North Laine History

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Foundry Street

The Foundry represented a major centre of production and it seems that small business workshops were quick to spring up along its eastern side thereby starting the development of the road proper; as tradesmen took advantage of the commercial opportunity to supply goods and services that were often, but not necessarily, allied to or associated with the Foundry’s primary business. As the street gradually developed, it appears that these basic artisan’s workshops were slowly replaced in an ad hoc manner by warehouses, formal workshops and residential tenements, where and when the space became available.


Foundry Street developed during the 1840s in a piecemeal fashion, over time, as a mixture of residential and commercial premises. The east side remained largely residential, once established, but the west side of the street appears to have become predominantly industrial and commercial during the mid-to-late 19th. It might be assumed that the houses in Foundry Street were built with the intention of housing foundry workers. However, the evidence in census returns from the mid-19th century onwards suggests that this may not have wholly been the case.  There are indeed smiths and iron labourers among the occupations listed in the returns, but there are also shoemakers, porters, laundry workers, carpenters and bricklayers’ labourers amongst the range of workers listed as residents. 


At one time or another, commercial interests have included the foundry itself, as well as a bone mill and rag warehouse at No. 28, William Smith’s Patent Lead Pipe Works and Marine Store Warehouse next door at No. 27 and the stores at Nos 33 and 34. 


Further along at No. 35, Messrs. Walter & Lynn kept stables and a delivery van shed that also contained stoves for bacon smoking - an activity that might appear to have been run as a sideline, but was in fact central to their main business as Wholesale Grocer and Provision Merchants.  In circumstances that would make an Environmental Health Officer’s hair stand on end, these stoves were originally only a few feet away from the horses and dung (a plan and elevation of their original premises are reproduced immediately below as Figs. 5 and 6). When Walter & Lynn submitted a proposal to rebuild in 1895, the new structure (today numbered 35, 35a & 36) included a fine ornamental pediment containing the initials W&L (subsequently defaced) and, thankfully, no facilities for curing bacon. The street has also been host to electroplaters, scrap iron merchants, tool grinding and boring specialists, leather processing merchants, weighing machine manufacturers and van and coachbuilders.


8 Foundry St

The former Walter & Lynns

36 Foundry St