove Council rented Lansdowne Stables in the street at an annual cost of £30 and they used the premises to store chairs when not wanted on Brunswick Lawns.

copyright © J.Middleton 
Brunswick Street West
In May 1894 it was stated there had been complaints about carriages being washed in the public highway and the attention of the police would be called to it.
In June 1903 the sanitary inspector informed Hove Council the workroom in Lansdowne Cottage was overcrowded and the occupier was given seven days notice to reduce the number of people to four.
In the early 1920s Robinson Motor Engineers occupied number 47. But in 1925 a new company moved in with the impressive title of Pannier Pure Preserves Ltd. The staff consisted of a manager and six ladies who made fine jams.
In 1921 planning permission was granted to convert number 21 from a stables and in the same year plans by E Wallis Long for Mrs Partridge to convert stables at number 57 into a motor garage were passed. In 1922 Stanley Hales, motor engineer of number 6, was granted a petrol licence to keep 40 gallons of petrol in a brick-built store at the back of number 41.
It appears the street was re-numbered in the 1920s. For example, C Alexander, fly proprietor, occupied number 41 in 1908; by 1912 the business was the South Coast Motor Garage and by around 1921 it was the Automobile Accessories Company and the same-named business occupied the premises until at least the 1970s. However, in 1925 the Directory shows the premises were at number 36 instead of the old number 41.

In February 1994 it was revealed that councillors had allowed a sex shop to operate without a licence because its business was entirely mail order and there were no personal callers.
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Brunswick Street West
In March 1998 it was stated that garages and other buildings behind the Dudley Hotel would be converted into eight houses if planning permission were granted. The following month there were further plans to demolish light industrial premises at numbers 34 to 36 and to erect a three-storey building with dormer windows on the east and west roof slopes. The premises would contain six flats, one two-bedroom flat on the ground floor, three two-bedroom flats on the first floor and a one-bedroom flat and a three-bedroom flat on the second floor. In August 1999 the Council approved plans to convert a commercial garage into a two-storey town house. In September 1999 there was an application to build a block of flats but people living opposite said they would rather see houses on the site and Ivor Caplin MP said it would be sheer folly to allow flats to go ahead there.

In 2003 there was controversy over plans to build three modern houses on the east side of the street to replace what was described as ‘three tatty-looking garages’. The architect behind the plans, Alan Phillips, stated it was ‘a high quality, contemporary design’. Harvel Roberts, manager of the Bow Street Runner, begged to differ and said ‘It they weren’t so high, it wouldn’t be so bad but they are also hideous. With so much glass, they are going to look like offices’.  He organised a petition against the project signed by 130 customers. In December 2003 councillors were divided 5-5 until the committee chairman cast a deciding vote in favour and the plans were passed.

Brunswick Cottage

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Brunswick Cottage, Brunswick Street West
On Heritage Open Day 16th and 17th September 2000 Brunswick Cottage was open to the public. It dated back to 1822 and has only recently been identified as the drawing office used by Charles Augustin Busby, architect of Brunswick Town. The identification was possible after some of his architectural drawings came to light. Busby lived at 1 Stanhope Place, which later became 2 Lansdowne Place, and a passage connected the house with his drawing office. In the 1950s the building was converted into residential use and all sorts of partitions were inserted. In May 2000 work began to restore the structure to a modern living space but with more empathy for its original dimensions. By this time the ceiling was sagging under the enormous weight of a water tank in the loft, and when it was all removed, the original arched ceiling could be seen. As the walls were beginning to bulge, steel lines were strung across the space. Busby obviously thought of his office as a temporary structure as it was not well built and the walls were of bungaroush. The walls were so unstable that when thin coats of plaster were applied, chunks of wall broke away. Restoration work revealed the shape of two large windows in the east wall but it was impossible to re-open them because it would invade the privacy of next door’s garden/patio and anyway planning permission was refused. Outside there are three windows at pavement level, which indicate the basement living area. Emergency work was carried out on the chimney after the storm and rain of 15th September 2000. The architect Alan Phillips undertook the restoration work, which was the subject of a Channel 4 TV programme Doing it Up broadcast in February 2001. Pedro and Hayley Castle owned the property; he was a chef by day and a DJ at the Zap and Ocean Rooms at night while she was a flight attendant and web-site designer. Brunswick Cottage now has a clean modern interior and one intriguing feature was the glass steps under-lit through a pool of olive oil, leading down to the basement area, which includes a hi-tech bathroom. Although the couple only moved back during December 2000, by June 2001 they said they would soon put the property on the market with a price tag of £300,000.

