Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Wall of Windows

At the University of Brighton in Grand Parade the Brooking National Collection is displaying four centuries worth of windows, ranging from a 17th century wrought-iron casement window from a Hampshire farmhouse,  to a 1960s window from the Tricorn Centre, Portsmouth, designed by Sir Owen Luder.  For the exhibition 68 key items were specially selected from the 500,000 items + that comprise the collection. They include a pine window from Windsor Castle designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville, a Gothic Revival window from the Tower of London and details associated with well-known figures such as Sir Alfred Hitchcock and celebrated actor and playwright, David Garrick.

Charles Brooking at the official launch in Brighton

The remarkable Charles Brooking  is an architectural historian and consultant based in Cranleigh, Surrey. Collecting items since his boyhood, he established a small museum in his own home and, in 1985, created a Trust to preserve it for posterity. In 2013, it became a registered charity with the aim of preserving the physical detail of the UK’s built environment, and to demonstrate the craftsmanship involved as well as the social layering of British society.

Gothic Window Head.
Virginia Water 1884.
Steel, inward-opening, arrow-slit.
Portsmouth 1966.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Brighton & Hove Heritage Commission. It is open until 10th April and is well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in architectural history or amazing craftsmanship.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Mazda Fountain - Council statement

In its original setting in an ornamental lake the water level would have lapped the lip of the bowl and most of the unsightly boiler-plate cylinder would have been concealed. 
"The fountain’s presence in the city is something of an historical accident.  It was built by Thompson-Houston Ltd, a subsidiary of an American electricity company, for the British Empire Exhibition, 1924, staged around Wembley Stadium. 

It was moved to Brighton in 1930 when a new location was required.  It costs £8,000-£9,000 a year to run – roughly twice the cost of a modern replacement.  When working, it typically sprays water across a wide area because it was originally designed to sit in an ornamental lake.

The fountain was also originally to be illuminated by the General Electrics-branded Mazda light bulbs which give the fountain its name. Restoring lighting to the fountain is estimated to cost up to £30,000, and would add to maintenance and running costs."

In the forthcoming plans to enhance Valley Gardens water features would still play a key role. A new public square with integrated fountains to the south of St Peter’s church would aim to enhance its setting. New drinking fountains and restoration of the obelisk drinking fountain are also planned. A brook or ‘rill’ is is envisaged which would run south through the centre of the green spaces, hinting at the Wellesbourne, a seasonal river that once ran through the area. 

A sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS) would have features designed to collect and slowly release rainwater, reducing flash flooding associated with modern weather patterns. The rill and SUDs system would help support increased biodiversity in the centre of the city.

Councillors last week gave the go-ahead for the scheme to progress to technical design stage. Subject to further approvals, construction work could start in September.

See also: - Further thoughts on the Mazda fountain

More cash for City Roads.

The Local Transport Body of the Coast to Capital LEP has awarded the City £1.83 million to invest in improving the transport network. The aims will be to reduce congestion, improve road safety and enhance the management of traffic incidents. Dealing promptly with problems as they arrive will speed up journey times and reduce air pollution caused by queuing traffic,

The money will be spent on a range of technologies including traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and variable message signs for travel and car park information.

Total cost of the project is £2.1 million, with the remaining £300,000 coming from local contributions.

The Valley Gardens pheasant.

 17.15 on 27 March 2015
It's not an urban myth! There IS a pheasant in Valley Gardens.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Seafront repairs ongoing.

Repairs to a key part of Brighton’s seafront will go ahead thanks to a successful £9 million bid to the Department for Transport’s Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.

The council will now be able to carry out urgent reconstruction of the former West Street Shelter Hall, part of the historic Arches. Built in the 1880s this unusual building actually supports the upper promenade at the junction of the A259 and West Street, is in a very poor condition and needs to be replaced. A serious concern has been that a fully-laden HGV might inadvertently become diverted on to the promenade and cause a catastrophic collapse.

Councillors had already approved spending of £250,000 from the Local Transport Plan budget so that work could start as soon as possible on the reconstruction of the derelict Victorian hall. This will provide a great new seafront business location on the popular lower promenade as well as new public toilets.

The work will also allow the  busy West Street/King's Road junction to be remodelled to help people move and traffic flow more smoothly.

This much-needed cash injection  follows on from the £7m plus already invested in reconstruction of the arches around the i360 site. Ten restored Victorian seafront arches under the Kings Road were opened last year and funds from the latest Local Transport Plan will support Phase 2 of the Arches strengthening work, to the east of i360 site.

See also:- The lower promenade shelter hall