Monday, 31 May 2010

Hove Carnival

For the three previous years in succession the annual May Carnival organised by Hove Lions in Hove Park has been rained-off. Today the weather was dry with an occasional glimpse of sunshine, but not too hot to tempt people to the beach, and, as if to make up for previous years, people turned up in their hundreds. The atmosphere was good, spirits were high and, if the length of the queue at the beer tent was anything to go by (it usually is), it seems to have been a very successful event.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Brighton Blasphemy Society

This new society held its first meeting on 19th May. Its goals are:-

"To resist the forces, of religion and state, that seek to curb our freedoms of thought and speech.
We consider all religious dogmas, political ideologies, and the like to be fair game for criticism, ridicule and satire."

Sounds reasonable to me.
It has a Facebook group here, and the contact email is:- polesapartstilts@ntlworld. com

The Dome Foyer opens up . .

The ceiling of the Dome Foyer decorated for the Festival.

Following the success of this venue (which was once the Central Library) during the Festival, it is now to open to the public from 10am – 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday, and Bank Holiday Mondays including 31st May. The Foyer bar is linked with Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and these doors will be open – so you can visit two spectacular venues at once!

Friday, 28 May 2010

A New School for Hove


Announcing a Public Meeting at the Connaught Centre at 1pm on 7th June.

An ePetition has also been posted on the City Council's website :-

"We the undersigned petition the council to lease or buy Connaught School, Hove from City College Brighton, and to immediately return it to Infant School use. Further, in view of its size & capacity, we urge BHCC to consider taking it into Infant Primary use as well in order to provide the continuity so highly valued by parents at Davigdor/Somerhill and at the C of E St. Andrews School. This 125 year-old purpose-built school was taken out of infant school use in the 1970's when pupil numbers fell. City College are now taking it out of its current adult education use; and the future of this Grade 2 Listed school building is now at issue. Any newbuild school will take years to achieve elsewhere, and the current strategy of add-ons is robbing other schools of playspace which is to be resisted."

So far it has 39 signatories.

Brighton Beach in the 19th century

This postcard of Brighton Beach between the Piers shows the typical Brighton 'hogboats' with all sails set. These seem to have favoured yawl rig and had transoms designed to deflect following waves when running ashore. They were beamy fishing boats which turned to providing joy-rides for holiday makers during the summer, the most famous being the "Skylark". Motor driven versions, and small rowed versions like the one seen in the middle distance, were still operating up to the mid-20th century. In the latter case the boat was propelled by a single fisherman rowing from the forward thwart while up to 4 passengers sat in the stern. If there was anything of a swell running it took quite a mixture of skill and luck to disembark them in a reasonably dry condition.

The conspicuous dark building on the left is situated at the corner of West Street. The card was presumably reproduced from a hand-tinted original by an artist who had never visited Brighton seafront.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Boating Pool

The simple pleasures of the yesteryear when people paid good money to float about on a stretch of dirty-looking water smaller than a tennis court. This photo must have been taken before Embassy Court was built in 1935. The 2 storey villa Western House that it replaced can just be made out in the distance beyond the Norfolk Hotel. The boats were propelled by hand-operated paddle wheels. Later-on they were replaced by motorboats which had very low-revving two stroke engines and which chugged around at less than a walking pace. Consequently they had hardly any steerage-way on them but at that speed it hardly mattered.

Note the elegant lamp standard on the extreme left. These were placed at intervals along this section of the lower promenade.  I believe they were made of bronze and that at least some survived WW2. Whether they would have survived the modern tribes of urban plunderers is doubtful. In any case they were long ago replaced with ugly utilitarian  lengths of galvanised scaffold poles surmounted with plasticky lamps which are no longer operational. These can be seen in the modern photo below:-

Friday, 21 May 2010

Before I sleep . . .

This Festival production by Brighton-based Company 'dreamthinkspeak' is a truly wonderful flight of the theatrical imagination. It is being staged, if that is the right word for a promenade performance, in the abandoned Art Deco Cooperative building in London Road. At roughly ten minute intervals small groups of ticket-holders start their tour in the basement and guiding themselves by isolated pools of light in the darkened corridors they gradually progress through all three floors of the magically transformed building. By means of live action, film, sound and modelled landscape the subjects of loss & change are explored with reference to the characters of Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" and perhaps to Brighton's loss of a much-loved department store, the last one of its kind in the City . . .

In addition to the unique theatrical experience, it gives Brightonians the opportunity for nostalgic glimpses of the interior of the building and the fine decorative features that yet remain.

