Thursday, 30 June 2011

The City Council pledges to save Saltdean Lido

A pledge to secure the future of Saltdean Lido has been made today by Brighton & Hove City Council’s new administration.

The pledge was made by Councillor Geoffrey Bowden in response to residents’ concerns about the future of the iconic Grade 2 listed pool. 
“The council shares everyone’s passion for the Lido,” said Councillor Bowden.  “The argument is not about whether we save it – we all agree that we must.  The debate is about how best to do it.
“Going through the courts will be expensive, slow and, ultimately, may not work.
“The situation is very complex and we have a duty to be legally fair to everyone, including the current leaseholder.  However, we are determined to work with all those involved to protect and enhance the Lido for the future.”

From a council press release.
Save Saltdean Lido Campaign

In memory of the trolley bus

A Brighton Trolley bus at Fiveways

50 years ago today the last Brighton trolley bus ran its last journey back to the depot in Lewes Road; unhitched its poles and sat waiting for the scrapman. With that, the dismantling of the extensive infrastructure of overhead lines was set to begin. It is remarkable that 50 years on many of us still look back on the trolleybus era as embodying something  highly desirable, a "modern" & efficient form of city transport, yet regrettably consigned to the past like the moon-landings. 

Anyone who has ever travelled in these excellent vehicles will remember the quiet, vibration-free ride they provided.  Their smooth powerful acceleration away from stops, even up hills such as Elm Grove, was such that passengers could feel themselves being pressed back into their seats. This is not a sensation one is familiar with even on the most modern of diesel buses. Trolley buses  were clean and efficient and transferred all air pollution to the power station so that, if still in use today, they would gradually become greener concomitant with the means of energy production.

Trolleybuses were scrapped because with dropping passenger numbers they had begun operating at a loss. They were also said to lack flexibility as there was a limit to the number of buses you could have operating on the same route at the same time. One wonders however if the system might have been rejuvenated if, by some quirk of history, the overhead line system had been preserved for a few decades. The modern preoccupation with sustainability and pollution control could have provided just the incentive to look again at the trolleybus; and to design a modern version incorporating similar technical innovations to those used in hybrid vehicles.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The bandstand - before & after

The Brighton Society campaigned for 30 years for the restoration of the Bandstand. In the city council election year 1997 a local pressure group of Hove residents added their voice, and a new Conservative administration came to office promising to take action where the previous administration had failed. The restoration was duly carried out at a cost of nearly £1M, whereas if the job had been tackled years before, the cost would have only been of the order of £200K.

The surrounding area was also reorganised and refurbished and the mosaic paving abandoned in favour of resin-bonded coloured glass. The bandstand was officially reopened in 2009.

The Greens came to power this year, although without an overall majority, promising to restore and enhance the Valley Gardens area. It will be interesting to see if they can follow through.

Earlier posts:-
The Bandstand restored.
Brighton Bandstand.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The 1911 coronation

100 years ago, on the 22 June 1911, the country awoke on the coronation day of King George V and Queen Mary and it seems that Brighton had eagerly seized on the excuse for a celebration.

Read more: Royal Pavilion & Brighton Museums.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to inform the weatherman; not only did the sun not shine but the celebrations were shrouded in mist throughout.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Portslade Village on the cusp of change

Portslade Village in 1840, the same year that Portslade Railway Station opened and sparked urban development south to Copperas Gap and north to the Old Shoreham Road, eventually engulfing the village itself. The viewpoint appears to have been the Easthill.

By 1881 Portslade Farm, seen in the middle distance, was occupied by Martin Broomfield, his wife and 8 children, and the farm was being turned to market gardening to supply the burgeoning conurbations of Brighton, Hove & Portslade. Martin, descended from Sussex yeoman farmers had moved to Portslade in 1868 from Crawley Down, where he had been a Farm Bailey. He was a church worker, a keen cricketer and became a respected member of the Portslade community. His eldest son Martin opened a greengrocer's shop in Sydney Street, Brighton where he died early by falling through a trap-door. His youngest son Percy became a brick-layer, and was employed on the construction of Shoreham A Power Station. Percy's son Reginald also became a brick-layer, was employed on Shoreham B Power Station, and lived to see its last chimney fall from the viewpoint of his back garden in Southwick. Such is life. . . . . 

The painting which is on display in Hove Museum was by William Henry Earp, b.1831, who lived in Brighton and died in 1914. 

