Tuesday, 30 October 2012

96 Trafalgar Street

These terraced houses with shops were grade ll listed in 1999. Built of brick, now painted, they date from the mid-C19 with C20 shop fronts.  The upper floors have curved and slightly recessed 'blanked windows', seemingly a favourite way of turning a corner at that time. Except for canted bays to the first floor windows on Trafalgar Street, the windows have brick camber arches ; one sash-window of original design remains on the second floor in Trafalgar Street. The building forms a group with houses on the corner of Pelham Square, opposite, and Trafalgar Street, also listed.

Brighton in 3 minutes.

Filmed  with a rate of 15 fps and over 30,000 photos by Ash Lomas.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Open Day at the Engineerium

Boiler room
For the first time for several years the Engineerium held an Open Day on Sunday. All entrance fees were donated to the Chestnut Tree Children's Hospice. It seems to have been very well-attended and have given visitors the chance to view the extensive refurbishment and development work in progress.

The Engineerium and its contents were saved a from auction and dispersal a few years ago by local entrepreneur Mr Mike Holland, seen above in conversation with 'Thomas Hawksley', victorian designer of the pumping station, who had kindly reincarnated to provide visitors with guided tours. They are seen in what was the coal store, converted to an exhibition hall in the 1970's and now destined to become a restaurant and bar.

N0.2 Pumping Engine
The boilers were in steam and the no.2 Pumping Engine, in beautiful condition, was  demonstrating its stately, intricate actions.

The new brick work blends seamlessly with the original.
A new skylight to what will become a new Exhibition Hall
The Engineerium across Hove Park
It is intended to open the Engineerium every Sunday throughout the winter.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Crown Gardens

Looking north along Crown Gardens
30 Crown Gardens looking south
Crown Gardens is one of Brighton's famous twittens running between North Road and Church Street, and lying parallel to Queen's Road, which it probably predates. According to the Encyclopaedia of Brighton it was built in the 1820's for employees of the Royal Pavilion and Stables.  To the left of the twitten in the top photo, the original bow-windowed cottages have been replaced by a modern terrace backing on to Kew Street. However on the right hand side several original houses still remain including no.30 and an old length of walling.

Most of the old properties appear in good conditon and occupied but no. 30 has been allowed to fall into disrepair and the inevitable application to demolish has been filed; see planning application BH2012/02601. This calls for the replacement of no.30, and its 'back' yard, with a terrace of 3 modern terraced houses. The ancient wall will disappear. 

So the sanitisation of old Brighton moves inexorably on . . .

Monday, 22 October 2012

16 York Place - then & now

Then being June 2011:-

(See earlier post 16 York Place)

October 2012:-

The building has been nicely restored and given a sympathetic shopfront. The upper floors appear occupied but the shop awaits a tenant. York Place is being slowly but steadily upgraded but one wishes the Planning Department would exercise more control over shop fascia signs. Many of the existing ones appear unnecessarily large and garish for small 19th century properties.

The elegant red brick arch marks the original entrance to Pelham Street School, designed 1876 by Thomas Simpson, Surveyor and Architect to the Brighton & Preston School Board. The arch is not done any favours by the unfortunate positioning of the large road traffic sign. York Place lies within the Valley Gardens CA and to the south of this point several of its buildings are grade ll listed.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Van Alen penthouse proposal

View from Pier
Planning Application BH2012/03157 proposes a side extension on the westernmost penthouse flat of the much-praised Van Alen building on Marine Parade. For the observer it will amount to a white almost cube added on the side terrace on the extreme left of the building. See plan below.

The extension will not be visible from the street but in the view from the pier will clearly upset to some extent the wall/window rhythm of the building. In the past, and all along the seafront, a motley collection of accretions have been allowed to the roofs of many fine buildings not least the decapitation of the Metropole. The extension proposed is, by comparison, a minor blemish. But the Van Alen has become a prestigious example of good modern architecture in Brighton and is still as the architect envisaged it. Perhaps the time has come for the planners to say 'no'.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Blackbird Tea Rooms

Brighton Bits doesn't normally advertise but it is good to see an attractive old building 30 Ship Street nicely restored and put to an appropriate use.


One hopes it will succeed.

The two adjoining proerties to the left 28 & 29 Ship St. are Grade II listed:-
"Terraced houses, now shops. Early C19. Brick painted and stucco, roof obscured by parapet. 3 storeys, one-window range. Ground floor has late C20 shop fronts; upper floors have segmental bays and tripartite windows with sashes apparently of original design; the segmental bays appear to be very heavily renewed, despite the apparent survival of the glazing bars; parapet."
28 & 29 Ship Street

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Council to open farmland to public

The Downs near Patcham
More than 800 acres of farmland owned by Brighton and Hove City Council will be opened to the public indefinitely.

The council said it had owned land around the city, in Ditchling Road, Old Patcham Court Farm and Plumpton, for many years.

