Monday, 29 November 2010

Hanningtons, 29th.November 1940

Only four bombs in all fell within the area of the Old Town: two on the seafront near Grand Junction Road; one in Ship Street where Dukes Lane is now; and one in front of Hanningtons, with the results shown here. By contrast, throughout the war, the Kingscliffe area of Brighton received about thirty hits. 

The same corner today (but no longer Hanningtons):-

Friday, 26 November 2010

Brighton Bits most popular posts

Page View numbers given are for the period 1st June 2010 until present.

Regency Society supports the "Keep the Level Green Campaign"

In a recent letter to the Argus The Hon. Sec. of the Regency Society reports the objections of its Trustees to siting a new Skate Park at the north end of the level:-

"It is important that our green spaces serve all sectors of the community and this is one of very few that serves the younger members of society. The wider community is apparently not in favour of moving the skate park, and neither are the Friends of the Level, so it’s hard to understand why council officers persist with proposals to move it.

If the skate park is moved, the siting of funfairs and other temporary and Brighton Festival and Fringe events will be compromised. The relative peace of the grassed area where families and groups can sit and enjoy the sunshine in the city centre will be fundamentally changed."

Our main objection, however, is that, in the heart of one of our major conservation areas – that is an important historic piece of urban landscape – its character would inevitably be damaged by inserting fences, concrete ramps and other structures, which will attract graffiti."

Previous post here.

The Patcham Elms: last act; scene 1

Work has started to remove the massive stumps and roots:-

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Anston House - latest developments

From the Argus:-

By Tim Ridgeway

"A building dubbed the ugliest in Sussex will be subject to a £35 million transformation by a cutting edge designer.

Proposals believed to be worth tens of millions are being drawn up to develop the Anston House site in Preston Road, Brighton, which has been derelict for twenty years.

Specialist private bank Investec, which owns the site, has revealed it has employed contemporary designers Urban Splash, which specialises in converting former industrial buildings, as part of a team to transform the 1.5 acre plot.

It is believed the site, which has been described as a “gateway to the city”, will become a mixed-use site to include affordable housing, office space and some retail units."

Earlier article: Anston House

BHASVIC - just a detail . . .

This rather splendid entablature over the main entrance reflects the original occupants of the building, the Brighton, Hove & Sussex Grammar School which moved here from Buckingham Road in 1913. It thus shows from left to right the shields of Hove, Brighton and Sussex surmounted by the head of Athena. Unfortunately its artistic integrity has been diluted by the later addition of a carved scroll behind Athena's head which records the present occupants, the Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College, which moved here in 1975. This seemed to have been a rather pointless exercise,  some of the lettering is obscured by Athena's head and at the same time, by filling-in the dramatic gap in the arch, it lessens the overall impact of the work. 

Many of the original pupils would have studied Latin as a matter of course. "Grammar" referring to the latin kind. The motto translates as "Without Work Nothing". 

The Grammar School hadn't been there long before the building was taken over by the military as a Great War hospital.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Plans for the Pepperpot

A group called Shared Space and Light has embarked on a project in which they will be researching ideas for the future of the Pepperpot. The results of their research will be turned into a video which they hope to project onto the outside of the Pepperpot next Spring using the unique architecture of the building to create an unforgettable spectacular event.

They’re looking for volunteers for this Saturday 27 November to go and share their ideas which will be filmed. They’ll be using 'Workshop for the Imagination' at 75 Islingword Road.

Anyone who’s interested in helping should contact Chris Grottick at

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Greenway

Although it is not yet officially open one can now walk along the northern end of the NEQ Greenway. Someone has kindly removed the barriers at the Boston St. end and, at the bottom of the New England steps, have created a gap big enough to step through.
When you get to the old goods railway bridge an excellent panorama of the Victorian viaduct can be seen. Some years ago plans were afoot to erect a public work of art on this bridge, a symbolic representation of an old steam locomotive passing over the bridge when viewed from the street below. I do not know if these plans are still ongoing. If carried through I suspect it will partially obscure the above view.

Related posts:-

Friday, 19 November 2010

The new 'Brighton Rock'

From the Guardian:

"Don't call Rowan Joffe's Brighton Rock a remake. Rather than taking his cue from the 1947 classic he returned directly to Graham Greene's novel, and, re-setting the story in the 60s, formed a towering study of female suffering, with brilliant performances by Sam Riley, Helen Mirren and Andrea Riseborough. The film opens in the UK on 4 February".

Watch trailer here.