Friday, 24 June 2011

Western House & Embassy Court

Sometimes one can recognise to a few inches where a photo was taken from. At least 99 years separate these two views taken from the bandstand.  The top view shows the detached Regency villa, Western House, built in the 1830's. In 1919 William Wardorf Astor, the first Viscount Astor, died there.  It was demolished in 1930 and replaced in 1935 by Embassy Court, but apart from this, changes in the scene are few. 
In the top photo the Peace statue had yet to be erected in 1912 . In the 2011 photo it can be seen that the cast-iron lamp post is now sporting twin ornate electric lanterns which were added in the 1930's. It seems somewhat ironic that, at the time the modernist Embassy Court was being built, street furniture was being "up-dated' in the style of a bygone age.

Earlier post: Western House

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The College of Art - then & now

In 1876 the 'Brighton School of Art' moved to a new, yellow-brick, Italianate building in Grand Parade, seen just to the right of the trees, and became the 'School of Art & Science'. Since then it has had many names but College of Art seem a good approximation. It was enlarged in 1910 & 1914 and demolished in 1965 along with neighbouring properties.

The replacement building to a design by the Borough Architect, Percy Billington, opened in 1967. It has a gently-curved frontage which follows the line of the road and the design is generally admired. It now comprises one of the campuses of the  Faculty of Arts of the University of Brighton.

(It looks like the same tree in both photos but I don't see how it can be. In the 100 or so years that have elapsed it would surely now be of much larger girth.)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Charity Chuckle

At the Latest Music Bar, Manchester Street, Brighton, BN2 1TF.
Tel 01273 687171 

In aid of:-
Not to be missed.

Saltdean Lido petition

A new ePetition calling for action on the Lido has been filed on the Council website:- 

"We the undersigned petition 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 this Summer season. If there is failure of compliance of the aforementioned, we immediately expect the Council to revoke the lease with forfeiture for the current lease-holder."

The fact that this seems seems an obvious, completely reasonable request is already reflected in the number of signatures, 435, which is high for a local epetition. Please add your name if you agree.

Earlier posts:-

Sunday, 19 June 2011

London Road - then & now

Early 1900's
It is reassuring to be able to pick out some enduring features. The building on the corner of York Place &  Cheapside, once "dining rooms", now the Hobgoblin; St. Bartholomews of course, rising above even the taller rebuilds; and in the distance a terrace with its upper storeys still substantially unchanged.

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Level consultation

A council press release has published the results of the consultation, concluded earlier this year, on proposals for a major restoration and refurbishment of the Level. Everyone agrees this is badly needed, and the consultation showed overwhelming support for plans to build new toilets, a cafĂ© with indoor seating, a water fountain and to restore the Rose Walk.  A more contentious issue has been the location of the skate park.  Now however the results provide some hard facts to guide the planners.

55.1% (1,836) people support the proposal to move the current skate park to the north of Rose Walk:

while  the option to keep the skatepark in its current position, to the south of Rose walk is supported by only 33.4% (1,113) of respondents.  

11.5% (381 people) expressed no preference.  

A final decision on the Master Plan and skatepark location is now up to the  Environment Cabinet Member Meeting on July 5.  After the decision is made the council will finalise plans and submit its final and competitive second round ‘Parks for People’ application in August. The result will be announced in January 2012.  

The skatepark is not included in the ‘Parks for People’ bid, but once a decision on the location is made on July 5, the council will be working closely with the Brighton & Hove Skateparks Association (BHSA) on the final designs and on bids for additional funding.  

Earlier posts:-

Extinguished splendour

The former Royal Newburgh Assembly Rooms, 1 St. Margaret's Place, appear not to have been touched since the 1960's. At that time it had been divided into a number of flats and when the massive Metropole redevelopment took place this Grade II listed building was thoroughly restored and repainted. According to Carder, the building is now only a shell, the interior forming part of the Metropole Exhibition Halls; which would of course, account for its forelorn appearance. 

The Assembly Room was built by Amon Henry Wilds,  and William IV is said to have attended the opening. They became a social centre for the western town for many years and once had a splendid ballroom attached at the far end. This was demolished in the 1960's to be replaced by the service entrance just visible at the right of the photo.

The doorway seen to the left of the photo is to 31 Cannon Place (also listed). In the Council's list of listed buildings there is also mention of a no. 32 which appears to have disappeared. I wonder if anyone has told them?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tarner Park & Tower

A new website has been set up "The Tower of Tarner" which has, as one of its worthy objectives, the recording of  the restoration of the tower. It would be good to see the tower capable of being opened occasionally for its original purpose as an observation tower.

One of the posts "Myth Busting Tarner Tower"on the new website, sheds light on some inconsistenceies in the potted history provided by Timothy Carder in "Encyclopaedia of Brighton". Apparently there was once a taller tower at "Tower House" at the top of Sussex Street, now almost lost to memory even though it wasn't demolished until the 1960s.  It is evident that it is to this tower that the EOB refers, but over time it has become conflated with the surviving tower.

