Thursday, 31 March 2011

The new memorial at the Chattri


To the left of this photo is the memorial, unveiled September 2010, which displays the names of 53 Indian soldiers who died while hospitalised in Brighton during the period 1914-15. The last Indian soldier left Brighton in 1916. The original intentions of the then Mayor of Brighton, and prime instigator of the Chattri, Sir John Otter, have therefore been finally realised, thanks to the efforts of the Commonwealth Graves Commission.

Commencing in 1951, the British Legion organised an annual pilgrimage and memorial Service at the Chattri. This continued until 1999 when  the Legion discontinued it, citing old age and declining numbers of attendees. Hearing of this, Davinder Dhillon, a local Sikh teacher, approached the Legion with a view to resurrecting the event and under his stewardship the ceremony has been held annually on the second Sunday in June since 2000. The next service is on Sunday, 12th June 2011. Attendees come from as far away as Bradford. All are welcome.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Stairway to court . . .

A City Council press release reports that a man who erected an outside staircase without planning permission has been fined £1,600 by Brighton Magistrates and ordered to pay £1,260 costs. 
The metal staircase was put up at the rear of 36 Victoria Street (pictured above). This is not one of the several listed properties in the street, nor did the staircase obtrude on the street, which is in a conservation area; but it was positioned in such a way that anyone using it could look over the neighbouring wall into the garden and into a room of a neighbour’s property.

An application for retrospective planning permission was refused by the council and that decision was upheld on appeal by an independent planning inspector who agreed that it reduced the neighbour’s privacy.

Martin Randall, the city council’s head of planning and public protection, said: “Over a period of nearly two years the council’s planning enforcement team wrote to Mr Heath and served an enforcement notice to try and persuade him to remove the staircase. When all approaches had been ignored, the council was left with no alternative but to take court action.”

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Musings on bus ticket machines

Brighton buses have now been fitted with new ticket machines.

The old machines would shoot out the ticket quite quickly but the ticket was usually difficult to tear off. It often required a second hard tug and then would tear in the wrong place leaving part behind. The driver would have to intervene to remedy the situation. This small delay is, of course, of small inconvenience to an individual passenger but the effect is cumulative, leading to slower journey times overall. It thus inconveniences the bus-travelling public as a whole and slightly increases the fuel used by the bus.

For passengers using a bus pass, it was noticeable that clued-up drivers mitigated the situation by having a small stock of tickets, that they had issued and torn-off in anticipation, ready to hand out as passengers boarded.

The new machines are ingeniously designed to cut the ticket as it is issued, but this operation seems to add significant seconds to the process and passengers have had to be warned not to tug on the ticket too soon. My suspicion is that the slight pause required in front of the ticket machine is going to significantly add to boarding times overall; especially as the passengers needing to receive tickets from the machine are likely to be younger ones and therefore tending to be those less delayed by the old machines. For bus pass holders, drivers have already returned to their previous practice, so no change there.

Another issue is why do senior bus-pass holders need to receive a ticket anyway? Even if they immediately lose it and a ticket inspector boards the bus, they are hardly likely to be accused of fraudulent travel if they can produce a bus-pass. One can appreciate that Brighton Buses needs to have a record of their senior passengers, but this surely need not be dependent on the issue of a paper ticket.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

There's always one isn't there . . .

Because their work is so visible, architects come in for a lot of criticism but sometimes they are surely deserving of sympathy too. However much care and thought the architect put into this modern building, he can hardly have foreseen that a fourth floor occupant would have felt his/her privacy so threatened as to need to erect a screen along the balcony.

It is a nice building. Imagine what a mess it will look if every occupant erects a different type of screen of a different colour.

Earlier post: The Mirage

Friday, 25 March 2011

"Phiz" gets a Blue Plaque

At a small ceremony today, the City Mayor, Cr Geoff Wells, unveiled a plaque to commemorate the famous Dicken's illustrator, Hablot Knight Browne, at his last home in 8 Clarendon Villas, Hove.

This had been preceded by an opening address from Cr. Averil Older, Chair of the Commemorative Plaque Panel and followed by an account of Hablot's life and career from a local member of the Dickens Society, Andrew Carslake. Mr Carslake revealed, among many other fascinating facts, that Hablot was the son of his elder sister Kate with  Captain Nicholas Hablot of Napoleon's Imperial Guard. Hablot Knight Browne is buried in a handsome grave in Brighton's Extra-Mural Cemetery.

