Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Brighton's Own Naval Hero

Brighton now has a blue plaque to its own 19th century naval hero. Admiral Codrington commanded the combined British, French & Russian fleets in 1827 for the last fleet action under sail. Our Edward was actually a very naughty boy. He was supposed to enforce a peaceful solution to the Greek War of Independence by blockading the Turkish and Egyptian fleets at Navarino but he interpreted this rather broadly. A drunken or careless sailor in the blockaded ships discharged a single musket shot and our Admiral chose to take this as an act of aggression. The Turks and Egyptians were engaged and their ships destroyed. ( I believe blockading duty could get pretty tedious. Perhaps he just wanted some home leave).

Anyway this put him into pretty bad odour with the British Government but earned the undying gratitude of the Greeks as it became the pivotal action in their long struggle for independence.

The Greek Ambassador unveiled the plaque at Codrington Mansions, 140 Western Road in the presence of the Mayor, members of the City's Commemorative Plaque panel and many local amenity societies. The unveiling was followed by a reception in the garden of Montpellier Hall.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Old Steine Cannon

During the 1940's, possibly earlier, an old iron cannon was parked on the grass at the north side of the south garden of Old Steine adjacent the crossover from Castle Square to St. James's Street. Probably from the Napoleonic era and designed to fire over a low parapet, it was raised high on an iron carriage with two smallish iron wheels at the front and skids at the rear.

I wonder if it was a relic of the seafront battery and what happened to it? Perhaps it went to the war effort and was melted down for armaments.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

When Brighton had three piers . . .

The Chain Pier in the foreground was destroyed by storm in 1896 and the Palace Pier, started in 1891, was a recognizable pier by then even though building progress had been slow. It wasn't opened to the public until 1899. So for a few years Brighton had three piers. On the distant West Pier one can make out the pavilion at the seaward end. This was added in 1893 so this photograph was taken sometime between 1893 and 1896.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Western House

This postcard from the early 1900's provides the best view I have come across of Western House, the private villa that once stood, where Embassy Court stands now, on the corner of Western Street and King's Road. It is the house on the extreme left of the picture and was well named, as it is actually the last house in Brighton when one travels west along King's Road. The Brighton-Hove boundary runs behind the houses on the western side of Western Street and so passes between Western House and the first house in Brunswick Terrace. In the 1850's Western House was occupied by Lady Hotham.

Embassy Court also took in the sites of nos. 1 to 4 Western Street, no.2 Western Street being the site of H.Buggins's Brunswick Baths. In 1857 the proprietors advertised that they were able to supply families 'with hot or cold sea-water in any part of the town', at a charge of 4d a bucket if hot, and 3d if cold. The sea-water was pumped to the baths by means of a steam engine.*
*'Life in Brighton' by Clifford Musgrave.

The photo below shows the same view as it is today.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Assisted dying - what is legal & what is not?

This was the title of an excellent talk given by Dr Michael Irwin at the Brighton & Hove Humanist Society on Wednesday evening. Dr. Irwin provided an interesting review of the history and the current situation as it exists internationally and in the UK. Other countries, e.g. Netherlands, and Switzerland, have tackled the ethical problems, and the legal frameworks they have established appear to be working satisfactorily.

Dr Irwin is currently under arrest (but bailed until Sept.30th.) for assisting in a suicide at the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland. The total cost of a suicide at Dignitas is estimated to be £4500. Dr Irwin donated £1500 towards this sum and accompanied the terminally-ill patient and his partner to Switzerland. On their return the partner was arrested but Dr Irwin had to challenge the police to arrest him which they eventually did.

The recent legal victory by Debbie Purdy (the MS sufferer) in the House of Lords means that the DPP now has to issue a policy on prosecuting these cases. Whether this policy survives the public consultation period in any helpful form remains to be seen. It is estimated that as many as 34 UK patients are currently waiting to travel to Dignitas. Certainly as long as the present British fudge exists it is only the wealthier Britons that will have any choice in the matter of their ending.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Heritage Open Days 2009

The national launch of Heritage Open Days 2009 took place this afternoon in the Jubilee Library, Brighton. The invitees were welcomed by the Mayor, Cr. Ann Norman. There then followed speeches by the Minister of Culture, Creative Industries & Tourism, Barbara Follett MP ; the Chair of English Heritage, Baroness Andrews, OBE,; the Leader of the City Council, Cr. Mary Mears; and the organiser of the local Open Days, Nick Tyson of the Regency Town House.

After an excellent "Regency tea" the invitees divided into 3 groups to enjoy guided tours of the North Laine, the Rare Books Room of the library and the Old Police cells in the basement of the Town Hall.