Brunswick Town Hall
The Brunswick Square Commissioners had managed quite happily for a number of years with a small building in Brunswick Street West. The structure was originally used to house fire appliances and had been adapted for use by police as well. Perhaps they would have been happy for this state of affairs to continue but matters were taken out of their hands when in 1834 Brighton received a Charter of Incorporation. This meant anybody arrested for committing an offence within the confines of Brunswick Town could no longer be taken before Brighton Magistrates; quite simply the area was outside their jurisdiction.
Therefore the Brunswick Square Commissioners were obliged to erect their own Court House that also included a police station and the necessary cells for prisoners. It cost £3,000 and was finished by 1856.
In 1873 this building passed to the Hove Commissioners and thus became Hove’s first Town Hall. It is ironic it should still be standing while the grandiose and expensive red brick Town Hall designed by the famous Alfred Waterhouse has gone.

Although the Brunswick building was relatively large, there was soon a shortage of space. In 1876 George Breach, Chief Superintendent, was asked to find quarters elsewhere in order that more office accommodation could be created. George Breach had lived over the shop, as it were, for years, and the Commissioners had employed him since 1836.

On 29th October 1879 the Hove Commissioners signed an agreement with Thomas Chappell to erect the new Hove Town Hall in Church Road. In May 1884 the Brunswick Town Hall was sold to William Charles Lake Bashford. In 1886 it was advertised as a suitable clergy house, institution, or lock-up rooms.
By the 1970s Rentmoor of Brighton owned the building and it was used as a warehouse. In September 1981 it was revealed that Hove bookie, Steve Griffin, together with Harry Green (a former well-known amateur snooker player) planned to turn the structure into a £200,000 sporting and leisure club called Bretts. There would be billiard-tables, snooker, pool table-tennis, darts, amusement machines, backgammon and chess, and it would be modelled on the idea of a Victorian gentleman’s club. The landlords of the Lansdowne Arms and Freemason’s Tavern opposed the plans and there were said to be nineteen licensed premises within a quarter of a mile of the proposed club. On 10th March 1982 Bretts opened for business with a cocktail bar and a basement wine bar. There were further protests when the club (now called the 147 Snooker Club) was granted a 14-hour licence in February 2000.
Bow Street Runner
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Bow Street Runner Pub
This pub was formerly known as the Station and legend has it that it was converted from the old Brunswick Police Station that also doubled as a Fire Station. But according to Antony Dale, the Brunswick Square Commissioners pulled down the original building plus another one to the south in the 1850s, and their Town Hall was constructed on the site.

The Station first appeared in the Directories in 1867 when the landlord was William Pennicott. John Barnett owned the pub and he also owned the Brunswick. On 1st September 1871 his widow Eliza Barnett granted a 35-year lease to John Mills Kidd and Frederick James Kidd, brewers. The rent was £24 a year. At the foot of the deed was written ‘Match Boarding round Bar part painted plain color (sic) part grained – water cask supply pipe and tap’. On the same date Eliza Barnett drew up leases for the Brunswick plus ten other pubs in Brighton. The Station remained in the hands of Kidd & Hotblack until 1926 when Tamplins took over and they kept it until 1965.
copyright © J.Middleton
An arresting sight,
contemporary architecture
opposite the
Bow Street Runner.