The ceremony was also attended by members of the City's Plaque Panel and the well-known actor Brian Capron who kindly hosted a coffee reception at his nearby home.

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

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Council Leader pledges protection for Lido

Councillor Mears remarks were a response to worries among residents about plans by the leaseholder, Dennis Audley, to put more than 100 flats on the site.

Councillor Mears said: "I want both the leaseholder and residents to forget about the idea of putting significant amounts of housing on this site. It is a complete non-starter. The council will never allow it.”

She pointed out that Brighton and Hove City Council are not only the freehold owner of the site but also the planning authority. And she noted that Mr Audley had not submitted a formal planning application despite announcing an ambitious scheme for the site last year.

Hat Tip: Brighton and Hove News.
Previous post: Saltdean Lido gets Grade II* listing.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Ada Freeman Gell

A fine classical sculpture "Seated Girl" by Ada Freeman Gell 1850-1929, from the large unseen inventory of Brighton & Hove Museums.
Ada may have had strong local connections, her  sister Louisa was born in Brighton. In the 1890's she took a studio in Roland Gardens, South Kensington and became part of a remarkable surge at that time in the number of female sculptors. This surge took those exhibiting at the Royal Academy from near zero in the 1880's to 24 out of 80 in the 1896 exhibition.

Victorian sculpture doesn't seem to have underogone the revival of interest similar to victorian architecture and paintings and none of Ada's work appears to be on public display or illustrated. In 2005 an "Exhibition Charger" by her, sold at Bonhams for £300.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Public consultation on the Level plans

As a result of previous consultations and workshops over a considerable period Brighton & Hove City Council have now come up with two designs for restoring and improving the Level. Residents have two weeks in which to express their views on what they think is the best option. The plans can be viewed at the following venues:-

Staffed exhibitions:
Thu 24 March 12 noon – 4pm at the old Co-Op Building, Corner of Baker Street & London Road
Tue 29 March 2pm – 5pm at Phoenix Gallery opposite St Peter’s Church
Unstaffed exhibitions:
Mon 14 March to Sat 26 March at the old Co-Op Building, Corner of Baker Street & London Road
Mon 28 March to Thu 31 March at the Jubilee Library Foyer

Or they can be viewed on line or downloaded, and a survey completed, by going to:-

As expected residents are being asked to choose between leaving the skatepark (improved) in its present location or moving it to the north of the rose-walk. The former will impinge on the historic openness of the northern section of the Level; the latter will allow a more spacious re-creation of the southern ornamental garden. I suspect it will be a close call but surely no one can complain about lack of consultation.
Option 1
Option 2

West Street: then & now (2)

From left to right is: SSBrighton, opened 1934 as a swimming pool, converted to an ice rink the following year and closed in 1965; and, immediately before St. Pauls church, the Odeon cinema, opened in 1937 and closed in 1973.

The Odeon has been moved to Kingswest on the corner of West St./Kings Road, (out of the photo) and a large yellow-brick office building now occupies its site, opened 1992. It is strange that a street close to the seafront and given over largely to the entertainment industry was thought an appropriate location for offices. The SSBrighton was replaced in the 1990's by the new Russell Road and the Oak Hotel, now a Travelodge. Beyond St. Pauls the buildings are largely unchanged but in the distance are now over-topped by Queen Square House. There is still a bus stop in West Street but it is only served, from Thursday to Sunday, by late "Nightclubber" buses. 

The most noticeable change over the 50-60 years between the two photos is the ugly increase in street clutter, most of which serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Holy Trinity Hove for new Health Centre?

See Brighton & Hove News report:-

Saltdean Lido gets Grade II* listing

The Saltdean Lido Campaign's application to English Heritage for Grade II* listing, which was supported by all the major local conservation societies, has been successful. This substantially adds to the protection of the Lido from unsuitable or ill-conceived development which would detract from its historic architectural significance.

Earlier posts can be seen herehere, here, and here.

Please vote for the Lido Campaign in the Cooperative's "Join the Revolution" advertising campaign.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Vote for the Saltdean Lido Campaign

The Saltdean Lido Campaign is expecting to hear shortly about  its application for Grade II* listing which will give it an extra layer of protection. In the meantime the Campaign has applied for £5,000 to set up their volunteer programme through the Co-op's competition - "Join the Revolution".  Each region of the country with the most public votes will win and the Lido is  currently ranked no.1 for the entire country. Everyone who is interested in saving this Art Deco masterpiece for future generations can help by going through a quick registration procedure on "Join the Revolution" and voting for the Lido Campaign. In addtion to the money, which will be used to set up a volunteer programme, (150 local residents have already pledged their time) winning will generate great publicity backed by a national advertising campaign. 

