Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Featherstone Kite-flying Machine

As part of the forthcoming exhibition "The Magical Machines of Rowland Emmett" the Featherstone Kite-flying Machine has swooped into Brighton Museum.

In addition the Exploratory Lunacycle has brought its rock samples to Hove Museum, the Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper is cleaning in the Booth Museum, and the "Fairway Birdie" is playing golf at Ditchling Museum.

Can't wait to see them all in operation.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Commemorative Plaque Panel

In the past there have been a number of ways in which significant people, buildings or events have been commemorated in the City. Brighton Borough Council and Hove Borough Council both operated Commemorative Plaque Schemes, installing one or two plaques each year, until the authority became Unitary in 1997.

An Eric Gill stone tablet

Brighton first installed a plaque in 1925. The Regency Society has installed plaques around the city since 1952 and undertaken a detailed audit of the existing 103+ commemorative plaques. Other societies (e.g. Kipling Society, Co-operative Society) have also sponsored plaques. A few have been erected by private subscription.

A slate tablet

The plaques are in many different styles and in varying states of repair, some almost unreadable. Brighton Borough Council originally presented them as stone tablets, designed by Eric Gill and subsequently in tablets of slate.

A Regency Society plaque

Hove installed metal plaques with a blue enamel finish and the Regency Society have mainly installed blue ceramic plaques not dissimilar to the English Heritage style.

In February 2006 a report was presented to the Tourism & Culture Sub-Committee recommending the formation of a Commemorative Plaque Panel (CPP) as part of a more unified approach to the selection, design, installation and maintenance of plaques. Suggestions for new plaques were solicited from the public and the first meeting  of the Plaque Panel took place in Spring 2006. This Panel was, and still substantially is, formed of the following:-
  • - Regency Society Representative
  • - Hove Civic Society Representative
  • - Kemp Town Society representative
  • - Brighton Society Representative
  • - Kingscliffe Society Representative
  • - Montpelier and Clifton Hill Society Representative
  • - Culture and Tourism Committee Representative
  • - Head of Tourism (Secretary to the Panel)
  • - Community Representative
  • - Media Representative
  • - English Heritage Representative
  • - Two Community Representatives with local history expertise.
Initially the Tourism Department, now VisitBrighton, provided a sum of
£1000 p.a. to introduce a conservative scheme. It was expected that this would provide for one new plaque per annum or the refurbishment of one existing plaque. Since 2006, thanks mainly to the generosity of sponsors, the hoped-for number of new plaques has been well achieved and, notwithstanding the current financial constraints on Council spending, the future of the CPP seems assured.

The first plaque in which the CPP was involved
See illustrated page "Commemorative Plaques" for comprehensive list of plaques installed under the aegis of the CPP.

Further info. at:- Visit Brighton - Blue Plaques

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Thomas Simpson plaque unveiled.

The City Mayor, Cr.Brian Fitch, unveiling the plaque today at the Connaught School, Hove

Brighton & Hove's own architectural hero, working from two rooms in his family home in Ship Street, designed 17 of the City's Victorian Board schools 13 of which are still providing sterling service and 5 are Grade II listed. He concurrently raised 7 children, played the piano and the organ in the local chapel. Two of his sons also became architects including the world-famous Sir John Simpson, designer of Roedean. He also trained the architects Clayton & Black who were an important influence in Brighton's architecture from 1900 onwards.

Direct descendant Melanie Simpson, left. watches her mother Elsa cutting the celebratory cake. Ninka Willcock, Simpson historian, is on Elsa's right. Extreme right, Roger Amerena, Heritage Commissioner. 

The plaque was the result of an initiative by the Brighton Society which launched a successful public appeal last year. Donations were received from the Regency Society, Hove Civic Society & The Brighton & Hove Heritage Commission. The Commemorative Plaque Panel provided advice and administrative support.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Cobblestone walls

In Little East Street.

In Brighton many cobblestone walls were traditionally tarred black, probably to waterproof the mortar to some extent and, with quoins picked out in white or cream. This highlights the historic construction technique and the overall effect is pleasing.

Mighell Street Farmhouse

Occasionally cobbles and quoins are left bare. Perhaps this occurs in more expensive properties where the work has been carried out to a higher standard and imperfections do not need to be concealed.

In either case the architectural heritage is preserved.

The modern expedient of painting over cobbles and quoins with one colour, perhaps for reasons of economy, only partially conceals history and  is not a good look

In Church Street.
In East Street.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Valley Gardens landscaping

Application BH2015/00491, submitted by the Council, has some helpful visualisations of the hard and soft landscaping works planned for Victoria Gardens, north and south, and the grounds of St. Peters Church.

Public square with fountain to the south of St. Peter's.
(car park relocated to the north of the church)
Looking north west towards the King & Queen showing footpaths, cycle paths, stream and new plantings. 
Looking north-west across south garden towards the Art College.
Looking south-east across Church Street showing bus parkway

North of St. Peter's looking south-west towards York Place
Looking north across St.George's Place
Target decision date is the 29th June. One hopes the forthcoming elections won't put a spanner in the works . . .

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Hove Seaside Villas revisited

July 2011
April 2015
No.1 'Millionaires Row', originally the home of the developer Michael Puget Baxter and his wife, has undergone an extensive renovation over the last few years transforming it into a state-of-the-art modern, luxury home. Unfortunately, in the process, it has lost the quirky, castellated roof-line which so instantly signalled its Edwardian origins. Apparently this was on the advice of a planning officer to the architects*. As a result of this the owner now has a building indistinguishable, except for its location, from any of hundreds of other modern houses up and down the country.

Castellations, visible from Kingsway, still remain on the westernmost villas
No.4, also much modified, has recently come on the market for £4M. See Argus report.

*Conran & Partner

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Harold Turner in Hove

Harold George Turner, 1885 - 1961, started his career in the Brighton Borough Engineer's office in the 1900s. During WW1 he entered the family firm of Box & Turner and in 1920 set up his own architectural practice in Haywards Heath.

By the 1930's his style had crystallised into Sussex farmhouse vernacular, with references to the Arts & Craft showing in windows, chimneys and detailing and in the high quality of the interior fixtures and fittings. 

Such was the popularity of Turner's style that his houses are to be seen all over Haywards Heath and in the wider mid Sussex area including Eastbourne. They are always identifiable by the curly gutter brackets that were his signature.

In Brighton & Hove many of his houses can be seen in the Barrowfield estate in the Tongdean CA, a selection of which are shown below.

It is difficult to know how much of the original interiors have survived. Perhaps one day a proud owner will include their property on the Heritage Open Days programme? 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

North Street progress

New kerbstones being laid on south side of North Street
The 'after' view with widened footways, trees, seats and a new pedestrian crossing.

Modern architecture - Tongdean Avenue

A nicely restrained 5 bedroom house replaced a conventional pitched-roof bungalow about 4 years ago. Makes me think 'Frank Lloyd Wright'.
Architect: Morgan Carn Partnership, Stanford Avenue.

Related post: Modern architecture - Cliff Road