The production  was originally scheduled to finish on May 23rd but because of its well-earned success this has been extended to June 13th. Not to be missed.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The 'Save Saltdean Lido' Campaign update

On Monday 17th May at the second of the three public meetings called by the leaseholder (Denis Audley) he stated that during the 10 years of his lease the number of tickets sold had dropped from 15,000 p.a. to 1000 p.a. today. He attributed this to bad summer weather particularly during the holiday month of August, but the audience was more inclined to blame poor facilities and poor maintenance. A full survey of the premises in 2007 had costed the structural repairs needed at £800K. DA claims that these repairs are the responsibility of the Council and there is no point in decorating the premises until they are carried out.
The Council represented at the meeting by Cr Linda Hyde, Chair of the Planning Committee and Cr David Smith also on the Planning Committee emphatically denied that repairs were the Council's responsibility. Cr Smith stated that a 146 notice requiring repairs had been served on Mr Audley. They also stated that the Council had never considered this site for residential purposes. Cr Hyde said that urgent consideration was being given to preparing a planning brief for the site.

DA's design consultants Camplan, represented at the meeting by Mark Strawbridge had costed the residents "wish list" for the site plus renovation at £4M . The extent to which residents' wishes can be catered for is dependent on the number of residential units that will be allowed and this is still under discussion with Council planning officers. The number 80 suggested by Camplan has been deemed unacceptable by the Council. Mr Strawbridge showed drawings of the Lido with a 5 storey residential development situated behind it. This was not too unsympathetic in layout but the height was a matter of contention and Camplan's position was not helped by some very strange scaling on a side elevation.

On the whole Mr Audley now seems to be very much on the back foot in this affair and, this being the case, it was embarrassing that some residents chose to descend to personal attacks. It is completely irrelevant where Mr Audley lives or that, like most of us, he is "only interested in money".

Amex and Carlton Hill

A view looking southwest from near the top of Carlton Hill before the Amex redevelopment work started.  Part of Carlton Hill is in a conservation area.
Brighton & Hove News reports here on a coming meeting of the Residents Liaison Group to discuss the Amex plans. This will take place next Wednesday at 7pm at Carlton Hill Primary School.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

'Speaker flowers'

The most photogenic of Brain Eno's Festival installations in different rooms of Marlborough House, Old Steine. An array of glitter balls illuminated with a single spot casts 'petals of light' around the room and on a matrix of mini-speakers hooked-up to an amplifier. It is not clear how the spots of light influence the speakers or even if they do.

Marlborough House, which is Grade I listed, is otherwise unoccupied and the owner lives abroad. It seems in rather better condition than it did a few years ago and the smell of damp has gone. Its long-term future seems to rely on finding an appropriately prestigious occupier but the chances of that in the present economic climate cannot be good.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Record numbers at Brighton museum

City Council press release:-
Brighton Museum has had more visitors than ever before, figures for last year show.

The council-run attraction had 233,000 visitors – up from 196,000 the year before.  The previous record was in 2004/5 when 227,000 attended.

Extended Sunday opening, which started last September accounted for 5000 extra visitors.  Council bosses say other factors increasing the museum’s popularity have been a new permanent Egyptian gallery and an exhibition about wartime Land Girls over the winter.

Hove museum also increased visitors from 35,000 to 40,000.  The success was partly attributed to the popular Precious exhibition showcasing work by contemporary artists who have recycled discarded materials to create new artworks.

The Royal Pavilion increased numbers by almost 7,000 from 276,128 to 283,093.

Cabinet councillor in charge of museums David Smith said:  “We’re all really pleased people are appreciating the museums.  Both Hove and Brighton have improved beyond recognition in recent years.  They also have some very clever staff who have put on some really imaginative exhibitions.  That seems to be reflected in these figures.”  

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Brighton Morris Men . . .

 . . helping to keep England's heritage & traditions alive in Jubilee Street. And jolly good they are too. At the beginning of the last century morris dancing had almost died out but, by the efforts of a few English folklorists, it managed to survive and there was a big surge of interest in the 70's. There are now over 14,000 morris dancers nationwide and 'sides' all over the world.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Tea Cosy to get new owner

The Argus reports here that David Daly has sold the iconic Tea Cosy in George Street, Kemp Town, and will serve his last customers there on May 24.