The Lido in 1939:-

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A King Alfred ice-rink?

On the west side of the King Alfred lies this area of grass which seems to be a forerunner of the modern 'green roof' concept. The area underneath was designed as an underground car park and the access ramps can still be seen on the seaward side of the building. In the 50's part of the underground area was devoted to table tennis. By present standards it held a derisory number of cars and there may have been safety issues. It was later converted to ten-pin bowling. 

It is of course not 'waste land' but a 'waste roof'. It seems a pity it can't be put to good use but it would probably need rebuilding from the foundations up if it is to support anything more than itself, especially to modern safety standards. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Alpha Course banner

The City Council is keen to improve the image of the London Road shopping area but sagging, grubby efforts like this do nothing to help the situation. A search on the planning register for this address does not throw up any result. Perhaps the advertisers reckon "doing the Lord's work" doesn't require planning permission? Legal or not, its not doing them any favours. Its shabby condition seems to serve only as a metaphor for the faded myths & disreputable superstitions that the course is seeking to perpetuate.

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Amex Stadium

From the Drove, Falmer. Something for the Seagulls' supporters . . . . .  I like the blue roof and the way the structural curves reference, intentionally or otherwise, the shape of the Downs.
See also earlier view.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A new footpath to St. Nicholas?

Few people enjoy this view because it is only obtained from the far south-east corner  of the St. Nicholas Green Space which, being overshadowed by buildings on two sides, is rarely visited even in summer. 

The redevelopment proposed for the derelict skating rink at the top of Queen Square provides a unique opportunity to change this. If the developers could be persuaded to provide a permissive passageway from the top of Queen Square to the churchyard it would open up an attractive pedestrian route from the Churchill Square area towards the Seven Dials, avoiding the steep climb up Dyke Road. If the path took the form of a well-lit passage way under the first floor of the proposed hotel the proportion of total floor space diverted from hotel use would be small but the increased footfall in the area would benefit the proposed ground floor restaurant. 

The Council is very keen to increase the proportion of pedestrian journeys about the City. Here is a very practical example of where they could intervene to that end.

Pavilion ice-rink postscript

By all accounts the winter ice-skating in the Pavilion grounds was a great success. One hopes it will have generated sufficient funds to allow some t.l.c. for this attractive iron gate. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

Eastern prospect

A view from the Palace Pier shows a corner of Roedean school on the extreme left  and the West Quay (Wetherspoons) on the extreme right with St. Dunstans (1939) near the centre. The Marina access ramp sweeps across the picture with the multi-storey car park at the RH end and just beyond the car-park is the squat drum tower of the Seattle Hotel. The Rottingdean windmill is just to the left of the Seattle's flagpole but partly obscured by a crane working on Southern Water's new waste water treatment scheme. To the left hand end of the beach is the banjo groyne built 1877.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Duke Street revisited

The splendid acacia tree in Duke Street referred to in an earlier post here, is currently look very sorry for itself.

Acacias originate in warmer climes and in England may behave as semi-deciduous, i.e the extent of leaf loss is governed by winter temperatures. This particular specimen has recovered from bad winters in the past, but the winter 2010/11 seems to have been particularly severe.  One hopes for the best. . .

Monday, 7 March 2011

Guerilla 'gardeners' strike again . .

From the Argus:-
"Activists are trying to stop landowners clearing them from a "community garden" on waste ground in Brighton.
About 30 people have gathered at a site they have named The Mound, at the corner of Church Street and Portland Street in North Laine." Read more.

It is probably quite a valuable haven for wild life just as it is. Buddleia , for example, is well known for attracting butterflies. I should imagine that the "gardeners" and the resulting hullabaloo they cause will only have the reverse effect. If the 'garden' they created in Lewes Road is an example of what guerilla gardeners do, I would rather they left this particular plot  as a little bit of 'wilderness' for a little bit longer..

Related post:- Housing land in Brighton.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Old Boat Corner from Scare Hill

Old Boat Corner, defined by the south-west corner of Stanmer woods and always a conspicuous point on Brighton's northern skylines, is now made even more recognisable by the dramatic bridge carrying Ditchling Road over the A27 bypass. Old Boat Corner is said to get its name from a shepherd's hut, formed from an upended boat, which once stood there. Although disputed by some, this seems the most likely explanation. Shepherds were required to be with their flocks 24/7 in the lambing season and such rudimentary accommodation would, in the past, have been a familiar feature of downland sheep farming.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Royal Pavilion to be on BBC2

Upstairs/Downstairs at the Royal Pavilion.      