However, there has been limited access for visitors.

The Green-led administration said it had negotiated public access with farmers who currently have tenancies on the land.

Councillor Pete West said: "Downland is a wonderful resource and now these areas owned by the city will be open in perpetuity to walkers, sightseers, birdwatchers, runners, and others looking to enjoy it."

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Level Restoration begins.

A last look at the old Level
A much anticipated project to regenerate and transform a communal space in the heart of Brighton city centre – at The Level – gets underway next week: 15 October 2012.  Work to provide a package of improvements, including a new playground, skatepark and cafĂ©, is due for completion next summer.

A final community event will be held at The Level this Saturday, 13 October 2012, from 12 noon to 4pm, providing an afternoon of fun for park users and local residents.  There will be games and sports activities, a skate jam, and the Play Bus will be there offering a range of children’s play activities.

There will also be a chance for people to meet the contractors and the council’s parks team, to learn more about the project; find out about opportunities for volunteering at the new-look park when it reopens; share memories of The Level with a historian recording the history of the park; and meet community artists who are creating a new piece of artwork. Some of the council’s sheep will also be on site with their shepherd.

Jan Jonker, Brighton & Hove City Council’s head of strategy and projects, says: “Local people have been involved throughout the planning stages of the project and we hope many more residents will come down to The Level on Saturday to enjoy some entertainment before the work gets underway.  Once completed, the area will be an attractive space, in one of the busiest parts of the city, for all ages to enjoy.”

Friday, 5 October 2012

North Street - then & now

(Or, how to destroy an urban landscape in one easy step)

Early 1900s

The Countess of Huntingdon's church provided an emphatic architectural punctuation mark in the scene, drawing the eye in and adding drama. The church was built in 1871 and the spire demolished in 1969. The resulting view is bland and uninteresting, notwithstanding that road-widening on the right hand side has revealed a glimpse of the red-brick Chapel Royal.

Other towns do things differently. In Horsham, massive development by Sun Alliance in the historic town centre, which required demolition of the redundant St. Mark's Church, was not allowed to include the spire.

The Carfax, Horsham
The spire was of no particular architectural merit but its importance to the streetscape was recognised and its preservation required by Council planners.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Old Town improvements - update

At their meeting on 2 October the Transport Committee decided to go ahead with a scheme designed to create a more comfortable environment for pedestrians throughout the Old Town. This involves:-
  • Closing the junction of Ship Street and North Street to vehicles;
  • Closing East Street to all vehicles between 11am and 7pm daily;
  • Closing Boyce’s Street to through traffic while maintaining access for residents and businesses;
  • Closing Prince Albert Street to traffic between Ship Street and Black Lion Street.
Over the summer the council consulted residents, businesses and visitors on two proposals to further improve the Old Town for the hundreds of thousands of people that live, work and visit the area every year. The scheme follows on from improvements already made to King's Road between Middle Street and Black Lion Street.

The recommendations were drawn up in response to feedback from local people. A number of local businesses called for the closure of East Street for part of the day as they felt it would improve the character of the street, attract more people in and benefit trade. Businesses, residents and Middle Street School also petitioned the council to close Boyce’s Street.
East Street
At present the west side of East Street is particularly uncomfortable for pedestrians sandwiched as they are between parked cars and the shop -fronts on a narrow pavement.

 The improvement scheme is scheduled to start next January.

Following the scheme’s introduction the council plans to continue working with local businesses on ways to further improve the area’s appearance and loading arrangements.

Earlier posts:-
Old Town improvements
Old Town traffic

Monday, 1 October 2012

Solar 'trees' for Volks railway

The world’s oldest operating electric railway is set to become the world’s first solar powered electric railway.

Brighton and Hove City Council which operates the line  plans five large solar “trees” on Madeira Drive,
a new train shed with solar panels on the roof and a public viewing gallery inside and an all-weather train providing shelter for passengers.

The aim is to keep the railway open for business all year round using state-of-the-art sustainable power and ensure its long term future. Extending the opening hours and enabling the railway to operate all year round is expected to generate additional income through fares.

The cost of the proposed work is expected to be about £1.5million, most of which will be met by grant funding. The council is looking to invest £245,000 in the developments.

The Volks railway currently uses a maximum of 29,000 kw/h of electricity per year to run.  Solar trees and panels on the new train shed will create between 32,000 kw/h and 38,000 kw/h per year depending on sunshine levels. This will provide enough electricity for existing service and the new train to run and provide a saving to the council in electricity bills of £6000 per year.

The expansion will also create jobs, including construction work roles during the development and railway staff when the project is complete. The improvements are also anticipated to boost tourism trade and improve access for visitors to businesses along the seafront.

A planning application has been submitted today with a decision due in November. If the plans are approved, the work will be carried out during the winter season of 2013. The revamped railway is set to open at the traditional start of the season in Easter 2014.

Early 1900's