North Laine History
Why is North Laine a Conservation Area?
North Laine became a conservation area in 1977 because it was deemed to have a recognizable character requiring protection. The area was developed in the early c19th, previously a large arable field divided into strips of land (paul pieces), and an irregular grid iron street pattern was formed which is still very much part of its character. With the coming of the railway in the 1840s the development of Victorian housing along with small industries, workshops, and other commercial premises created a mix of land uses but with which is still very much part of North Laine’s character. There are few buildings of individual architectural merit but the area has what the North Laine Conservation Area Study of 1995 describes as ‘the rich texture of metropolitan life with several streets of modest Victorian terraced houses whose attraction lies in their simple repeated facades.’
A product of utility not fashion
North Laine was not the product of fashion but of utility. It served the resort of Brighton with its small industries -
Conservation areas are designated for their special architectural or historic interest. It is the interest of the area rather than of individual buildings which is the main reason in identifying conservation areas. The townscape and character is made up of a number of different features namely its geography, topography, street pattern, the layout of buildings, the density of the area, general heights and massing and the architectural styles and building materials used.
The layout of the former arable fields has determined our street pattern
In North Laine the layout of the streets has been determined by the topography. The ground slopes from west to east and this slope determined that the layout of the strips of land (paul pieces) would be from north to south. The layout of the streets is based on this historic field pattern and largely survives. Once development began on the North Laine the dominant form was and is rows of houses or terraces. Some streets have a variety of building types whilst others have a uniform terrace. The traditional building height was two or three storeys and much lower than that found elsewhere in the historic areas of Brighton.
Most of the buildings in North Laine date from the c19th although there are some that date from the c18th. Those houses built in the later c19th had sash windows with doors that were simple four paneled doors with mouldings around the recessed panels. The dominant building material was bungaroosh, a type of flint rubble that was rendered and then painted. Roofs were originally slate. There are some brick and clay tiled buildings and a few pebble fronted buildings and one or two buildings with mathematicaltiles.
The development of our streets
The North Laine Conservation Area Study gives the dates in which the streets were developed.
Listed buildings in North Laine. From top: Brighthelm Church and Community Centre, Pelham Square and Kensington Place