Monday, 28 February 2011

News from the Pepperpot

Work is due to start shortly on the outside of the Pepperpot and continue for several months. It is hoped to restore it to its former glory with paint that will also provide protection for the tower.

The first Annual General Meeting of "Friends of the Pepperpot", is taking place on March 10th in the upstairs of the 'Pub with No Name' at 7.30 pm. As well as the constitutional stuff, there will be a presentation with a round up of the year’s activities, setting of goals for next year, a look ahead to future plans and an opportunity to view pictures and buy cards. Admission is free.

It will be followed by wine tasting given by Henry Butler (taking place from approximately 9pm). Tickets for this will be £12 including a £2 donation towards the Pepperpot group. Tickets can be bought from the Dover Castle, the Workshop for the Imagination, the 'Pub with No Name', or on the door.

Later, on Saturday 19th March at the Brighton History Centre, a ‘Memory Day’ will be held. If you have memories you’d like to share you are invited to  come along between 10.30 am and 3.30 pm. If you are coming please let Hamish MacGillivray know on: 07811-144622.

Earlier posts:-
Winter warmer at the Pepperpot
Plans for the Pepperpot
The Pepperpot

Friday, 25 February 2011

Get married at the Duke of Yorks?

The Duke of Yorks Picturehouse has applied to the City Council for a grant of approval of its premises for the Solemnisation of Marriages.

It seems like an excellent idea.

I wonder how many Brighton couples have met in the super little bar?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Royal Alexandra Site. Final act?

Following years of campaigning by the Montpelier & Clifton Hill Association, the Brighton Society,  concerned residents, and the very recent intervention by Green Councillor Jason Kitkat and Green MP Caroline Lucas, planning permission has been granted for a scheme which retains the Royal Alexandra main building. Taylor Wimpey, the owners of the site, withdrew an alternative application for demolition shortly before it was to go before the Planning Committee.
Brighton Bits has followed this long saga throughout and previous posts can be read here, here, here, and here.

Thus the important Dyke Road streetscape is to be preserved, as are the more unexpected but equally valued glimpses of the building from Powis Villas (see left).

The proposals will unfortunately lead to the loss of the quirkey Art & Craft style 1898 villa seen here.

It is to be hoped that work on the site will now start before too much further deterioration of the building takes place. In the present economic climate this might be by no means assured; or even that Taylor Wimpey will retain the site.
Drawings are from the planning application

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

City Council's new website

Brighton & Hove City Council now has a colourful, bright new website. Early days, but it seems a lot slicker and snappier than the old one.

Monday, 21 February 2011

A giant conga around Palace Pier

As part of British Tourism Week and to support the Macmillan Fund a giant conga is planned in Brighton for March 12th.

The Party starts at Palace (Brighton) Pier at 12 noon with Bands, Entertainers and Goodie Bags. At 2pm all the Piers will begin their Conga in the hope of setting a new World Record.
Are you a socialite?
Gather all of your friends, the group with the most members and the best dressed individual will win prizes. 

See: for registration details.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Just an old wall . . .

. . . very neglected, and rather disfigured by notices from the Princess Marine Hotel, Kingsway to which it presumably belongs. It was once the west boundary wall of a large private house built in 1902 and later occupied by Hove College which closed in 1980. The house later burnt down while it was undergoing conversion.

The body of the wall is a mixture of brick and flint cobble and it has brick buttresses and half-round brick top edging. The unusual octagonal pier appears to have developed a lean since an earlier photograph and a crack has opened up with the body of the wall. 

No. 155 Kingsway behind, the former Nurses' Home,  is now completely derelict. It is scheduled for demolition and the site for redevelopment with low-rise flats.  Work was supposed to have started last September.

See also: "Hove College pupil remembered"

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Passacaglia & Fugue

  • "Passacaglia" 1998. Charles Hadcock's best known work.
  • "Fugue". The West Pier; a joint work by Eugenius Birch 1866, and the 'Ravages of Time & Arson', 1975 to the present.
  • "Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor by J S Bach, c.1710.
Charles Hadcock studied fine art at the Royal College of Art. His first solo exhibition was in London in 1991 at the Royal British Society of Sculptures in Old Brompton Road. It explored Charles' unique  interpretation of the key elements of mathematics, music, earth texture and engineering. Many of his public works are cast in iron and can be seen in numerous sites in London and around the country including "Verticil" in Hanover Square, London.

Friday, 18 February 2011

A Winter's landscape - postscript

Following the post "A Winter's Landscape" of 2 months ago, it is interesting to discover that  one of Denys van Alsloot's more famous works, the Ommeganck, is on display at  the Victoria and Albert Museum.

