Tuesday 8 February 2011

The Royal Albion: then & now

The Royal Albion Hotel was built by Amon Henry Wilds on the site of Dr. Russell's house, following its demolition in 1823. Brighton had been offered the site as a dedicated open space which would have extended the Valley Gardens to the seafront. Had this opportunity not been missed, due to dithering by the Town Council, visitors approaching by road would have been offered a much more dramatic encounter with the sea. Instead the Royal Albion was built and quickly became very important in the cultural life of the town. It was subsequently extended westward and later incorporated the Lion Mansion Hotel on the east side of Pool Valley. 

After many alterations, different owners, fluctuations in fortune, and a serious fire in 1998,  it survives to the present. 
Elsewhere in the photo it is intriguing to note that the modern electric lamp standard in the distant right of the picture appears to occupy the identical position to that of the early triple-armed gas lamp. This is probably explained by the practice, in the early days of electric street-lighting, of pulling the cables through the existing gas pipes, thus minimising the amount of excavation needed.

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