The North Road Car Park Trap

Just an ordinary car park entrance with no hint to the unwary motorist of the trap that lies within. It should really have a big sign over the entrance "Warning - Entering can damage your wealth".  NO INFORMATION ON THE CHARGES IS AVAILABLE UNTIL YOU HAVE TAKEN YOUR ENTRY TICKET AND GONE PAST THE BARRIER.
It is then of course too late to do anything about it and, even if you leave immediately, you have incurred a charge of £4 minimum.

In fact the parking motorist may only become aware of the charges when they return to their car and seek out a machine to validate their ticket. The tiny notice of charges is at the top right-hand corner of the machine and shown in detail below.

Some "welcome".

Commercial operations are, of course, entitled to impose whatever charges they think profitable: but they should surely be required to display them in such a way that the consumer, in this case the motorist, has sufficient information to make an informed choice before he has incurred any costs. 

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Mendelssohn's Elijah

On Saturday, November 27th. at All Saints Church, Hove the excellent Brighton Orpheus Choir will be performing Mendelssohn's Elijah with a full orchestra and young professional soloists. This should be a really good sing of Mendelssohn's second oratorio. It has been extremely popular ever since its first performance in 1842, but hasn't been heard in Brighton for several years.

Over its 68 years of existence the Brighton Orpheus Choir has often arranged for a collection to support local or national charities, to which the audience and choir members have given generously. These have recently included Children in Need, Shelter,  RNLI and a Rwandan charity, Solace Ministries. At the forthcoming concert it has opted to nominate the very local Brighton, Hove & District Samaritans for the retiring collection.

The local branch of the Samaritans celebrated its 40th anniversary just a few years ago. It has, over these years, become a very busy branch, and now has over 150 volunteers providing confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide. It receives of the order of 40,000 contacts per year via phone, email, SMS and personal visits. 

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Nine Lessons & Carols for Godless People

Fittingly Robin Ince's Christmas show, which has been a sell-out hit at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London for the last two years, is now coming to the Dome in England's  "most godless city".

The star-studded lineup includes:-

Baba Brinkman - evolutionary rapper
Dara O'Briain - star of Mock the Week
Isy Suttie - star of Peep Show
Chris Addison - star of Thick of It
Matt Parker - stand up mathematician and warm up man for Royal Institute Christmas lectures
Richard Herring - one of Britain's top comedians & author of How Not To Grow Up
Simon Singh - scientist and author of Big Bang and Fermat's Last Theorem
Gavin Osborn - composer and accompanist for Daniel Kitson's award winning shows
Josie Long - too many awards to mention
Jo Neary - star of Ideal, Edinburgh award nominee
Helen Arney - singer, songwriter and excellent geek
Stephen Grant - king of Brighton comedy
Frisky and Mannish - the new musical sensation of the comedy circuit
Martin White's Little Brass band
Surely not to be missed by Brighton's large sceptical community and promises to be a sell-out.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Keep the Level green

The City Council has put forward  proposals to locate a new skateboarding park and performance stage in the northern (green) end of the Level.  There is considerable local opposition to this idea - the feeling being that the northern end of the Level should stay green, and the skate-park (for skate boards) should be refurbished but remain in the southern end.  This is acceptable to the skate-boarders, who don't mind where it is as long as they have one.  They are perfectly happy to stay where they are - in the southern end - with the available money being spent on smartening the skate park up.

An accompanying issue is a prospective bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to refurbish the southern end of the Level based on its historical design. The council have suggested  this will be lost if the skatepark remains where it is.  It is true that the present skate-park is in a different position to that of the original play area but this seems a minor consideration compared with other changes proposed for  the 1930's design.  The green nature of the Level's northern end is a much older inheritance and is surely of equal or even greater value in this densely urban area. It should be preserved.

See also:-

Saturday, 13 November 2010

New England Quarter - block J

A planning application is expected before Christmas for the one remaining undeveloped part of the extensive station site, the roughly triangular block J, seen here from its northern apex in Fleet Street.  It extends from this point southwards to the Trafalgar Place office development, which can be seen in the distance, and is at present in use as a car park at £6.50 per day. This is quite reasonable, unless you need to get to the station. There is no direct access and the fall of land from station level to Fleet Street is a massive 9 metres.

As part of their "Station Gateway Project" the Council are committed to improving access to this side of the station. To accomodate this, developers "Square Bay" are proposing a wide flight of steps and a lift which will provide access to the station from the far south-west corner of the site to about the present drop-off point. This will also link up with the extended pedestrian 'greenway' from New England Hill, which at present ends at Fleet Street.

