Local History

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If you live in a city or town noted for its history, there are likely to be many research opportunities. I live in Brighton and Hove in the south of England. My local Council has a list of the city's heritage assets on its website where many historic buildings are pictured and described. We also have two well known conservation societies: The Brighton Society and The Regency Society, which both have informative websites. The Regency Society website hosts the James Gray Collection, a large number of historic photographs taken in several of our city suburbs.

We have a Local History Centre, formerly part of the central library but now a stand-alone building called The Keep, where thousands of records are kept. There are at least three independent publishers (QueenSpark Books, Brighton Books Publishing, and Brighton Town Press) which dedicate themselves exclusively to publications about Brighton and Hove, mostly written by local residents.

Online resources include old maps, old street directories, census data, wills and probate, Historic England's records of listed buildings, collections of photos and films, as well as the Digital Media Bank offered by The Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust. The latter offers over 20,000 hi-res images, which you can download and re-use for free. These are from the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum, Booth Museum, Hove Museum and Preston Manor.

You can find plenty more by visiting the websites of National libraries and museums. The National Library of Scotland has large scale Ordnance Survey maps from many parts of the UK on its website, especially those from the 19th century. These include side by side map comparing "OS 1892" and "Now".

Brighton & Hove also has a website called myhousemystreet, which contains thousands of images scanned from street directories such as Pikes, Towners and Kellys, so residents can discover who lived in their home in any year going back as far as homes built in 1821.

A subscription to Ancestry.co.uk gives access to most population censuses. For a free alternative, search for Freecen, which offers a more limited range of censuses, mainly 19th century, listing the people at known addresses and their occupations.

Finally, it is worth looking for Facebook Groups where people share their own media. Two such in our city are Brighton Past and the Kemp Town Railway Line.

Click on any one of the twelve sources of info (below) to explore links:

1. Old maps e.g. 1873 or 1892
2. [a]  Published books
2 [b] Websites
3. Old street directories e.g. MyHouseMyStreet
4. Streets listed on www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk
5. Census data e.g. from 1871 or 1891
6. The Keep - our local history centre's records
7. Wills and probate  e.g. 1858-1996
8. Historic England's records of listed buildings
9. Our Council's own list of our city's heritage assets
10. Websites & Meetings of conservation societies
11. Collections of photos or films  e.g. The James Gray
12. Royal Pavilion & Museums Digital Media Bank

1. Browse old maps e.g. 1853 and 1892

Map of Roundhill Park Estate c. 1853

OS Six Inch Sussex LXVI Map surveyed 1873-75 (published 1880)

The 1873-75 map will appear in small view. To enlarge, repeat these steps more than a few times:

Side by side maps: "OS 1892" and "Now"

Ashdown Road | Belton Road | Crescent Road | D'Aubigny Road | Ditchling Road | Princes Crescent | Princes Road | Richmond Road | Roundhill Crescent | Roundhill Road | Roundhill Street | Upper Lewes Road | Wakefield Road |

1898 map from National Library of Scotland.

Not for commercial use. Credit line 'Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland'.

Maps of Brighton from Brighton Museum

[a]   Books on Round Hill

Local history Books

City Books in Western Road (in the Brunswick area of Brighton and Hove) probably carries a better range of local history materials than any other bookshop in our city. These are displayed in the shop's basement. Alternatively, many titles can be borrowed from the local library. 

Rose Hill to Roundhill: a Brighton Community £9.99 ISBN 1-90 1454-08-8, published by Brighton Books and written mainly by Round Hilll residents, is available online from Brighton Town Press Books.

The Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Timothy Carder ISBN 086 147 3159 [East Sussex County Libraries] is an excellent reference book (with a number of entries on Round Hill).

QueenSpark Books and Brighton Town Press specialise in publishing books about Brighton and Hove, mostly written by local residents.

The Town Beehive - A Young Girl's Lot Brighton 1910-1934 is written by Daisy Noakes who grew up in Princes Road opposite the windmill to the north of Belton Road.

