Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Duncan Grant in Brighton

Duncan Grant, 1885 - 1987, painted "Brighton Pier & boats" in 1938. It seems to be his only work with a Brighton subject, notwithstanding that he lived not too far away at Charleston, East Sussex. The painting  is interesting in that it shows two of the old wooden windlasses which adorned the beach and were still in occasional use, until the mid 20th century. They were gradually supplanted by manual iron winches. Eventually a powered winch under a green painted steel cover was supplied by the Council and the wooden windlasses disappeared. The large wooden hog boats, such as the one shown in the background, fitted with inboard motors, remained in use somewhat longer, fishing in the winter and providing tourist trips in the summer. 
Duncan Grant




The painting is believed to have been originally in the collection of Edward Le Bas who bequeathed it to Eardley Knolleys owner of the Storran Gallery, London. From Eardley it would have passed to the picture framer and lover of EM Forster, Mattei Radev and thus become part of the important Radev Collection.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Council checks Saltdean Lido


Officers from the council’s conservation team recently visited the Saltdean Lido, which is on English Heritage's "At Risk" register, to assess its condition.  They are now considering next steps forward.  Options include serving a notice on the operator requiring repairs to be made.  Non-compliance with such a notice could lead to compulsory purchase of the leasehold interest.

A new Brighton & Hove City Council report also signals that the authority, which owns the building, would be willing to take back the lease if suitable terms could be agreed.

The authority as landlord has already served a legal notice on the leaseholder in May 2010 requiring a list of repairs to be made.  There is currently a dispute between the council, which owns the freehold of the building, and the leaseholder about the extent to which this has been done and the quality of repairs. 

The council is also set to introduce a new monitoring regime to ensure the leaseholder regularly opens the pool to the public.

Alleged infrequent opening and the condition of the building have been the focus of a local campaign and a petition which prompted a council debate last month.

Cabinet councillor for culture Geoffrey Bowden said:  “At the same time as pursuing the legal route over the state of the building, we’re now seeking an official view from our conservation experts.  I’m expecting this will strengthen our hand.”

While campaigners have been demanding the council withdraws the lease, council lawyers say a court is unlikely to support such a move unless and until negotiations with the lessee have broken down.

Councillor Bowden added:  “I completely share campaigners’ frustration but for now we must pursue other ways of keeping the pressure on the leaseholder to repair the building and open it regularly.  We want a vibrant, accessible Lido that plays a full part in the life of the local community and city as a whole.”

A report updating the position is expected to go to the next of Councillor Bowden’s regular decision-making meetings on December 6.

See also:- Save the Saltdean Lido Campaign - latest

Save the Saltdean Lido Campaign- latest


The Save Saltdean Lido Campaign today announced a series of emergency community meetings to take place on Sunday 4 December at St Nicholas Church Hall, Saltdean Vale at 2.15pm, 3.30pm, 5.00pm & 6.15pm.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the meetings which will give local residents and other interested people a chance to discuss a report about the lido site which Brighton and Hove Council are issuing on Monday 28 November.

This report, which will outline the key issues and options available to the Council, will be discussed by the Culture, Recreational and Tourism Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 6 December.  Ms Crook, the Chair of the Lido campaign, has been invited to speak for three meetings at this meeting as have the Saltdean Residents’ Association, the Saltdean Community Association and Dennis Audley, the leaseholder of the site.

On December 4 the Save Saltdean Lido campaign will discuss the options which council officials have laid out in the report and raise a number of other urgent issues regarding the site.  It is intended to continue its policy of fully involving the community to secure a clear mandate for action.

Last month, at the Full Council Meeting of Brighton and Hove Council, the Save Saltdean Lido campaign group presented a petition signed by almost 3,000 people which asked the Council to commence urgent proceedings and pro-active action against the current lease-holder of Saltdean Lido to maintain the building and comply fully with the terms and conditions of the lease.  The petition went on to state that if there is failure of compliance, signatories immediately expect the Council to revoke the lease with forfeiture.

The Campaign group have stated that the pool was not open daily this Summer as the lease states and neither has the building been maintained to a satisfactory standard to provide sufficient community facilities.
See also:- http://www.saltdeanlidocampaign.org/

Last previous post:- Saltdean Lido put on "At Risk" register

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Level Enhancement Project - latest

Plans to demolish the gardeners mess room, shown above, and build a new café and toilet facilities on The Level have been given the go-ahead as the council waits to hear whether its Heritage Lottery Funding Bid has been approved.

The proposed café development, shown below, also includes cycle parking and facilities for parks staff and rangers.

The modern, environmentally friendly building has been designed to enhance the park with glass on three sides, solar panels and a grass roof. It has plenty of space for wheelchairs and buggies and kitchens big enough to cook fresh meals. Toilets will include wheelchair accessible units along with changing facilities for adults with disabilities and an attendant’s room. The café and toilets would be open all year round.

