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Childhood memories of North Laine

Linda Freedman

Linda Freedman recalls the sights, sounds and smells of North Laine, Brighton

My parents moved down from Scotland in 1947, before I was born, and immediately settled in Kensington Gardens. My father opened his bespoke tailor shop in Gardner Street, which boasted many small businesses and trades. I clearly remember a large second hand furniture store in the street (the name of which was possibly Rosens, but I can't quite remember).

North Laine not 'trendy'

North Laine in the 1950s and 60s was certainly not 'trendy' and was similar to Camden Town before gentrification. There was a weekly market in Bond Street, which was lined on either side with various stalls selling trimmings, soaps and the usual goods found in a street market. In the summer my mother used to take me to the park behind the Dome, which really was a small park then, rather than the thoroughfare it has become. People sat on rows of deckchairs listening to the brass band and eating ice creams and refreshments from the kiosk. I have vivid memories of flocks of pigeons and a large willow tree, which is still there, though heavily trimmed.

Saturday afternoons at the Brighton Museum

As a child, on Saturday afternoons, I used to take myself off to Brighton Museum, which was housed in Church Street above the old Library. I remember a huge dinosaur's skeleton strung up from the ceiling in the main hall. There were various tanks of small tropical fish and Roman skeletal remains in numerous showcases. For some reason I found the relics and treasures in the Museum and the musty smell from the Library quite fascinating and enticing - a contrast to the active outdoor life led by the seaside.

As an older girl we used to hold our annual school Speech Day concert and prize giving (I went to Varndean Girls' Grammar School) at the Dome.

I think the North Laine now, though gentrified and trendy, retains the bustling feel of a shopping area of small traders, while still including the cultural centre of the city.

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