In the 1960s Dodo Hickman was licensee of the pub. She had followed a career on the stage as a singer, tap-dancer and contortionist. Her father Harry Wills had been a Keystone Kop in Hollywood. The pub mascot was a sulphur-crested cockatoo called Cheeky.
In April 1989 Jerry and Tania Vasse moved into the pub, by this time under its new appellation of Bow Street Runner. Neither of them had run a pub before but Jerry’s expertise as a builder came in handy when they transformed the interior while Tania specialised in home cooking with nothing on the menu costing more than £2. The walls were given a hand-painted green marble finish while the seats were refurbished in blue.
By 1994 it was a Courage pub and Robbie Roberts was the landlord. In 1999 he was still keeping the pub free of gaming machines and television and no food was served except for hot snacks on Sundays.
The pub sign showed a Bow Street Runner in uniform. The Bow Street Runners were the first recognised police force in London and the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street, near Covent Garden, organised them in the mid-18th century. In one of his letters Charles Dickens wrote ‘I remember them very well as standing about the door of the office in Bow Street. They had no other uniform than a blue dress-coat, brass buttons and a bright red cloth waistcoat’. The slang name for them was Redbreasts.

Denmark Tavern
It was founded in the 1860s and most probably named in honour of Princess Alexandra of Denmark who at the age of eighteen married Prince Edward on 10th March 1863. The public was very enthusiastic about the young bride, not least because she was the first future Queen since the 17th century who was not German. In 1866 Eliza Eggleton was the landlady and by 1875 F French ran the establishment. William King was mine host inn the 1880s and in 1891 Emily Miller was in charge. She was defined as a beer retailer and she lived with her son Charles Goulding, a letter carrier, eight lodgers and two servants. In 1896 Mrs Gander was running it and by 1899 it was closed. It was situated at number 5.

Freemason’s Tavern 
Although the official address is 39 Western Road, the pub has been included here because there is an entrance from Brunswick Street West. It is not clear quite why this name was chosen but there is a popular notion the Freemasons once held meetings upstairs.
The pub has been in existence since at least the 1850s and in 1854 Thomas Lindfield was landlord. He was still there in 1861 when the census recorded him as aged 45 and his birthplace was Egham, Surrey. He lived with his wife Mary, 49, and their three sons Thomas 21, John 19, and Edward 17; a barman and a pot-boy lived on the premises too. It seems the eldest son was not interested in following his father’s footsteps, as he was a clerk by trade. But the middle son John took over from his father and by 1871 he was managing the pub. He was then aged 29 and his wife Lucy was 33 while their son John was aged three. By 1875 George Hounsell was the landlord and he continued to run it until the 1890s. By 1891 Hounsell was described as a widower but there was a housekeeper to look after him and a barmaid and a barman to look after the bars. It seems remarkable that in the space of 40 years there were just three landlords but this changed after Hounsell’s departure.

On 2nd March 1881 Police Constable Upfield entered the pub whilst still on duty. But he was discovered and the punishment was a fine of 10/- or a reduction to the rank of 2nd class constable.
In 1905 W Hassell ran the pub, followed in 1910 by George Frederick Chapman and in around 1915 by Harold Betts. Betts stayed until the 1920s and then Frank Dickerson took over and remained until at least 1940.
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Freemason's Tavern

It was during Dickerson’s time as landlord that the famous face-lift took place. Kemp Town Brewery was incorporated on 18th March 1933; the company was established to take over the going concern previously carried on by William Henry Abbey, Henry Robert Burrows and John Roland Abbey at their brewery in Brighton. The architects Denman & Son were employed to carry out alterations to the Freemason’s in the 1930s. The entrance and upstairs restaurant were accented by being fronted in a spectacular frame of mosaic work with the colours being predominantly blue and gold. At the top in large gold letters ran the legend Freemason’s Restaurant Kemp Town Brewery while on either side appeared the Star of David (both a Jewish and a Masonic emblem). Below each star an extraordinary creature was depicted with a fish-like head and a long body ending in a curved tail like a sea-horse. The façade also included curved metal-framed windows and in the centre two protruding lamp holders made of bronze. The restaurant remained a flourishing enterprise for many years and in the early days it virtually had the field to itself. Looking at Western Road and Church Road today with its plethora of restaurants and cafés, it is difficult to visualise just how few there were in times past. The restaurant closed in around 1998.