More on Daisy Noakes can be viewed at www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/category/daisy_noakes.

For the history of our green railway corridors, where they went and railway works in Brighton

The Kemp Town Branch Line by Peter A. Harding ISBN 0 9523458 4 6 [available from City Books, Western Road Brighton & Hove]

Life at Brighton Loco. Works 1928-1936 Locomotion Papers No. 54 by A. C. Perryman [The Oakwood Press, Tandridge Lane, Lingfield, Surrey]

Pullman Craftsmen - Life at Preston Park Works 1947-1963 ISBN 0 904733 50 5 [QueenSpark Book 27]

Websites featuring Round Hill and local residents:

2 [b]   Websites which include Round Hill

Living in Brighton during the 1980s - this history site, created in 2005 by Pam Blackman (a former Princes Road resident) includes profiles of two well known Round Hill residents: one is a long-term resident in Princes Road and another is still very active within The Round Hill Society which he was instrumental in creating over 17 years ago.

The history of Round Hill, as told by us 30+ articles in history section.

Within this section is the article The Road to Round Hill by Andrew Partington, which traces the plans to make Round Hill a built area dating back to 1826 with the involvement of Thomas Read Kemp who also laid down the early plans for Kemp Town.

Rose Hill Park (i.e. old Round Hill): Rose Hill Villa built in the 1840s.

Map of Roundhill Park Estate c. 1853

Advertisement in Bankers Circular, Saturday 24th June 1854 (see top right of newspaper page)  selling the picturesque portion of the valuable Roundhill Park Estate situated on the Ditchling Road and admirably adapted for villa residences commanding splendid views of the sea, the town, the race course, the downs and surrounding countryside.

Brighton Past Facebook Group

Kemp Town Railway Line Facebook Group

Click on picture below for 15 min video of the branch line which went through Round Hill. Click here for picture of the railway cottage on the Centenary Industrial state on the site purchased by Billings and Hathaway as well as the signal box on the border with the most northerly corner of the Carelet site.

video of Kemptown branchline by Paul Edwards

History of James Corrall - Coal Merchant

3. Search old street directories

Click on "the year" to go to the street directory for Princes Road.

Then click on the directory once or twice to enlarge.

1880 1881 1883 1884 1885 1886

1887 1888 1891 1893 1895 1896

1897 1901 1903 1904 1906 1908

1909 1910 1913 1914 1915 1916

1918 1919A 1919B 1921A 1921B

1925 1926A 1926B 1927 1928

Check dates of street re-numbering

The streets of Brighton and Hove website provides an alphabetical index allowing you to check when particular streets were re-numbered. You will discover, for example, that Richmond Road was re-numbered on 20th April 1881, as was D'Aubigny Road

Do not assume that houses were not built on the basis of street numbers. They might have been listed in street directories under a different house number than they were given when renumbering took place.

Some of the directories in the above archive, such as

have full page advertisements giving details of the services offered by Round Hill businesses such as Brighton & Sussex Laundry Works Lewes Road Brighton.

You can find a picture showing the front of this laundry at the junction of Upper Lewes Road and the Vogue Gyratory (now part of Sainsbury) on page 35 of Rose Hill to Roundhill: a Brighton Community £9.99 ISBN 1-90 1454-08-8.


Search streets listed on www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk

My Brighton and Hove - community web site dealing with the living history of Brighton and Hove. Many of the articles on this site relate to Brighton streets and several of these are in & around Round Hill:-

Baker Street
Bear Road
Belton Road
Ditchling Rise
Ditchling Road
Elm Grove
Florence Road
Hollingbury Road
Holllingbury Industrial Estate
Islingword Road
Lewes Crescent
Lewes Road
London Road
Marshall’s Row
Park Crescent
Preston Circus
Preston Drove
Preston Park Avenue
Preston Road
Richmond Road
Roundhill Crescent
Roundhill Street
Shaftesbury Road
Southdown Avenue
Southover Street
Springfield Road
Upper Lewes Road
Vere Road
Viaduct Road
Wakefield Road

5. Search Free Cen census data

Advice on how to look for census records is available at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. For full results, you will need a subscription to their official partner websites, Ancestry and Findmypast.