I fear the view of the sea from the surviving Tower will now be largely blocked by the new American Express building. I hope I am wrong.

Previous post: The Tarner Tower

Connaught School makes a comeback

Shrouded in scaffolding but on target to reopen in September,  the classic victorian building, designed by local architect Thomas Simpson, is being given a new lease of life. Even better news is that it is will not live on as an awkwardly converted block of apartments, or worse, but as a modernised building serving the community as originally intended, in the field of education.

Read Argus report.

Thanks to an initiative by the Brighton Society the building is now Grade II listed by English Heritage.

Earlier posts:
16 Ship Street
A new school for Hove?
More calls for primary school at Hove's Connaught Centre
Connaught Centre update

Monday, 13 June 2011

Amex Stadium car park

A 1.41 acre, wedge-shaped piece of land sandwiched between the A27 and the railway land at Falmer has been assigned to the Amex Stadium on a 125 year lease at market value. It is for use as a car-park, which it has been for some time, so this announcement appears only to formalise the situation. 

The car park is for 119 spaces and would provide parking on match days for staff and players at the football club, as well as people with disabilities attending matches. On non-match days the stadium can use the car park for staff and visitors.  Since the railway line runs between the car park and the stadium, it is quite difficult to see how disabled visitors will complete their journey but I suppose the stadium planners have that covered. 

Use of the land is in line with the existing planning consent for the stadium which includes consent to provide a car park on land which was previously let as part of the Park Wall farm tenancy.   

Council press release.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Hove Station footbridge

The recent refurbishment of Hove Station, which included the installation of glazed panels to the canopies, has produced a great improvement in station users' experience.  However, it has thrown into even sharper relief the shabby state of the pedestrian footbridge, which still seems to flourish the grime of the age of steam. One wonders, in fact, if it has ever been cleaned and repainted in the 100+ years of its existence. 

There are periodic calls for "something to be done", the latest in February by Green councillor Alex Phillips, and the Brighton & Hove Green Party has set up a petition which to date has  received just 14 signatures. The maintenance of the Grade II listed, victorian footbridge, which is a public right-of-way, is in fact the responsibility of the City Council. It will be interesting to see how the Greens, now that they are the largest party on the Council, intend to respond to their own petition.

One can see the difficulties. Although it is a public right of way, the exterior of the bridge can only be accessed from Network Rail property, and that with difficulty. It will not be a quick or cheap undertaking but it will surely need to be tackled soon.

Friday, 10 June 2011

The changing face of Kingsway 3

A planning application (BH2011/01120) has been submitted for the demolition and redevelopment of the Lawnscroft Nursing Home on the southeast corner of Princes Crescent with Kingsway The existing building is now in a much worse condition to that shown above. All the windows are out and there appears to have been a fire on the first floor.

The proposed replacement building is in brick, cream render, with stainless steel and glass balustrades It is  designed by DWA Architects. On Kingsway its 5 storeys takes it to the same height as the neighbouring Princess Marina hotel. On Princes Crescent it steps down to 3 storeys. Perhaps the overhanging roofs look rather awkward but otherwise it turns the corner neatly and harmonises well with the neighbouring buildings. 

Previous Posts:-

Move to dispose of Patcham Place

The council-owned Patcham Place was one of two buildings shortlisted by the South Downs National Park for its headquarters but the new authority has now chosen Capron House in Midhurst. Midhurst is very close to the geographic centre of the Park. The city council does not have sufficient funds to refurbish the Grade II* listed building, and, following approval by the cabinet meeting on, 9th June, Patcham Place has been declared surplus to requirements. It is now to be marketed on a long lease as part of the council’s asset management process.

A planning brief has been prepared to ensure the building is renovated sensitively and the green spaces surrounding it will remain under council control for public use. Also included on the 1.7 acre site is a Grade II listed stable block, currently used as a parks depot and badly in need of some t.l.c.

The capital raised from the disposal will be re-invested in the council’s capital and value for money programmes, for the benefit of residents.

Council press release here.

Council buildings to get solar panels

Schools, offices and car parks will become mini electricity-generating stations under one of the biggest programmes of solar panel installation so far seen in Brighton & Hove. The city council has drawn up a list of 40 non-residential properties, including schools, office buildings, leisure centres and multi-storey car parks, as ideal sites for photovoltaic (PV) panels. Officials have  twenty three thought likely to be money-spinners, with another 17 regarded as ‘possibles’.  Among those thought to be most promising are Blatchington Mill School, Russell Road car park and the Prince Regent swimming complex.