BIDD plaque unveiled

Danny Sheldon House, Eastern Road where today a plaque was unveiled commemorating the Brighton Institute for the Deaf & Dumb  which stood on this site from 1848 to 1941. This was the first special school for the deaf & dumb in Sussex and the plaque was unveiled by a former pupil who left the school before 1939.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Falmer Stadium

View of the slowly-materialising stadium from the University of Brighton playing field.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

'Save Saltdean Lido' - Public Meeting

'CAMPLAN' the designers of the scheme & Mr Audley, the lease owner of the site, are now holding a PUBLIC MEETING this SUNDAY 16th May at 7pm at the community centre. They will be taking questions and also showing their latest plans. Please try to make it & spread the word!!

The Keep

East Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and the University of Sussex are planning to build a £19m, state-of-the-art, historical resource centre near Falmer.
Named appropriately the 'Keep' it will  provide a secure home for all the archives and historical resources of East Sussex and Brighton & Hove, and the Special Collections of the University of Sussex, including the internationally  renowned Mass Observation Archive. The building will also include the library and headquarters of the Sussex Family History Group.

Depending on what historical resources you are consulting and where you live the location at Falmer will obviously be more convenient for some, less so for others. There is no one ideal location for a facility like this, but considerable work has already started which will make local access to the site as user-friendly as possible. The current  progress is illustrated and described on the accompanying page "Access to the Keep".

As part of a public consultation on the Keep, an  information event will be held at the Jubilee Library in Brighton on Wednesday 26 May, from 2pm to 9pm. The Keep Survey forms are available now at the Library and have be returned by 28th May to your local library or handed in at the information event on 26th May.  Information is also available in local libraries.

For queries about the Survey email; wendy.walker@eastsussex.gov.uk.

The Keep is scheduled to open for use in 2013.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Deaf Culture Day

The first special school of its kind in Sussex for the Deaf & Dumb was sited in Eastern Road, Brighton on the site now occupied by Danny Sheldon House. It operated here from 1848 to 1941.


As part of the Deaf Culture Day on Saturday 15th May a Blue Plaque commemorating this fact will be unveiled on Danny Sheldon House at 11am. The unveiling will be performed by 2 old pupils  who both left the school before 1939.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

But is it Art?

This pair of abandoned boots outside the "Seven Stars" this morning called to mind the Rene Magritte painting, and then the further thought that I might be looking at a Brighton Festival artwork.

  Either that or someone had very cold toes by the time they got home last night.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Fringe mathematics

Brighton Festival seems to be finding new ways to challenge us, and not just in the artistic field. The fascinating structure that has appeared behind St.Peters to house the "Freerange" events is known as a "geodesic dome". At first glance the supporting lattice-work appears to be constructed of equilateral triangles but in fact this is not the case. Two slightly different sizes of triangle are used neither of them exactly equilateral. One size is used to form a number of slightly dished hexagons and the other size to fill in between them. The vertices lie approximately on great circles or "geodesics" of the dome's surface, hence the name.

Various attempts have been made to employ these domes for more permanent constructions around the world. It has been  suggested that if the same methods of mass production used in the car industry were also used for geodesic domes, everyone in the world could afford shelter.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Patcham Pete says thanks . . .

After many years of lobbying by residents the City Council has at last recognised the high  esteem in which Pete & his partner are locally held and has provided them with an  area of paving extending from the wall of the Black Lion  to well beyond the Fountain. Our pair much appreciate the increased security afforded by the raised kerb and have asked this blog to pass on their thanks to the Council.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

REGENCY Magazine

Of the many free magazines & news sheets available within the City, "REGENCY", published monthly, really stands out. It is one of those magazines that it is better to read in the hand than on the internet. It is 'glossy' and looks good, is attractively illustrated and laid out, and invariably includes one or more topical issues in some depth together with interesting articles from local contributors. Regular features include: What's on; Local News, and Letters to the Editor. It is edited by Tony Davenport.

Although free, REGENCY is careful to keep the space devoted to advertising below the critical level at which one automatically blanks them out. On this account alone, if I were a local advertiser, I would be keen to get my business or product included.

If I were not one of the 12,000 residents on the regular circulation list I would be hastening to find out where I could regularly pick one up.

Monday, 3 May 2010

The Sewing Machine Shop

Front, side and rear windows of this shop in East Street are entirely filled with arrays of antique sewing machines. So effective are they as a screen that, with a quick glance, it is difficult to make out what the shop is selling . In fact its stock has only the vaguest connection with the window display.  The British 'AllSaints Spitalfield' brand of clothing was launched back in 1994 and was named after All Saints Road in Notting Hill. It now has over 50 stores worldwide.

It seems ironic that a shop selling very expensive clothing decorates its premises with an item made redundant in its tens of thousands by the 20th century boom in cheap imported clothing .
Click on the photo for a larger picture.