At the south end of the site is planned an eight-storey, 98 bed hotel and commercial office space linking to the station. The heights of these developments will be slightly lower than Trafalgar Place. and when viewed from a distance will fall below a line linking the station sheds with St. Bartholomews.

Moving north further development will provide market housing and affordable housing in two separate blocks. The signature external finishes of the buildings will comprise grey brickwork and galvanised iron balcony panels in a square mesh design. This design is intended  to allow light on to the balcony,  but because of their depth, also provide privacy when viewed from an angle. There is no intention to indulge the current prediliction of some architects for bare wood cladding.

Elsewhere on the site will be: retail at ground level; terraces & allotments; public square; children's play area. Throughout the development extensive use will be made of sustainable technolgies to a very high standard.

The public consultation on these proposals was by means of an exhibition at the Community Centre, which is fairly well-hidden around the back of "One Brighton".  A card for comments was provided but with no postal return address. The exhibition is not at present online.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Councillor's letter update

This letter (see yesterday's post)  . . . has  been removed from the list of Council Press Releases but  I do not know if the Argus has now printed it.

I suspect something of a political gaffe was made, perhaps by an over-enthusiastic press officer, in using the Council's website to imply criticism of the local press.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Councillor's letter Argus won't print . . .

So I'm reproducing it here:-

"Your recent article (November 2) on buildings at risk missed an opportunity to tell readers of the amazing work Brighton & Hove city council is doing to protect the city’s heritage.

This council specifically - and councils generally - were mentioned in your article seven times.  In fact, among 25 buildings at risk in the city, five are council-owned.  In each of these five cases, solutions are either near completion or being considered.

The article calls for the local authority to work with property owners and communities.  This is already happening a very great deal.

Over the last two years there has been a net reduction in buildings at risk.  Thanks to our pro-active approach of managing the situation 13 buildings are no longer at risk while seven new at risk buildings have been identified as a direct result of our own surveying.

We are now acting swiftly when listed buildings become vacant or when we become aware that they are not being maintained, so that we can monitor them, work with the owners and take action where necessary.

At my Environment Cabinet Member Meeting recently we addressed the case of 19 Brunswick Place. This was long vacant, in serious disrepair and subject to regular squatting. It had attracted numerous complaints from neighbours. We resolved to carry out the urgent repairs - and bill the owner - to make it weathertight and secure.  We were about to send in a contractor when the owner sold the property. We have since worked positively with the new owner, who has carried out the urgent works and is now discussing with us proposals to bring the building back into much-needed residential use.

A case in point is Marlborough House, which has now been repaired and restored following talks with the owners initiated by the council.  14 Montpelier Crescent was another vacant building suffering from a leaking roof. Again our intervention led to the sale of the building to new owners who are living in the property and have fully repaired the roof.

We fully expect to be able to remove other buildings from the at risk list in the coming months."

Cllr Geoffrey Theobald

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Rottingdean Seafront - Then & Now

Rottingdean was incorporated into Brighton in 1928 and the Undercliff Walk was opened in 1933. Judging by the iron railings which seem to be the same pattern as on Brighton seafront it seems probable that the early picture is post-1928, but before the Undercliff walk reached Rottingdean, since, in the foreground, steps appear to be leading down to the beach. It is perhaps not surprising, given the conditions, that the railings didn't endure as long as Brighton's and, in the major reconstruction of the Undercliff Walk, completed in 2005, stainless steel ones were provided where necessary. The cliff-top restaurant and private houses were demolished for the flats development in the 1960's.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

A "Copper" plaque

In Rottingdean this morning the City Mayor unveiled a plaque at 1 Challoner Cottages, Rottingdean, the old family home of the famous singing Copper family.  James 'Brasser' Copper, d.1924, and his brother Thomas, were honorary members of the English Dance & Folk Song Society, founded 1898. James' two sons John & Jim continued the singing tradition as did Jim's son Bob (1915-2004) who learnt songs at his "grandfather's knee". Present day descendants, including Bob's grandchildren, are carrying on the tradition and many were present at the unveiling.

Bob was also one of the last members of the family to experience at first hand the age-old farming and fishing economy of the village and set his recollections down in a number of superbly evocative books, notably: Early to Rise; A Song for Every Season; Songs & Southern Breezes. He received the EDFSS Gold Badge Award in 1978 and an MBE in 2004, a few days before he died. 
Various recordings of the family's singing have been made since the 1950s and, the definitive collection,  'Come Write Me Down', which comes with two booklets full of biographical detail is still availible.  The family are involved in The Imagined Village project.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Mitre House

Mitre House was built in 1935 on the site of the buildings on the left of this photo. This part of Western Road was always somewhat wider than the eastern end, the projecting buildings of which can be seen in the distance. Even so, judging by the kerb line, it appears that the Boots building of 1928, in neo- classical style with Ionic columns, was set back somewhat from the pre-existing building line. Beyond Boots can be seen the 1930's Stafford store.  This picture must date from the period 1929-34 but, as some work appears to have started on the corner of Spring Street, probably nearer 1934.

