Friday, 24 July 2015

Valley Gardens vacillations

It seems as if the new Council, desperate to meet pre-election promises to revisit the Valley Gardens plans,  have lit on the lack of information on weekend/holiday traffic. This has given them the excuse to put the project on hold while they commission a report. But it is difficult to see exactly what information could turn up that we don't already have. This was probably the line taken by the original planners. It is a matter of simple observation that on many weekends or bank holidays the route is at saturation level with traffic queuing all the way back to Patcham and beyond.

The bulk of holiday/weekend traffic can only get into Brighton one vehicle at a time because of the deliberately introduced “throttle” at Carden Avenue. It is then single lane all the way to Stanford Avenue. It is evident that capacity is limited by factors outside the Valley Gardens area and at peak times it is unavoidable that traffic will be queuing, sometimes north beyond Patcham roundabout.

Valley Gardens is about 0.5 miles long. From Old Steine to Patcham is about 3.5 miles. The effect of reducing the traffic to a single lane along the east side of Valley Gardens, will be to add a maximum 0.5 miles to the north end of any queue. On peak traffic days,  when the traffic is queueing to Patcham, it lengthens the queue by just 14% but the exhaust pollution along the Valley Gardens is halved and the vehicles displaced to the end of the queue are exhausting fumes into much more open, less inhabited, surroundings than exist along Grand Parade and Richmond Place.

It is difficult to see that extra traffic reports can produce substantially different conclusions. What the Council must be hoping is that a possibility for some minor tweak is discovered, so allowing them to save face and proceed with
a scheme that basically seems the best that can be achieved under the circumstances.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

"A Stormy Day at Brighton"

Many Brightonians will be familiar with this 1905 oil by Charles Conder (1868-1909) in Brighton Museum. They may also have puzzled over the title since it is obviously not Brighton and nothing about it is clearly recognisable. Brighton does not have any cliffs to the west so the nearest place it might be is Rottingdean. But Rottingdean did not become part of Brighton until 1928. On the other hand the stubby pier could well be the remains of the Daddy-Longlegs railway which ceased operation in 1900. Or perhaps the title could simply be attributed to artistic licence.

Conder had an, 'interesting' but short life. Born in England he emigrated to Australia in 1884 where he founded an Australian art movement. He returned to Europe in 1890 and died of syphilis 19 years later in Holloway Sanatorium.

Another Conder oil, "A Windy day at Brighton" showing what seems to be the same pier as in the previous painting. The figure on the right is thought to be Walter Sickert.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Restored arches win award

A scheme to reinforce a section of the A259 trunk road and restore a row of historic fishermen’s arches on Brighton seafront has won a Sussex Heritage Trust Award for outstanding conservation work. All the original structures had to be demolished and recreated using steel-reinforced concrete.

To restore the arches specially-made bricks were used along with hand-crafted wooden doors and window frames.   New cast iron railings were made using traditional techniques and Victorian patterns. The project by Brighton & Hove City Council has created shops and a public toilet from 26 Victorian arches beneath the upper prom.

Work on the £3.5m scheme started in November 2012 and completed when the shops began opening last summer.

In a second phase, a further 33 arches further east are now being restored and due for reopening in summer 2016.

Boarded up arches to the east of the West Pier site.
See also: Seafront repairs ongoing.

i360 progress

It seems to be at 8 cans up with 9 still to go, which will more than double the present height.

Proposed south elevation
When standing at the north end of Regency Square I always used to feel vaguely disappointed that the old West Pier was not exactly aligned on the centre-line of the Square. It seems that the i360 designers have decided to perpetuate this anomaly. I don't suppose there is any chance of getting them to alter it now so I shall let it ride.

See also: "The growing i360."

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Brighton Story - 1955 film

Despite the somewhat twee presentation this 20 min. film provides a fascinating glimpse into Brighton just 10 years after the war, which surprisingly, had left the Madeira Terraces, and both piers largely intact.

The film won an award in the 1957 Edinburgh but afterwards was lost. The negative was finally traced by BBC Radio Brighton and prints made with the financial support of ITT Creed and Brighton Public Libraries.

The film stars the classical actor Alec Clunes, father of Martin Clunes. It is made available by the British Film Institute.