However, records for certain years can be accessed for free on sites supported by advertising.

The latest version of the FreeCen site gives access to the 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 and 1891 population census and allows you to link to individual records.

The older version of FREECEN is a little more difficult to access. However, once you have found the record for a particular household in a particular street, you can go forward from there to the neighbouring household or back to the previous one. Here are some tips on how to do this:You will know some previous residents' names after looking at old street directories. E.G. James Towner lived at 1 D'Aubigny Rd in 1891.

Practise using the Census data site e.g. study of D'Aubigny Road

  1. At http://www.freecen.org.uk complete these fields ONLY:
  2. Click the FIND button
  4. Continue viewing data for more households in the same street (or one nearby) by clicking the NEXT HOUSEHOLD or PREVIOUS HOUSEHOLD tabs

You will gather data on everybody living in D'Aubigny Road in 1891, including servants.

When all NEXT HOUSEHOLDS are exhausted, you will find that you are then viewing Ashdown Road. But if you start by clicking PREVIOUS HOUSEHOLD, you will be viewing data from Wakefield Road.

You can vary the above study by changing the YEAR of the census to 1871.

You will then find that in 1871, James Towner was aged 41, a builder, living at 14 Lewes Road.

In your original 1891 study, he is 61 and living at 1 D'Aubigny Road, still with his wife Jane Towner (of the same age).

James' and Jane's decision to move to D'Aubigny Road in 1881 may have been motivated by the work James was already doing in that street as a builder. He was involved in the construction of several homes there between 1878 and 1895.

6. Search The Keep's historical records

Ashdown Road | Belton Road | Crescent Road | D'Aubigny Road | Ditchling Road | Princes Crescent | Princes Road | Richmond Road | Roundhill Crescent | Roundhill Road | Roundhill Street | Upper Lewes Road | Wakefield Road | Lewes Road Dispensary incl 101 RHC.

The Keep is a world-class centre for archives that opens up access to all the collections of the East Sussex Record Office (ESRO), the Royal Pavilion & Museums Local History Collections and the internationally significant University of Sussex Special Collections. It is also a centre of excellence for conservation and preservation and represents the new generation of archive buildings in the UK. See info on Getting there and Location and Opening

By searching The Keep's historical records you can find when> most of houses in D'Aubigny Road were built and the names of the builders.

An 1864 street directory returns a record that there were no houses in D'Aubigny Road then. An 1871 street directory mentions a lodging house in D'Aubigny Road - Viaduct house, run by J. Fuller - though this could possibly be accommodation for railway construction workers. Viaduct house gets no further mention in subsequent street directories. Note that The Kemp Town branchline was opened in 1869 and Lewes Road Station added to the route in 1873.  Possibly there was a temporary need to accommodate those working on this ambitious project. 

Clicking on The Keep's historical records of D'Aubigny Road will show who built the first houses there i.e. the homes mainly as we see them still today.

Who built the houses now in D'Aubigny Road?

4 D'Aubigny Rd (still No 4 and the SE end house) 24 Jul 1878 was built for George Wymark, though a covenant of that year mentions Thomas Phillips. I notice that the neighbouring house 6 D'Aubigny Rd was built by Phillips and Denman. Denman also worked together with Towner:
17 D'Aubigny Rd (NW end) 12 Nov 1978 Towner / Denman
1 D'Aubigny Rd (SW end) 11 Dec 1878 Towner / Denman
1A D'Aubigny Rd (now merged with 1) 11 Dec 1878 Towner / Denman
3 D'Aubigny Rd (towards SW end26 Mar 1879 Towner
D'Aubigny Rd (now No. 6 towards SE end ) 28 Oct 1879 Phillips / Denham

Note:  houses re-numbering on 20 April 1881
Additions to 1 D'Aubigny Rd 21 Sep 1883: e.g. porch to south
8, 10 & 12 D'Aubigny Rd 7 Jun 1894 3 houses Sattin&Evershed / Bullock
14 D'Aubigny Rd station master's house 16 May 1895 / London Brighton & South Coast Railway / Coo.

