Thursday 24 March 2011

Brighton Centre revamp

The Brighton Centre, designed by Russell Diplock, was opened in 1977 on the site of a terrace of Victorian buildings demolished in 1958.  These included the ornate & lavishly decorated 1912 Palladium cinema  on the corner of Russell Street, now also obliterated except for a short unremarked length running north  from Russell Road and acting as a service road for Churchill Square.

Before the Churchill Square/Seafront development there was no Russell Road, just Russell Street and Lower and Upper Russell Streets. Lower Russell Street was subsumed into Russell Road: a small section of Upper Russell Street still exists running from top of Cranbourne Street to Western Road.

Considered in isolation the Brighton Centre is not a bad building, it has certainly been functionally successful, but its design has been criticised as "lacking wit" for a place like Brighton and being unsympathetic to its surroundings. It is of an alien colour and has over-strong "horizontals" compared with the rest of the historic seafront.

Like many other Brighton projects, a £400M redevelopment scheme, seems to have been deferred indefinitely. This included a plan to link Churchill Square with the Centre, presumably by a pedestrian bridge over Russell Road, and then by escalators down to Kings Road, thus restoring the access once provided by Russell Street and substantially increasing the footfall to both venues.

For the time being it seems we must be satisfied with a mere £1M pound revamp. The Council has made an application (BH2011/00442) for alterations to the front entrance lobby and doors, including new glazing to the underside of the canopy and for an extension at third floor level onto the existing balcony.

Russell St. looking north. 1905

Read more in the Argus


  1. Just wondering if there are any photos in existence of Upper Russell Street, as my great-grandparents kept a boarding house at Number 6 at the end of the 19th/start of 20th century.

    Not sure if this is the right area to make this sort of query but I've drawn blanks over the past couple of years since I started to research my Brighton family following the discovery of my great-uncle's grave just outside Ypres. G-grandmother (Jane Pullinger) was named as next-of-kin on g-uncle's military will. I can be contacted on e-mail if anyone out there can help. Thanks in anticipation - Pat


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