Sunday, 11 January 2015

Andy Durr

Last month Brighton lost a great Brightonian in Andy Durr. Labour Councillor and ex mayor of Brighton, University Lecturer,  Andy was more recently known as the founder of the Brighton Fishing Museum on the seafront where he spent much of his time.

I first met Andy when studying at Brighton Polytechnic whom Andy had been with since it was the Art School. He taught history on their M.A. in regional and local studies. Andy introduced me to much interesting local material, and inspired me to pursue my interests in this direction.

Andy was a down to earth character who combined a simple way of communicating with a bright intellect. He had much of his own education through trade unions and the labour movement, but was also a historian of design and saw much of his work as embracing Raymond Williams definition of culture, seeing the combination of the artistic and fishing quarter on the seafront as the realisation of a dream.

His funeral was attended by many people from all walks of life and political beliefs. His family and extensive network of friends will miss him as will the seafront.    
~ Trevor Hopper

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Conference Centre for Black Rock?

The Brighton Centre on King's Road, the City's main venue for conferences, exhibitions, shows, is not ideally placed. It occupies a prime seafront site that  would be better utilised for buildings that  take full advantage of the southerly aspect, i.e. the sea views and proximity to the beach. One would have thought that the station site would have been a better option for a multi-event centre likely to attract visitors from a wide area. 

However it is where it is and does have the advantage that attendees can arrive and leave in three different directions, north, east, and west and quickly access  a variety of modes of transport. It is now over 35 years old, and needs replacing, but the site at Black Rock proposed for its replacement does not enjoy even this limited advantage. The entire audience, which could be as much as 10,000, will all have to travel eastwards along the Madeira Drive as the first section of their journey home. One can imagine that, on a cold or wet winter's evening, not many will fancy a mile and a half stroll along the seafront in the face of the prevailing wind; so how is this number of people going to be transported?

One Councillor has airily mentioned "park & ride" yet it only requires a few quick calculations to show that in the worse case scenario it would take over a 100 double-decker buses, one leaving every 10 minutes, nearly 17 hours to transport a capacity audience away from a Black Rock venue. This is why the site is better suited to a use that attracts a smaller number of people over a longer time frame and who then depart over a longer time frame. This type of usage, such as hotels and leisure centres for example, in which the seafront location can be a positive asset, also avoids  heavy peaks in transport demand.  

Palace Pier to Black Rock
The Black Rock Site

Monday, 24 November 2014

A plaque to Sir Charles Barry

Charles Barry was apprenticed to Lambeth architects, Middleton & Bailey at age 15, did the Grand Tour, and set up on his own in the early 1820's when he received several commissions from the Church Building Commissioners. The last of these was St. Peter's, Brighton, in the Gothic Revival style. Concurrently with St. Peter's he was designing St. Andrew's (see above in Waterloo St. Hove) in the Italianate style. 

Unveiled by the City Mayor on 8th November 2014.

Brighton kept Barry very busy in the 1820's, reflecting its growing popularity as a seaside resort. He also designed the Attree Villa in Queen's Park, now demolished, and the Royal Sussex County Hospital, shortly to be demolished. St. Peter's and St. Andrew's, both grade I listed, will soon therefore be the only remaining examples of Barry's work in Brighton. He is said to have eventually taken a dislike to these early works.

Friday, 14 November 2014

The Stanmer Water Catcher

View looking west showing the section added in the 1890s
High in the woods to the north-west of Stanmer village are the grade II listed remains of a rare victorian water-catcher.  About 70 metres long and 12 metres wide it was built in 1870-5 to the design of Thomas Jones, estate foreman, to supply water for Stanmer House and the estate buildings. 

It is constructed of brick, cement and a mixture of tar and sand and was enlarged to the west in the 1890s. The brick divider between the sections can be seen above. The surface was coated with tar and sand in the 1930s. It was originally surrounded with timber walls carrying a slate roof from which rainwater was channeled down on to the surface of the catcher. Below the surface are three 1 metre deep tanks said to contain 40,000 gallons each. There is a gully along one side, an overflow at the north-east corner, and the remains of a filter system to the south end.

It was first listed in 1999. OS map ref. TQ 3335 0978.