Note that The Cats Creep was originally a steep hill called Lennox Road, laid out for building in 1862 and still under construction in 1869. The Round Hill Park Estate plan suggest an intention to build a house on the west side facing Lennox Road, but difficulties of access necessitated a change of plan. The hill proved too steep to get a cab down. The 1891 population census still shows Nos 8, 6, 4 and 2 Richmond Road as empty buildings. No 10 is William Tidey's laundry from 1894 with a large drying field behind the empty buildings extending to the Cats Creep.  This laundry moved to 20 (now 22) Crescent Road as Primrose Laundry in 1898. By 1900, the Cats Creep was known as Lennox Passage, but now it is the only street in Round Hill which hasn't got a name. Records at The Keep show that planning permission for steps within the Cats Creep (Lennox Road) was proposed in June 1898 and granted on 21st June 1900. The deeds of two plots of land (1880)-1917 between Wakefield Road, Cats Creep [formerly Lennox Road] and Roundhill Crescent, Brighton are also archived at The Keep. See:

Search My Brighton and Hove - for articles on Brighton streets:
Belton Road | Ditchling Road | Richmond Road | Roundhill Crescent | Upper Lewes Road | Wakefield Road

7. Search wills & probate 1858-1996

Search old wills: for example, if you know that James Stapleton, the occupant at Princes Villa, 2 Crescent Road Brighton, died in 1892

The summary info can be viewed free, though the detailed info requires payment.

8. Search for listed buildings on historicengland.org.uk

Enter a particular street such as "Roundhill Crescent' and view
search results.

9 Search Brighton and Hove City Council's List of Heritage Assets A-Y

Go to www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/planning/heritage/local-list-heritage-assets and click on a letter A-Y, which may be the initial letter of a building, place or street. Note that this is not the same as the National List i.e. the records of listed buildings for which Historic England is responsible.

Note too: Specific thematic criteria have been produced for street lighting (PDF 1.2MB) and letterboxes [PDF 478kb] .

10 Websites & meetings of conservation societies

Brighton History

Brighton Streets

The Kemp Town Society - Kemp Town is the estate conceived and built by the visionary Thomas Kemp from 1823 until 1850.

The Brighton Society aims to conserve and improve the amenities of Brighton & Hove. Members encourage the preservation of architecturally and historically interesting buildings, and value the individual character of local neighbourhoods with their particular look and feel.

Regency Square Area Society- read about Central Brighton's squares.

The Regency Society- involves itself in Brighton and Hove's controversial planning proposals.

The Stanmer Preservation Society was founded in 1971 and is a charity committed to improving, protecting and preserving the village of Stanmer and its environment for the benefit of the public.

11 Search collections of photos and film

12. Royal Pavilion & Museums   
      Digital Media Bank

Royal Pavilion & Museums Digital Media Bank makes its digitised collections and other assets available to download and share. These include art works, photographs and newspapers related to Brighton & Hove, and images and other media depicting its collections.

Re-use of this material is permitted under the terms of a Share Alike - Attribution (BY-SA) Creative Commons licence. This means that all use is permitted providing:

  1. The content is appropriately credited. This is usually the 'Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove' but is clarified in the Rights Info information that accompanies each item.
  2. Any content which re-uses this material is offered for re-use on the same shareable terms ie. it should not be charged for.

Another portal to locak history sites is the West Sussex Past page now on WSCC's website.

-----© Ted Power