This is a wonderfully detailed, colourful, 1615, picture of the splendid court procession through Brussels, during which Archduchess Isabella was made Queen of the Crossbowmen's Guild. It rather puts one in mind of the annual Brighton Pride parade, but with horses!

Above is a detail from the painting which is nearly 4 metres long. 

The Ommeganck is an exhibit in the Theatre & Performance Galleries. These contain an intriguingly varied collection of theatrical material. This  includes hand-operated sound-producing machines donated by Brighton's Theatre Royal, obviously now rendered obsolete by the introduction of synthesisers and electronic sound reproduction.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

'Locomotive' art-work for the Greenway bridge

The northern section of the NEQ Greenway is finally open (see earlier post), and the Argus reports that the long-awaited public art-work by local metal sculptor Jon Mills is ready to be craned into position. The work is based on the 1847 steam locomotive, Jenny Lind, built at the Brighton Railway Works for the London, Brighton & Southcoast Railway.

 This is the view which it will largely obscure but one can't have everything I suppose . . .

More fascinating details of this project can be seen on Jon Mill's blog.

Other examples of Jon Mills' work that can be seen around Brighton are his unique sign posts on the seafront and the metal railings on the corner of Preston Park Avenue and Stanford Avenue.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Royal Extravagance

The "Dress for Excess" exhibition has regency costumes displayed in several rooms throughout the Royal Pavilion, which provides near perfect settings. The display culminates in a new exhibition room, the Prince Regent Gallery, dedicated to George IV's coronation.  It is good to see more of the Pavilion being brought into use to offer even greater value to the visitor, and particularly appropriate that it should be used to highlight George IV's extravagant tastes without which the Royal Pavilion would not exist at all.

George was intensely interested in clothes all his life and succeeded in running up a tailor's bill for £1.5 millon at today's prices. His coronation in 1821 provided an ideal opportunity to indulge his tastes for pomp and opulence and ended up costing £15 million (today's prices), the most expensive coronation in history. His crimson velvet, ermine-trimmed, processional mantle is shown in the picture below. George, not content with the normal length requiring 3 bearers per side had it extended to 16 feet to accomodate 4 bearers per side. After his death 10 year's later his successor, William IV, disdaining all such extravagance put the entire coronation costume collection up for sale and the mantle was bought by Madam Tussaud. It now forms the highpoint of this exhibition which is worth a visit for this item alone.

The Coronation in Westminster Abbey:-

The exhibition commemorates the passing of the Regency Act on 5th. Feb 1811 and continues until 5th. February 2012. Next year will mark the quarter-millenial of George IV's birth.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Patcham gets new elms

On Saturday 12th February 5 new elm saplings were planted in Patcham Village to replace the two mature elms lost last autumn to elm disease. They are spaced out along the curve from Ladies Mile Road to Old London Road. The furthest one is to the left of the blue wheelie bin. They were scheduled to be blessed the following day by the local vicar :p

Those who prefer to put their trust in science will be pleased to know that a disease-resistant variety was used.  Horticulturalists have produced this variety over the last 25 years by successive propagation from a single Suffolk tree. This was observed to be surviving while all around other elms were succumbing to the disease. (See Daily Telegraph report)

Earlier related posts:-

Friday, 11 February 2011

Royal Pavilion Valentine offer

If you have never visited the Royal Pavilion, or it was before the many years of extensive restoration work, here is an opportunity to remedy the situation.  An exclusive web booking offer* for Saturday 12th to Monday 14th February inclusive.  Bring your partner free for a romantic visit to George IV sumptuous pleasure palace. Complete your visit by enjoying a special Valentines menu and a glass of fizz in the Royal Pavilion tearoom with its view across the restored Regency gardens. Last admission to palace and tearoom 4.30.
Offer price includes admission only.
*Scroll down. Third entry.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

An underground car-park for Preston Park?

In an article in the February issue of "What's Happening" magazine local business man Mike Holland proposes ways to solve Brighton's traffic problem. He seems to suggest that Brighton needs more visitors than it gets at present, and would manage to get them if only it weren't for the traffic conditions and the difficulty and cost of parking. It is true that traffic is causing high pollution levels in the city, and that the cost of parking is punitive, but the suggestion that these factors are limiting vistor numbers hardly squares with the near continuous stream of traffic one sees every weekend queuing to get into Brighton. One wonders how they all manage to fit into Brighton's limited space, so where would all the extra cars that Mr Holland envisages go?

