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In Your Street: Tidy Street, Brighton
Stargazers, transatlantic sailors and a fondness for the media – Tidy Street has it all.
On first inspection Tidy Street is a clean-looking, discreet little road that makes up part of North Laine, running north to south between Trafalgar Street and Gloucester Road.
It is believed the street was the site of farmland almost 200 years ago, with construction work for buildings only starting around 1830.
The name is derived from a former landowner at the time called Richard Tidy, who inherited property in 1755 from his uncle Richard Masters.
Today the street is home to a large number of families with young children. Out of the 52 houses on the road, 15 of them are home to babies and toddlers.
“It’s great for sharing childcare and babysitting duties,” said Mark Erickson, the street’s resident university lecturer.
He added: “It’s really nice because the kids all get together for events and parties, such as trick or treating last month. I stayed at home though to scare off the kids who knocked at the door. I don’t think there were as many children on the street a few years ago. Now it’s got a bit of a reputation for being home to a lot of offspring.”
All eyes were on Tidy Street in 2006 after taking part in Brighton’s Photo Fringe Festival. The road turned into a larger-than-life photo exhibition, with the residents’ windows and front doors showcasing intimate photographs linked to the people who lived behind them.
Hugo Butterworth took the chance to proudly show off the new addition to his family by showing a picture of his seven-month-old daughter Sylvie.
Veteran Tidy Street resident Heather Hacker used the front window of her house to display a photograph of herself aged four with her father in 1935.
She said: “It was a university student’s idea I think. She wanted to use the street as part of her project and she asked us all to find some photos.
“It was the only street in Brighton that had ever done anything like it and it certainly brought us some attention. The student spent her grant wisely. It looked lovely and it was interesting to see my neighbours’ pictures.”
The street hit the headlines again last year after residents agreed to collectively try to reduce their electricity consumption.
They were each given an energy saving monitor and asked to record how much energy they were using on a daily basis. Instead of writing the results down on a notepad, a local graffiti artist was hired to spray paint the road each week with the street’s statistics.
The project was set up by the Open University and took about three weeks to complete. Some of the residents recorded energy reduction of as much as 30% – an impressive contribution to the Green cause.
Behind the newspaper talk and public attention the street has attracted over the years, the residents of Tidy Street really are as community-minded as they appear to be.
A street party in 2007 brought new and old faces together for music, food and fun. The road was closed off, artificial turf was laid out for the children to play and memories were created.
Periodically since then various mini-parties and gatherings have taken place that are a testament to the street’s community spirit.
Evelyn Hunt, 76, has lived in the street for no less than 45 years and appreciates a good get-together.
She said: “It’s a nice community with great neighbours and we all help each other out with the little things, which is really important. This year I got a table outside the door and we had our own wine gathering in the street.
"A few new faces turned up and it was a good excuse to meet them and say hello and share a glass of the good stuff.”
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