Earlier this year the council bid for funding for The Level proposals from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund through their ‘Parks for People’ grant scheme. News of whether funding has been granted is expected to be announced in January. The £2.1 million scheme would see the Level totally transformed into a welcoming, safe and attractive open space. (From a Council press release.)


Earlier posts:-
Heritage Fund bid submitted for the Level
The Brighton Society & the Level Enhancement Project
View of the Level

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The New England Quarter playground - latest.

In April this year developer McAleer and Rushe Group and landowners Albion Inns Ltd and Cookstown Developments Ltd, after withdrawing their appeal, were given six months to provide the much needed playground on Block K of the station site, see previous post

The playground has failed to materialise within the allotted time and the City Council has instigated legal action which will be heard in Brighton Magistrates Court on December 8th. 

Councillor Phelim MacCafferty says “We are extremely disappointed that the developers have continued to ignore requests to provide this much needed facility for families living in the area.  . . Failing to comply with the enforcement notice has left us with no alternative but to take legal action.”

It will be interesting to hear the developer's excuses . . . . 

The full press release may be read here.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Breakfast in Brighton

This large oil painting measuring 5 ft high was the undoubted hit of the 1995 'Brighton Revealed' exhibition where it dominated one wall of Brighton Art Gallery and later became the part inspiration for a quirky book of the same name by Nigel Richardson. It was painted c.1950 by Edward Le Bas who had travelled and painted a lot on the continent and, because of this, an imaginative art dealer originally named the painting 'Breakfast in Majorca'. In fact it shows a scene in the front room of a house in Clifton Terrace, Brighton, looking out over the private gardens towards the since decapitated Metropole Hotel and the sea. The way Le Bas has captured the light flooding over the table is genius, although from the direction of the shadows it appears to have been a rather late breakfast.

Another painting c.1952 by Le Bas entitled "Brighton from Clifton Terrace" appears to be from an upper room situated towards the Dyke Road, eastern end, of the terrace, as it shows the corner of the italianate villa, 43 Dyke Rd, then occupied by Clark's Secretarial College. A possible candidate for the viewpoint of this painting is 6 Clifton Terrace, a guest house at that time. Both the above paintings are in private ownership. 

Le Bas was born in 1904, educated at Harrow, Cambridge University and the Royal College of Art and started to exhibit at the Royal Academy from about 1930. He met Duncan Grant and the Bloomsbury Group in the 1940's and was elected to the London Group in 1942. By 1955 he had become a Royal Academician and in 1957 was awarded a CBE. By this time he had amassed an extensive collection of 20th century paintings which were the subject of a special exhibition at the RA in 1963. His relative early death in 1966 was attributed to heavy drinking.


The only Edward Le Bas in the Brighton Museum collections is the delightful "The Bedside Table", c.1940, which is currently on display in the Art Gallery.


Today some of Le Bas' paintings have values in the order of £20,000. 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Victoria Fountain - now & then



The Victoria Fountain is pure 'Brighton'. It was financed partly by Sir John Cordy Burrows, Brighton's first Mayor and partly by local public subscription; it was designed by Brighton's regency architect Amon Henry Wilds, modelled by Brighton sculptor William Pepper, cast in the Eagle Foundry in Gloucester Road, and the Brighton dolphins forming its base were mounted on a collection of sarsen stones dug up in the Old Steine in 1823. It has rightfully been grade II listed along with the Royal Pavilion since the listing scheme was first introduced in 1952.


It was inaugurated in 1846, to mark Queen Victoria's 27th. birthday, with a ceremony at which a band played the "The Fountain Quadrilles", specially composed by local musician Charles Coote. In 1990 the top part was removed for restoration and, on completion in 1995, was inaugurated by Prince Charles. The whole fountain was given a further makeover for the Millenium celebrations and it seems to have been getting regular maintenance ever since.



The circular cascades between the basins, which form such an attractive feature, especially viewed against the light, appear to have been a recent innovation. Early photos show individual jets arcing down from the rims of the upper basins and others arcing up from the bottom one.





Some more about the fountain & comments about William Pepper here:- My Brighton & Hove: the Victoria Fountain

Friday, 18 November 2011

Medina House, Hove, reprieved again

A little piece of old Hove seafront lives on. Globe Homes' December 2009 application to demolish was refused in December 2010 and their appeal against this decision was refused by the Council earlier this month. 

Go to amyfrankiesmith's blog for an excellent article and photos on the history of Medina House.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Protecting quiet spaces in the City

Environmental Protection UK ( a Brighton-based charity for local environmental quality issues - http://www.environmental-protection.org.uk/) and Brighton and Hove City Council are working towards finding open space that can be identified and designated as 'quiet areas' in terms of absence of noise from road traffic, railways, aircraft and industry etc. (This is to meet the requirements of ongoing national and European obligations to identify and protect quiet open spaces).