In September 1981 it was stated that Brian Kent had been landlord for 28 years and his family had been there for 60 years. He said ‘At the moment we are virtually fighting to keep the English pub alive’. He objected to proposals to turn Brunswick Town Hall into a sporting club called Bretts if it was granted a licence.

In 1984 Edward and Ishbel Daniel took over the pub and they were still there in August 1987. By January 1995 the publicans were Josephine Ajay and Tony Owen; regulars raised £1,000 for charity through raffles and collections and the money was given to Sussex Beacon and Coppercliff Hospice.

By November 2000 Tanya and Darcy Gander ran the pub; they were keen to return the premises to its full Art Deco glory, which meant restoring the mosaics as well as re-vamping the interior. They enlisted the assistance of designer Alan Phillips who featured in the series Grand Designs on Channel 4. It helped that Mr Phillips also used the pub as his local. The £150,000 project was due to start in September 2001 and there was to be a three-storey extension at the back to provide more adequate toilet accommodation. By February 2002 local artist Scott Francis, 27, created some unusual effects to brighten up the toilets. When a man entered the gents’ a sensor on the door sent a sheet of water cascading down a glass wall in front of a 10-foot wide image of an erupting volcano. In the Ladies he created a 12-foot graphic of a shoal of fish shot from below and looking up towards a sunburst above. The Ganders hoped to create a cocktail bar and their cocktail adviser was Chris Edwards, former manager of the Groucho Club.
In September 2009 Stephen Simpson purchased the pub, the lease with Punch Taverns having ended.

Star of Brunswick
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32, Brunswick Street West,
formerly the Star of Brunswick Public House.
Charles Augustin Busby designed the pub and it was built in around 1824 specifically for working folk. It was in a different category to the Kerrison Arms in Waterloo Street where the Brunswick Square Commissioners held their meetings. The 1841 census recorded Wiliam Brooker, aged 30, as the landlord and he lived with his wife and their two children, William aged one year and David aged three months. The household included two female servants and one male servant. Soon afterwards William Barnden became mine host and remained until he died aged 60 on 4th April 1850 and his widow Mary took over the management of the pub. According to the 1851 census Mary, who was born in Maresfield, Sussex, was aged 62, and she shared the premises with a niece, a pot-man and a house servant. In around 1859 John Barnden was in charge.

On 25th August 1877 it was recorded that the cellars were flooded. In 1879 there were complaints about a bad smell and upon inspection by the authorities the privy and urinal were found to be in a foul state. Also the closet in the back yard belonging to the pub was insufficiently supplied with water from the well that also supplied the premises. In 1880 the Hove Commissioners leased the WC adjoining the pub from the predecessors of the Rock Brewery. By 1881 the landlord Thomas Walters complained that his water supply, namely the well, was impure.  

In 1887 John Bentley was running the pub but it seems his customers had to keep an eye on what he poured into their tankards and his favourite dodge was watering down the whiskey. In April 1889 he was fined 10/- and costs when his whiskey was found to be 7% under the minimum standard. In March 1890 he was again charged with adulterating the whiskey but it could not have been so bad since he was only fined 5/- and costs. In 1891 John Bentley was still there and he was aged 47 while his wife Lucy was aged 49. Chapman & Co owned the pub in the 1890s and in 1893 some alterations were carried out. The pub has seen its fair share of numbering changes; in 1854 it was numbered at 4 Brunswick Street West, then it became number 10 and finally in 1925 it became number 32.

In 1901 Hove Council renewed its lease on the WC adjoining the pub for a further 21 years. The rent was £1 a year and the upkeep came to £12 a year. But in 1921 Hove councillors decided not to renew the lease because as they quaintly put it ‘the lavatory was not quite so necessary’.
In 1999 the hanging sign outside the pub showed an eight-pointed star and within it a shield with two lions passant, guardant, similar to those appearing on the royal standard. Strangely enough, a single lion passant, guardant, appeared in the arms of William Margesson who in 1712 married Mary, sister and heir of William Whitebread of Offington in Sussex. The Whitebread arms featured three hinds’ heads and Whitebead PLC owned the Star of Brunswick; their single hind’s head appears above the pub sign.     

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