A Council Press release says:-

Look out for the Royal Pavilion on BBC 2 on Friday March 11th.
Brighton’s Royal Palace will be featured in a new BBC series which follows in the footsteps of a young Queen Victoria.
Royal Upstairs Downstairs presenters Tim Wonnacott (best known for Bargain Hunt) and TV chef Rosemary Shrager explore just what went on behind the scenes of Queen Victoria’s many Royal visits.
Queen Victoria chose to spend her first Christmas as Monarch with her Uncle King George 1V at the Royal Pavilion. The year was 1838 and Victoria was just 19.
The journey down from London took 76 hours and involved five sets of horses and the household staff was increased from 25 to more than 200 for the Royal visit.

 Read more.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Does this make you as cross as it does me?

Several bags of miscellaneous kitchen rubbish dumped  alongside the footpath that runs behind Braeside Avenue, Patcham, near to Horsdean Recreation Ground. Glass bottles, plastic bottles, cans etc. Some bags torn open, maybe by animals, some unopened. No vehicle access. An animal might have dragged one bag there, but several?

This is the kind of thing travellers did in Patcham Place a few years ago. They did at least have the faint excuse of no regular rubbish collection.

The Old Market to reopen.

Very good news that the OLD MARKET is reopening under new management in time for the Brighton Festival in May.
There will be a programme of events which uses the main hall for both performance and workshops. In addition a site specific performance piece from Il Pixel Rosso will take place every festival weekend in the basement rooms....
Further information:-
Earlier post:-

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Komedia to become a cinema?

The owners of the Komedia, Gardner St., have submitted a planning application (BH2011/0493) to convert the first floor  to a three screen cinema. The application does not propose any external alterations to the building but would involve a revised internal layout as follows:
  • Basement – Main theatre space and bar (as existing);
  • Ground Floor – Separate entrance to Komedia basement.  Ancillary cafĂ© and bar (in existing locations);
  • Mezzanine – Ancillary offices and customer toilets;
  • First Floor  – Cinema 1 (125 capacity), Cinema 2 (53 capacity), Cinema 3 (71 capacity) and ancillary bar.

More Pepperpot news

View from south

On the top floor of the Pepperpot nine of the 10 windows have been blocked up, the remaining glazed one is on the north east side.

The City Council has registered an application BH2011/00123 to restore all the windows on the top floor to match the existing one. It is proposed that several of the windows will include ventilators with the aim of reducing damp problems.

The composite image right shows the windows restored. The application also specifies lead capping on projecting cornices, as indicated by the arrows, to prevent rain penetration.

Back in the 1950's it was the intention of the Council to open the Tower to the public. It is to be hoped that this is one step further towards achieving that aim, so that we can  enjoy the panorama of Brighton it offers.

Earlier Posts:-
News from the Pepperpot
Plans for the Pepperpot
The Pepperpot

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Patcham Court Farm

Patcham Court Farm, once Brighton's gateway to the Downs, became an island site in the 1990's with the building of the A27 Brighton by-pass, opened 1996. Being south of the A27 the area is outside the boundary of the South Downs National Park and thus scheduled for re-development. 

Patcham Court Farm in centre, Horsdean Recreation ground to the right; caravan site top right.

The City Council, which owns the site, originally designated it for office building but this was undermined by the decline in market interest in this type of development. It was subsequently suggested for a 900 space park & ride site to ease the City's traffic problem but this would have required the demolition of 5 houses and the loss of 35 allotments, besides producing an enormous increase of traffic in a still semi-rural area. After a vigorous campaign  of opposition from local residents, allotment holders, local councillors, and the Preston & Old Patcham Society, the plan was withdrawn in Jan 1996.

The latest proposal is from the DeVere hotel group which owns the Grand in Brighton and comprises a 128 bed "Village Hotel", health & fitness facilities, a restaurant and some office space. This would meets the Council's prime objective of providing extra employment in the area, maybe some 275 new jobs, but again would generate significant extra road traffic. The Preston & Old Patcham Society maintains that the site is only suitable for low-rise housing.

View from the east. The Patcham Court Farm site lies behind the bank of conifers in the middle distance.

Argus report here.
More photos on this page.