To achieve this it is intended to involve users of the City's open spaces by face-to-face surveys in selected parks during October/November, and also by means of an online survey. If you enjoy our parks and open spaces, and would like to help to identify and retain peaceful areas for relaxation in Brighton & Hove you are invited to complete the survey at:- http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/quietspacebrightonhove (It only takes about 5 minutes)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The National Planning Policy Framework



The Brighton Society has responded in detail to the Draft National Planning Policy Framework circulated by the Government and its conclusions are summarised below:-




  1. Remove the presumption in favour of development. This will address the majority of our reservations.
  2. Remove the misleading expression ‘sustainable development’ Just call it development. Or come up with another description for the definition set out in paragraph 9.
  3. Set out a reasonable and realistic timetable within which Local Authorities can prepare and finalise their Local Plans in conjunction with their local community before ANY of the policies contained in the NPPF become mandatory.
  4. Provide a failsafe mechanism if deficiencies in the Local Plan lead to patently detrimental consequences to the local environment and the wishes of the local community.
  5. Give the local community a greater say in the formulation of Local Plans free from development targets – because that is what they are.
  6. Ensure that there are procedures and safeguards so that local communities are given the time and facilities to make a real contribution to planning policies in their local areas.
  7. Issue guidance to local authorities on how to resolve the problem of finding accommodation for travellers.
  8. Remove the requirement for a 20% additional allowance for development.
  9. Specifically encourage the use of brownfield sites for new housing development.
  10. Confirm that equal weight will be given in the NPPF to the categories of planning for prosperity, planning for people, and planning for places (para 10) but acknowledge in para 11 that there will be many circumstances, particularly within existing built environments, where planning for spaces will outweigh the others because of a need to protect the existing environment.
  11. Create a presumption against development which would detrimentally affect the historic environment in our villages, towns, cities and countryside.
  12. Create protection for open spaces used by the public within built up areas.
  13. Recognise the value of open countryside and include policies to preserve, enhance and protect the character of the countryside from inappropriate development.
  14. Encourage local authorities to review the boundaries of Green Belt land where these run along main roads to ensure a buffer of open space along those roads.
  15. Encourage local authorities to put in place strong policies to control the proliferation and detrimental environmental effects of advertisements and signage.
  16. Incentives should be created for Housing Associations to allow them to expand their ability to provide more affordable housing, and to make a greater contribution towards the aim of increasing the number of new dwellings built annually.
  17. Create a monitoring system on a national basis to keep track of the amount of housing developments approved, built and completed, and issue updated guidance on a regular basis to local authorities so that they can see how their own allocations, planning applications, approvals and built provision are affected by the national picture.
  18. Provide national guidelines for future development to address the imbalance between the increasingly depopulated north and the increasingly overpopulated south and issue guidance to local authorities where this is likely to affect the provision within their local plans.
  19. Make VAT zero-rated where existing buildings are converted and/or refurbished to new uses.
The full response may be read here: http://www.brighton-society.org.uk/?page_id=1902

Thursday, 10 November 2011

G F Watts in Brighton

31 Sussex Square
The artist George Frederick Watts, 1817 to 1904, was a frequent winter visitor to Brighton in the 1880's, where he worked on his famous painting "The Court of Death" (see earlier post). 

His wife Mary, designer & potter, 33 years his junior, wrote; "‘After much consideration we settled the question where to spend the winter by taking a house at Brighton. There was the advantage of a well-lighted studio, built for a picture-gallery, large enough to take in his big painting of the " Court of Death," and as many others as he wished to have there. His doctor knew and recommended this house, and to 31 Sussex Square we went on November 1. A big platform was built up in this studio to make it possible for him to work upon the " Court of Death." When he went into that room to find that these preparations had been made, his feeling seemed to be a sort of despair at the amount of work that still remained undone."

G F Watts' reputation, like that of other Victorian artists underwent something of  decline through much of the 20th Century but now seems to be in the ascendant. 31 Sussex Square would seem to be a prime candidate for a blue plaque. 

With thanks to Mark Bills, Curator, Watts Gallery

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The lower promenade shelter hall

This photo shows the semi-circular hall at the bottom of West Street shortly after it was opened in 1887. The interior was beautifully decorated and comfortably furnished to enable up to 500 visitors enjoy views of the beach and sea in relative comfort in bad weather.

The photo below shows it as it is today, still largely intact. It is decorated on the outside with some fine heads of Neptune just below the railings. It is interesting to note the change in character of the beach clutter.

However the octagonal kiosk above is showing the effects of 125 years of exposure to salt-laden gales. It still has the original decorative cast-iron work, probably cast in one of Brighton's several Victorian foundries but, by its condition, it looks as if it will not be around for much longer. I would like to see the ironwork removed and conserved, new moulds taken, re-castings made and re-erected on the kiosk. 
No harm in wishing I suppose . . . .

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The new Amex building topping-out


Some are concerned that its elevations on Carlton Hill may prove to be somewhat forbidding, but from the Pavilion Gardens it looks quite good.