There was a time, probably in the years leading up to 1980, when you could do the weekly shop in Gardner Street, Brighton.

It had ordinary shops such as greengrocers and in later years there was an early Tesco supermarket where Komedia stands today.

Now Gardner Street is part of North Laine and is totally different. It is full of trendy shops and cafes. Hardly any of the old household shops have survived.

Mind you, Gardner Street was always a little odd even then. Among its curiosities was the cork shop Beall and Co Founded in 1883.

Rigorously unchanging, it just about staggered through to its centenary before closing and the frontage was immediately acquired by Brighton Museum.

There was another shop which only sold eggs and a third which specialised in coffee, quite unusual for those days.

For much of its life, North Laine was a working class area which had a fair amount of industry as well as housing. It was not considered to be in any way remarkable.

In the 1970s, there were plans to bulldoze some of it to provide a new access road to a huge car park. After approving this scheme, the then Brighton Council changed its mind.

Planning Officer Ken Fines suggested North Laine should be made into a conservation area and the name came from the old field pattern.

This engendered a community spirit which manifested itself in the shape of a community association and another for traders.

Now The North Laine Book has been launched to give a history of the area and a look at the area as it is today.

Local historians such as Dr Sue Berry and Dr Geoffrey Mead have provided the framework for North Laine’s story while reminiscences by local people fill in the gaps.

They remember the schools and theatres which once adorned North Laine and which have now largely gone.

Among the businesses for many years was the Argus and six days a week its vans would leave the printing works in Robert Street to deliver papers all over Sussex.

It is strange for anyone who worked there to see the old building transformed into flats and food outlets.

The houses of North Laine were mainly small and terraced but there were some grander ones in Pelham Square.

Some of them lacked modern amenities such as electricity until the 1920s and it could be noisy in some roads, notably Upper Gardner Street with its market and the 18 horses belonging to the removal firm Durtnalls.

North Laine still has its problems. The streets were not built for cars and there is constant pressure by large firms to take over some of the neighbourhood shops. House prices have soared beyond the reach of many local people.

But North Laine has a mixture that works and as a tourist attraction it is now more popular than the historic Lanes on the other side of North Street.

The North Laine Book is published by Brighton Town Press at £12.99.