Hereford Street

Photographs 1924-2015

By Jennifer Drury

Photo:Hereford Street photographed in1924
Photo:The backs of the south side of Hereford Street
Photo:Demolition and rebuilding going on at the same time
Photo:1927/28 demolition of houses on the south side of Hereford Street
Photo:Bomb damage in WWII - these houses were demolished c1952
Photo:Council houses built in 1952; also shows Willett's malthouse
Photo:1974 and four houses being demolished; also showing Hereford Court flats
Photo:Hereford Street photographed in 2015

Claim to fame

Hereford Street's main claim to fame is that in 1894 it was the birthplace of a certain Thomas Henry Sargent. Of course he was to become known as Max Miller 'The Cheeky Chappie', who was widely regarded as the greatest stand-up comedian of his generation. At the time of his birth the area contained some of the worst slums; these were as bad as any to be found in London or the industrial north.

Did you ever live in this street? Please share your memories by posting a comment below

Back to back houses

The photograph taken in 1924 was an early morning winter shot of this poor and depressing slum. It shows the houses on the north side of the street, looking towards Bedford Street. The protruding poles from the houses were used as clothes lines; the tiny backyards did not provide enough space. The photograph which shows the backs of the houses also shows the flint wall which separated the 'back to back' houses; there was a mere six foot between each house and the wall.

WWII bomb damage

On the left of the photograph dated 1927/28, some of the newly built council houses can be seen. Built very cheaply at a time of financial stringency in 1925/26, they were among the poorest houses ever built for Brighton Corporation. Many were destroyed by bombs in WWII and subsequently demolished. Replacement Council houses were built c1952 and Hereford Court flats built on the site of Willett's malthouse.

This gallery was added by Jennifer Drury on 01/06/2015.
Comments about this page

Hereford Street appears in the annual reports of the Brighton Medical Officer for Health [MOH], now held at The Keep, Falmer. The MOH report of 1925 giving the picture for 1924, has on page 36 a list of housing to be erected and those completed for 1924. Hereford St had 15 to be erected but none completed. The 1926 report gave the list of most densely populated UK towns and Brighton came second after West Ham, but denser than South Shields, Sunderland and Salford! Hereford St appears again in MOH 1930 when 20 new council houses were erected. These are items from notes made many years ago for my thesis on Brighton interwar housing. I will do more in-depth work on the MOH papers at The Keep on my next visit

By Geoffrey Mead (03/06/2015)

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