His answer would be to build a vast car park under Preston Park, citing as an example Regency Square.  This is hardly an encouraging example. It was built against strong opposition and has only succeeded in nibbling at the parking problem; at the same time turning the Square into a sterile, unattractive space with insufficient top soil to support the vegetation such an open space requires. Such an operation in Preston Park doesn't bear thinking about. The excavation and building works would deny a large area of the park to a generation of youngsters, surely cause the loss of many mature trees, and leave an artificial, unattractive landscape.

To enable drivers to reach this parking paradise in the shortest possible time Mr Holland further proposes a flyover at Patcham roundabout to enable the A23 dual carriageway to continue through Patcham, Withdean and Preston all the way to his new car park. This would require a towering edifice to clear the already elevated A27: and the dual carriageway would inevitably take land from Patcham Place, Withdean Park, Surrenden Field, and diverse front gardens; involve the loss of many trees, and maybe, demolition of property.

The whole idea has strong echos of the 1960's Wilson Wormsley Plan, which proposed an elevated motorway from Preston Circus to the multi-storey car park in Church Street. This would have involved the demolition of 700 houses and devastated the Preston Circus and North Laine areas. Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, one can see that its contribution to alleviating modern traffic problems would have been negligible. To paraphrase Parkinson, "Traffic expands to occupy the space available to it".

Mr Holland obviously takes a great interest in Brighton and has done some good stuff. He sucessfully restored Stanmer House when its prospects looked dire, and saved the Engineerium. Brighton is lucky to have him but this is not one of his better ideas.

Brighton Festival 2011

Brighton Festival this year will celebrate themes of freedom of expression, liberty and the power of the individual voice in society, with  Aung San Suu Kyi as the Guest Director, presumably in a largely symbolic role.

The programme to be launched on 23rd February includes events ranging from a newly co-commissioned work by Turkish artist Kutlu─č Ataman, to a revival of the acclaimed site-specific theatre commission 'The New World Order' by theatre company Hydrocracker, based on Pinter’s political plays.  Aung San Suu Kyi’s passion for Western classical music has also been reflected right across the programme and includes Beethoven’s powerful hymn to freedom Fidelio, in a concert performance with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Adam Fischer.

Highlights of the books and debate programme include: a discussion entitled ‘Article 19’ on 'Freedom of Information' and the 'Right to Know' with Julian Assange (this seems quite a coup);  Peter Taylor the BBC investigative journalist and author of Talking to Terrorists; Izzeldin Abuelaish, author of I Shall Not Hate; a debate on ‘The Future of Burma’: and an event with International PEN and Jericho House Theatre Co. called ‘Writing Freedom’.

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.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Get your Nick Cave suit.

Nick Cave has kindly donated a number of suits to help raise funds for Brighton, Hove and District Samaritans. For more photos and full details see here.

Station site: planning application for block J

planning application has been submitted for development of the last substantial block of what has come to be known as the New England Quarter (NEQ). This last section has been named 'New England Square' (even though it is triangular). As proposed the development will provide, to the south of the site, a 98 bedroom hotel and mixed-use block on Mangalore Way,  and immediately behind that, a public square with steps and a lift to the station level.  On the east side is the last section of the Greenway from New England Road. The abrupt change in ground level on this side offers the possibility of some interesting landscaping.

North of the public square are two more residential blocks with roof allotments,  a communual roof terrace and a communual square with play area. At the north east corner there is a small triangular open space "Fleet Street Court".

The southern block will be from 6 to 8 storeys high, the central and northern blocks from 5 to 8.

Immediately below is a view of the site from Station Approach as it is now (looking east with Mangalore Way to the right); and, below that, a west elevation of the proposed development.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The 'Greenway' opens at last

The northern section of the New England Greenway is now officially open after protracted negotiations to establish a public right of way over the disused goods railway bridge. For a full report see the City Council's press release. The south end leading from Stroudley Road to the station is yet to be completed.

Relevant earlier posts:-
The Greenway
Station 'Greenway' update
The Station Site

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Architectural fantasia

Red-brick and tile-hung gables of 'holiday Queen Anne' style erupt among Georgian stucco with a back drop provided by 21st century whimsy and 20th century stark modernism. 

The red-brick 'Lanes Hotel' in Marine Parade was built from 1879 onwards by architect Col. Robert Edis imitating the country-house style of his architect friend Norman Shaw. 

The Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital behind was designed 2002-04 by the 'Building Design Partnership' to be in the form of an ark, with a "nautical theme" appropriate to a seaside location. Needless to say it is on much too large a scale for this to be appreciated by the casual street-level observer, let alone the young patients. However,  much care was taken to design the interior to comfort and entertain children, and its curved white corners do harmonise well with the surrounding stucco. 

The earlier 14 storey tower block of the hospital dates from 1970. On the left of the photo, in shadow, is the new Sussex Kidney Unit.