Mitre House was built for International Stores which occupied a large shop on the ground floor and was still there in the 1958. Next door was Moores, a prestigious car showroom: and towards Spring Street there was also the chemist, Timothy Whites; Bata,  a shoe shop; and a branch of W H Smiths. 

Coming to the present, part of Mitre House has now been unoccupied for about nine years and the upper facade is showing its age. It has also been mightily disfigured (at least from some viewpoints) by a miscellaneous collection  of aerials sprouting from its roof. However, some succour appears now to be in prospect with an application to create a 131-bedroom budget hotel being approved by the City Council’s planning committee yesterday afternoon (3 Nov 2010). (See press release)

The 1930s building is in two blocks separated by a light well  and the application relates to the northern block fronting on Hampton Street; but it seems the Western Road entrance will be used for the hotel with one of the shops being converted to a reception area.  Conversion also entails adding a fourth floor to the building.

It is to be given new steel windows; and its distinctive brick-clad facades are, unfortunately, fated to disappear under a coat of render, but this is probably the only economical way to deal with flaking brickwork

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Brighton Station

Brighton's wonderful, curving train shed was built in 1882-3 to a design by H E Wallis and almost didn't see its centenary. In 1973, British Rail in conjunction with the Peachey Investment Company, came near to getting final council backing for  plans to demolish the shed and erect a 14 storey, hotel, office, hypermarket complex. The platforms were to be consigned to the nether regions, and would have surely rendered arrival and departure a subsidiary, downbeat affair.

In those days the Regency Society tended to concern itself mainly with protecting listed buildings and monitoring the few conservation areas then in existence. At a public protest meeting in 1973 the Brighton Society was launched by John Morley, then Director of the Royal Pavilion, and Selma Montford. The Society lent its support to the "Save our Station" campaign and set to work to get the station grade II listed by the government. Listing was granted in 1973.  A new ticket office was provided in 1980 and in 1987 a massive restoration project commenced. In 1988 it was included in the West Hill Conservation area. Thus the station, still in its victorian form, survives to delight us to this day. 

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Future Car Challenge

Next Saturday, November 6th, 60 zero/low-emission vehicles will take part in the first RAC Brighton to London "Future Car Challenge". This number of entries, far exceeds expectations, and establishes, probably, the largest event of its kind.  It is intended as a very public showcase for low-energy impact vehicles and entries include all the latest electric, hybrid and low emission passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and motorcycles.

The start is at 8.30 am from Madeira Drive Brighton,  and the provisional timings thereafter are:-
  • Halfway stop (Crawley) 09:30 to 10:30. 
  • Finish (Pall Mall, London) 11:15 to 12:30 
  • At 12.30 pm in Regent Street the vehicles will join in a special ceremonial finish and presentation of awards in different categories to those judged to have made the least energy impact during the 60-mile run.  

As a measure of the importance of this inaugural event, entries have been received from the majority of the major car manufacturers, including BMW, Citro├źn, FIAT, Ford, MINI, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Renault, Skoda, Smart, Tata, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volkswagen. In many cases several different models have been entered.

Several world/UK debuts will feature as a number of the participating manufacturers will use the event to showcase, live, their pre-production electric, plug-in hybrid, hydrogen and low-emission internal combustion vehicles.

Eastern Western Road - Then & Now

Then being sometime after the Regent Ballroom, whose domed roof can be seen rising above Queens Road, was built in 1923; and sometime before the properties on the far-left were demolished for road-widening and construction of the Imperial Arcade building in 1934.
Now being November 2010:-

What was, for many years, a narrow bottleneck, has long gone. The broken yellow line in the foreground corresponds approximately in the earlier photo to the, then rare, road centre markings. These can just be seen by the offside wheel of the approaching van.

The only features still remaining are the Clock Tower, and the Soper's building (1901) on the right, although in common with most other old buildings in Brighton it has lost its flagpoles. On its ground floor Sopers once had a mini-arcade of elegant curved glass and wood display windows, and free-standing enclosures. When Sopers moved out, in the 1960's, these windows were removed to the Museum where they formed inspired display cases for the costume collection.  Sadly, when the Museum was given its millenium makeover  these were jettisoned in favour of the tedious, ill-lit arrangements we have today.