Thursday, 31 December 2009

History Centre - Support from English Heritage

Thanks to Selma (Hon Sec. Brighton Society)for bringing this to my/our attention.

For information, you can write to David Smith at

He replied to me this morning, saying he would be discussing the decision with officials next week. My local councillor, Paul Elgood, has promised to move a budget amendment on this (if someone else doesn't get there first).

With the council now with no overall control, this deplorable decision can be reversed if we make our feelings clear. Please sign the e-petition- 148 people have already done so.




Howard Spencer
Blue Plaques Historian
English Heritage
1 Waterhouse Square
138-142 Holborn

History Centre Closure - Council response

Reply from Cr. David Smith, Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation & Tourism:-
"Thank you for your email concerning the Brighton History Centre.

Our proposal to move this service from its existing location at the Brighton Museum to the Jubilee Library will, I believe, have a number of benefits.  The accessibility will be improved with an increase in opening hours for customers from 35 hours a week in Brighton History Centre to 54 hours a week in Jubilee Library.  The majority of use of the Brighton History Centre is for use of online resources or microfilm and fiche resources (family history researchers), and these can be provided in Jubilee Library, together with some of the book stock.

The service as it is currently run is only used by a limited group of people and those figures are in decline.  The History centre is unfortunately not attracting new users or younger users and the number of visits has dropped by nearly 14,000 in last five years.

We are keen to improve services and particularly to improve access.  It is also important to note that we do have additional good local history resources in all of our libraries and also in Brighton and Hove Museums and Galleries.

Once again thank you for your enquiry into the Brighton History Centre."

(I note he has not commented on the issues of security or on the possible move to the Keep.)

Previous posts on this subject are: here, here, and here.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Petition against closure of the Brighton History Centre

The fight goes on. (See earlier postings here and here). Please urgently consider signing the epetition on the City Council's website. You have to register first but it is quick and easy.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A Seasonal Greeting

Best Wishes for a Gladsome Yule
& Very Happy New Year

To all my 
Facebook Friends.
Twitter Followers 
& readers of 
Nuts & Reasons & Brighton Bits.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

North Victoria Garden Scheme

City Parks has fenced off a part of the north Victoria Garden in preparation for creating mixed shrub/flower beds down the centre of the grassed area. However attractive the planting may turn out to be, this shows a lack of imagination and a lack of consideration for the true needs of pedestrians.

The garden is presently surrounded by cracked, uneven, underused paving and redundant shabby railings. This could all be swept away and the area of garden extended up to the trees with extra grass and/or beds and a landscaped  path established along the centreline of the garden thus taking the pedestrian well away from the traffic and making it a much more attractive and healthy route. This surely need be no higher in regular maintenance costs than the proposed scheme and the cost of establishing the new path would surely be no greater that that of repairing the existing  paving and maintaining the railings. The extra area of grass would have the added benefit of reducing water run-off.

I do urge City Parks to reconsider these plans before any further work is done.

The Samaritans Christmas Collections

Every Christmas Waterstones  kindly allow the Brighton, Hove & District Branch of the Samaritans to hold a gift-wrapping weekend at the store in North Street. Volunteers are on hand all day to expertly gift-wrap wrap your purchases and hope you will want to contribute to the charity in exchange. This year it was held on the weekend 19th & 20th December and on the Saturday a further collection was held in Churchill Square supported by carols played by members of the Patcham Silver Band.

The total collected for the weekend was £1108. A resounding success.
Samaritans have been quietly operating 24/7 behind the scenes in Brighton for over 40 years providing emotional support and friendship to those in distress. It is manned entirely by volunteers but operating costs still amount to over £100 per day so the need for funding is continuous and weekends like this make a vital contribution.

Heartfelt thanks are due to Waterstones, The Churchill Square Management, Patcham Silver Band, for braving the cold and playing with freezing fingers, and the generous Brighton public.

Happy Christmas to all.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Brighton History Centre 2

Letter to a Councillor:-

Dear Councillor,

I am extremely upset at the news that the Brighton History Centre may close. I believe this a valuable cultural resource  of which the expertise and knowledge of the small staff form a vital element. Once this knowledge is dissipated there will be little chance of the same level of public access to the records ever being re-established.

The destined repository for the archives, the Keep, seems to be years away from completion and as it will be situated at Falmer it will not provide anything like the City centre access enjoyed at present.  Before the present History Centre was established a few years ago the archives were kept in the Old Music Library in Church Street. During this time many items appear to have gone missing. One  worries that if the archives are to moved yet again into temporary accommodation there will be little left to keep.

Neither does the Jubilee Library offer a solution. Although conveniently sited its staff would not possess the required specialist knowledge and, in any case, already seem to be fully occupied.

The Council is fond of designating this area "The Cultural Quarter". I hope you will feel able to defend one of its facilities. What could be more cultural or appropriate than Brighton's history?

Friday, 18 December 2009

Patcham Dovecote

Patcham dovecote in the snow. It is a scheduled Ancient Monument built in the early 1600s and carefully restored in 2007. This included reinstating the 'potence', a ladder attached to a rotating framework to provide easy access to the 550 nesting holes which line the walls. In full production it will have produced up to 200 young featherless birds (or squabs) a week for the table. It stands at the bottom of the garden of Patcham Court Farmhouse with access off Church Hill.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Plans to close the Brighton History Centre

It is reported in the Argus today that the Council in its quest to save £8M pounds from next year's budget will be considering closing the Brighton History Centre. It is said that this will save what seems the paltry sum of £62,000.

No doubt there will be noises made about moving facilities to the Jubilee Library or even to the East Sussex Record Office which is planning new premises on the Falmer campus. But, irrespective of where the archived material ends up, the only way that money will be saved will be by losing the present staff and therefore their years of accumulated expertise in the local & family history fields. The Council needs to be made aware that the History Centre IS the staff.

There are other questions that might be raised. The £8M required  saving presumably refers to one year's budget. What kind of impact will be made in the first year from losing  staff after redundancy and removal costs are added in?

The History Centre seems to be a popular resource. If you are one of its users it is never too early to let your Councillor know your views.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Brighton - The Anthem

This video is always worth revisiting I think. Terry Garoghan has a show at the Komedia this week 15th and 18th December starting at 8pm.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sunday morning badminton

A small friendly group meets every Sunday morning at the King Alfred to play mixed doubles. It has been in existence for about 20 years, although there are probably not many of the original players left. Numbers vary from about 5 to 15 and ages 20ish to 70ish.


Subject to availability Court 5 is usually booked from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Pay for day membership at the entrance kiosk (£1.50) and ask for Eva's court. The charge for the hire of the court (to Eva) is £3.00 each player. When the numbers are high we book two courts so there is very little sitting out.