12 January 2016

Upper Market Street, Hove

Judy Middleton (2001 revised 2012)

copyright © J. Middleton.  
Upper Market Street 

This street was contemporary with Brunswick Town development. In 1826 the Revd Thomas Scutt conveyed numbers 33 and 34 to Michael Comber, builder, and the following year Comber mortgaged the properties for £800; ten years later he took out fire insurance for them. The cover was probably thought necessary as two laundresses occupied the premises at the time and each had an ironing stove in the fireplace. Michael Comber died in 1841 aged 76 leaving no will. But the mortgages were still outstanding and in 1856 when they were re-assigned to Somers Clarke, Comber’s 78-year old widow had to testify that her late husband had been the owner. In 1862 number 33 was let by solicitors Howlett & Clarke and it became a pub.

The 1851 census recorded brick-layers living at numbers 6 and 12 and brick-layer’s labourers lived at numbers 6, 8 and 11. Police Constable Jesse Burchell aged 34 lived at number 9. He was one of Hove’s earliest policemen and its first sergeant. A portrait of him taken in around 1880 still exists and shows him magnificently bearded dressed in an old-style jacket fastened by hooks right up to the chin.
By February 1878 there were 194 inhabitants in Upper Market Street and some of the houses were very overcrowded. For instance, in 1890 number 8 contained four families numbering eleven people while number 9 contained five families numbering sixteen people.

On 3rd April 1984 the body of 58-year old George Franks was discovered in his smart, ground floor flat in Upper Market Street (valued at £22,000). He moved there around six years previously and had once worked as a senior radio operator at the highly sensitive GCHQ base at Earl’s Court that monitored London’s 120 diplomatic missions. It seems he left a letter and a rumour went around he had committed suicide. Questions were asked in the House of Commons, which implied Franks might have committed suicide because of pressure resulting from the controversial decision to ban unions at GCHQ. In fact it was established that Franks died of a heart attack. Although an inquest was not normally held into a death from natural causes, Mr Edward Grace, the coroner, decided to hold one because of the controversy surrounding the case.

Locksmith’s Arms
This was one of the smallest licensed premises in Hove and only the Station in Brunswick Street West was smaller. Porter stated that W Bullen was the landlord in 1841. The 1851 census recorded Thomas Fiest, 45, ale-house keeper, and his wife aged 40, living at number 10 but no name was recorded for the premises. Another family also lived there. Smithers Brewery owned the pub from 1871 and it was still in their ownership in 1923. In 1897 the Locksmith’s Arms had a rateable value of £40. By contrast the big four at Hove (Sussex Hotel, Cliftonville Hotel, Exchange Inn and Eclipse) had a rateable value of £320 each. The Presland family had a long association with the Locksmith’s Arms. B Presland was there from the 1890s until around 1908, followed by Richard Benjamin Presland until the 1920s and then Mrs Mary Presland until 1934 when the pub closed. By 1936 Mrs B Howell ran a cafĂ© there.

Victory Inn
In 1862 the solicitors Howlett & Clarke leased number 33 and the premises became a pub called the Victory Inn. It was not until 1884 that somebody suddenly realised there was a restrictive covenant on the property dating back to 1826 prohibiting the use of the building as a pub. A release had never been signed. Expert opinion was sought and counsel stated that Mr Scutt or his heirs had no remedy in law because of the length of time the covenant had been openly disregarded. The pub was renumbered at number 11 and remained in business until around 1908 with the last landlord being Edward David Hill. By 1910 the premises were occupied by a French polisher.

Copyright © J.Middleton 2012
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