The history of The Brighton Lanes hosts an eclectic mix of residents ranging from royalty to robbers. Cobbled streets weave and wind throughout the centre of the town making up the famous Brighton Lanes which these days, are usually filled with shoppers, sightseers and visitors from across the globe. Behind these bustling lanes lies a fascinating history of magic sea water, Indian inspired architecture and a network of secret underground passages.
Brighton was first placed on the map as an area of interest at around 1750 made famous by the belief that the sea water had powerful medicinal qualities. Dr Richard Russel, a doctor based in the nearby town of Lewes published a medical paper named ‘Glandular Diseases’, or ‘A Dissertation on the Use of Sea-Water in the Affections of the Glands'. It may not be the catchiest of titles but it solidified Brighton's reputation and its beach as a new famous and desirable destination.
Russel promoted the health benefits of both bathing in and drinking the sea water of Brighton. Russel claimed that consuming this water could eradicate tumours, promote healthy bowel movement, clear the head and even help to whiten teeth. Brighton sea water was even bottled and sold in London as ‘oceanic fluid'. Rusell's reputation was growing and so to were the number of visitors to Brighton. Wealthy people knows as ‘The Fashion’ from nearby towns Lewes, Tumbridge Wells and of course London began to relocate to Brighton as its popularity grew.
The growing numbers of visitors in Brighton led locals to diversify their trades and skills in some unusual ways. For example, many poorer fisherman became ‘dippers’ employed to help carry the new wealthy residents of Brighton to the shore and dip them in to the water. These days Londoners are thankfully now happy to do this themselves.
Brighton was re branded as an upmarket health resort and it was this new image that attracted one of the most famous names in Brightonian history, The Prince Regent.
The Prince’s presence in Brighton meant a soar in the City’s popularity. Brighton’s population grew significantly, from around 3,620 inhabitants in 1786 to 40,634 in 1831. The building of The Royal Pavillion created jobs for workers across Brighton for many years boosting Brighton’s popularity and economy.
Whilst much work went in to building the lavish and now iconic pavilion there was also a less ostentatious project taking place underground. A network of underground tunnels was gradually constructed allowing The Prince Regent an entirely private method of travel throughout the city from his central Palace to the Beach.
Above this network of secret passages was the hustle and bustle of the Brighton Lanes. It was here that fisherman seeking a more profitable income turned their attention to the world of antiques. The buying and selling of antique goods in the Brighton lanes continued and grew extensively over the years. By the 1960’s The Lanes was an established community of antique dealers and this area soon grew to be a famous hive of activity for everything antique.
These days only a few antique shops remain but the trade has evolved into a community of jewellers and the Brighton Lanes is now a labyrinth of stone cobbled streets glistening with shop windows filled with precious gems and sparkling diamond rings.
In 1979 Doug Newman established Gold Arts in the Brighton Lanes with a small shop and workshop where he manufactured and sold his own designs. Now with 40 years of experience and stores in Brighton, Eastbourne and Chichester Gold Arts is a well- respected name dealing in a selection of exceptional products ranging from sparkling diamond rings to quality watches. This timeless collection includes both pre-owned and new watches from some of the world most luxurious brands. Gold Arts also offer bespoke craftsmanship and services including restoration and original design from the Gold Arts workshop.
Whilst large parts of the Brighton Lanes have been modernised over the years the home of the Brighton Gold Arts store has kept its historic feel. Gold Arts is nestled in the heart of the Brighton Lanes in Meeting House Lane. This small part of the lanes was formerly known as ‘The Knab’ in the Seventeenth Century and this small courtyard features some of the oldest buildings in the Brighton Lanes.
Mr Newman believes that the secret of his success is his loyal and professional staff together with the recognition of good quality and maintaining a high level of customer service and satisfaction. His motto "The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten" has kept Gold Arts a purveyor of the finest jewellery in Sussex.