The Model Dwellings, Church St
This block of flats, built in about 1852, was an attempt to provide improved housing for the poor at a time when there was increasing concern about the quality of housing and the prevalence of disease.
In London the Peabody Trust and other charities established homes for up to 150,000 and those behind the movement claimed it was possible to provide good quality housing at a reasonable profit. Tenants were provided with more space than their contemporaries, at a better rent and with better facilities (eg cooking range with water heaters, ventilated larders and sinks with draining boards).
However, the Model Dwellings movement did not catch on, for even though it was claimed it was possible to provide a 5% return on investment, this was not enough for many landlords.
The Model Dwellings at the corner of Church Street and Jew Street are a fine example of an apartment block built in the mid-Victorian period and must have made a vivid contrast to the courtyard dwellings opposite in Preece's Buildings. The building was built by the ‘Brighton Association for the ‘Improvement of the Industrious Classes’ of whom William Kebbell was chairman. Kebbell was a doctor who was much concerned about the condition of the working class in Brighton and who gave lectures in the town about the climate of Brighton and industrial conditions. His lectures were published as were his thoughts on how the climate helped Brighton’s reputation as a place for children to be brought up.
Below is the newspaper story announcing the proposals for the Model Dwelllings which were for fifteen flats, three on each floor, each flat to have a living room, two bedrooms, a scullery and a water closet.