In a separate move, the authority is also looking at using council homes and blocks of flats, potentially increasing the number of buildings generating power.

From a City Council press release.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Brighton Picture Gallery - then & now

Brighton Picture Gallery was created, 1867-73, out of Queen Adelaide's riding stables by Philip Lockwood, the Corporation Surveyor. It was the first purpose-designed municipal gallery in the country. (The first purpose-built public gallery was at Dulwich, designed by Sir John Sloane). The walls were still hung with large ornately framed pictures, maybe some of the ones seen here, right up until the major 1998-2001 refurbishment.

The millenium refurbishment was generally hailed as a great success, and certainly this gallery is now a vastly more welcoming space, but the amount of art & artefacts on display, here and throughout the Museum, is only a fraction of what was once available. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

16 York Place

Much has been done over the last few years to improve the appearance of York Place, opposite St. Peter's. Towards the south end  there are several mathematically-tiled frontages which have now been carefully restored and, to the north end,  properties have been rebuilt in the original, early 19th.C, style. No. 16 however, seen here to the right of the former Pelham Street schools entrance, has been unoccupied and derelict for years. A tangle of branches obscures the building at the back, and the front has a large delapidated hoarding and vegetation growing out of the historic cobble-fronted wall.

The building itself is within the Valley Gardens Conservation Area which includes the Royal Pavilion and is part of a parade of shops with residential above.

In May the council served a Section 215 notice on Harwood Properties Ltd with the instruction to carry out extensive repairs on no.16; to remove the hoarding, repaint all the external timberwork, re-install the shopfront and remove overgrown vegetation. The notice came into effect on 1 June 2011 and the owner has three months from then to carry out the work. From the apparent parlous state of the property it will be none too soon.

Council press release.

A bicker about buses

I had my first experience of one of Brighton's new Volvo buses today. They are roomy, have easy stairs,   reassuring grab handles, comfortable seats: but I was astonished to see that the latter had all been fitted with seat belts. Bearing in mind that the chance of a bus passenger fatality is 13 million to 1 and the proportion of these that occur while the passenger is sitting down, even unbelted, must be vanishingly small, I can only imagine that Volvo must have had a lot of these seats surplus to its express coach production line.

Commonsense suggests that most injuries to bus passengers occur when they are getting on or off the bus. If the bus driver is to wait until every passenger is seated, and belted up, before moving off, and every passenger waits until the bus stops to unbelt, all the hard-won reductions in journey times will be shot to pieces.   

I can also not make any sense of the warning notice on the back of every seat. I suppose we must attribute that to Swedish/English translation difficulties.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Preeces Buildings

The Surf & Ski shop in Church Street was once the premises of the Brighton Herald printers. Its side wall visible above the gated opening marks one side of a closed court, which, up until demolition in 1936, contained a terrace of twelve mean cottages known as Preeces Buildings. These cottages shared four leanto privies on the opposite side of the court. Entrance to the court was much narrower than that shown here and passed under the first floor of a building which the modern (1970s) development on the left has since replaced. 

Photos of Preeces Buildings can be seen in the James Gray collection.:-

Friday, 3 June 2011

149/151 Kingsway, Hove

In September last year Council officers were in contact with the owner of the left-hand pair of these  semi-detached properties on Kingsway asking them to improve the appearance of their property. See post here. It now appears that some action is imminent. A planning application BH2011/01435 has been submitted for loft conversions with dormer windows matching those previously created on the right-hand pair of properties, nos.145/147. Also, the garage at no.149 is to be converted to an habitable room with the addition of a bow-window to match that already formed at no.151 (just visible on extreme left).

It almost seems as if the hopes I expressed in my earlier post "The changing face of Kingsway" have been taken into consideration, and that the future of these survivors, amongst all the apartment blocks, will be assured for a little longer. Sooner or later they may become as much admired for their period features as Regency architecture is today.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Life at Preston Manor

Local history made easy . . . . From the City Council's YouTube channel.

A local treasure

A stunningly beautiful enamel-on-silver vessel by Brighton-based enameller Jane Short, MA RCA, with a design locally inspired by pebbles, the sea, night skies, swans at Cuckmere Haven and the release of dolphins from Brighton Aquarium. The vessel is in the collection of Hove Museum and is currently on display in the Contemporary Craft gallery. Jane Short is acclaimed as one of Britain's finest artists/craftpersons.

It is sobering to know that the earliest examples of enamelling date back to the 13th.C BCE and even the subtle techniques used today can be traced back about two thousand years.