Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Festive Lights

Kensington Gardens 
Duke's Lane
Brighton Square
Brighton Place
Druids Head
Market Street
East Street
North Street.

Diplock's Yard

Diplock's Yard, 73 North Road

North Road began to be built up in the 1820s and the first street directory in which it appears is for 1867.  In that year number 73 is occupied by the Regent Iron & Brass Foundry, and it continued being used in the iron trade until c1892. From 1895 to c1916 it was occupied by a plumber.  In c1895 David Diplock a "truck proprietor" sited his business there. It remained in the Diplock family until 1975, hiring out small barrows and trucks. In 1958 it was being operated by the Misses Diplock.

Last year Diplock's Yard was the subject of a planning application to erect a part single, part two storey building to provide 8 office units. The application was refused, and an appeal against the refusal was dismissed.

So Diplock's Yard remains an historic yard to widen our shopping experiences and enliven our streets.

Addendum: 20 Dec. 2016. My optimism proved to be unfounded.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

The Preston & Patcham Society - a new website

The Preston and Old Patcham Society was founded in 1973. Their work is concerned with maintaining a sense of continuity in the community and matters related to conservation issues.

The Society embraces the area between Ditchling Road, Springfield Road, Dyke Road, Snakey Lane, Patcham village, Withdean, Westdean, Varndean and the surrounding downland.


Thursday, 24 November 2016

Westdene Library

One of Brighton’s far-flung community libraries, Westdene in Bankside, has been spruced up and re-opens at 9am on November 29.   It has been closed for alterations to create a new classroom for Westdene Primary School next door.

Under the council’s Libraries Extra initiative it will now be open seven days a week and staffed on Tuesdays.  On other days library members can enter with their library card and PIN number. Facilities include a range of books, electronic media, computers, printing and free wifi.  There is also a new public toilet.

The library will also be on the lookout for volunteers.  For information on this or any other aspects of the library visit or call 01273 290800.

The opening hours are:-

Monday - 9am to 7pm (Libraries Extra)
Tuesday - 9am to 5pm
​Wednesday - 9am to 7pm (Libraries Extra)
Thursday - 9am to 5pm (Libraries Extra)
Friday - 9am to 5pm (Libraries Extra)
Saturday - 9.30am to 5pm (Libraries Extra)
Sunday - 11am to 5pm (Libraries Extra)

Thanks to 'Libraries Extra' Brighton is  bucking a national trend where access to libraries is shrinking due to budget cuts. Most Brighton & Hove community libraries are now operating ‘Libraries Extra’ scheme which provides:-
- a dedicated phone helpline
​- easy-to-use self-service kiosks to borrow and return items
- volunteer help on some days
​- constant monitoring by a security company with CCTV and live audio
- a dedicated intercom to the security company in case of emergency

To use Libraries Extra, members need to upgrade their membership card for free at their local library. They must bring two proofs of identity, one with an address, and agree to new terms and conditions of membership.

'Blue' Plaques - a web page

Brighton's blue plaques, of which there are more than 120 and increasing, now have their own webpage on the Council's 'Visit Brighton' website. 

The link is:-

On this page you can find a link to download a complete list of plaques grouped by area.

For a list of plaque names in alphabetical order see also:-

On the website you can also find out how to nominate someone for a blue plaque and a link to download a nomination form.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The 'Skylight' - The Age of Quirky?

Bartholomew Square from the south-east

With proposed 'Skylight' 

Moshimo's planning application BH2016/03008 details a highly innovative extension to its Bartholomew Square ground-level premises. However the site is within the Old Town Conservation Area and this may have been the main reason that  the city's Conservation Advisory Group recommended refusal of the application. In spite of this the plans have now been approved by the Chairwoman of the Planning Committee. This has provoked much concern amongst the City's conservation/amenity societies.

Yet the proposals are for a superimposed,  essentially transient structure which requires no visible alterations to the bland 1980s buildings on which it sits. Whether its presence enhances or detracts from those is a matter of trivial opinion.  It is certainly in striking contrast to the neighbouring Victorian Town Hall but standing in the best position to admire the frontage puts the Skylight behind you. Nor will the Skylight be visible from Market Street. Consultee Historic England considers the Skylight has the "potential to radically enhance and uplift Bartholomew Square by providing an exciting new attraction".

The 'Skylight' from the north-west

View now.
The most intrusive and potentially damaging view of the planned Skylight Restaurant is from the corner of Black Lion Street and Prince Albert Street as shown in the above visualisation. Being two-dimensional this view probably exaggerates the impact somewhat. The end of the Skylight is, in fact, set back from the Zizzi corner by about 55 metres. This spatial displacement would be immediately apparent to the passer-by in the street. Historic England acknowledges that views are kinetic and, as one passes along the street the Skylight quickly disappears again.  In fact the transient glimpse of the Skylight from Prince Albert Street will provide a dramatic dialogue between old and new and could result in a net enhancement of the streetscape. Another mitigating factor is that the 'box' is to be glazed and reflective of the sky. 

View into Bartholomew Square from Market Street.
The Skylight is hidden on the RH side.

Judging by the extraordinary changes in London's skyline over the last few decades it seems as if we are living in the Age of the Quirky. Perhaps we should determine to accept new developments that may bring benefits while, in the manner of an observation wheel, not entailing irreversible alterations to the existing architecture.

See also: The 'Skylight' proposal.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Clarence Yard & Poplar Place

The above photo show a view across what was once known as 'Poplar Place' into Clarence Yard. The viewpoint is from the west end of what is destined to become the new 'Hannington Lane'. Poplar Place was named after a row of poplar trees which once grew down the centre of the lane. It is now part of 'Meeting House Lane' and the only evidence of its existence is in the slowly disintegrating nameplate above the corner shop.

August 2013
November 2016
Clarence Yard has no street nameplate but is first mentioned in the 1846 street directory when it contained a wheelwright and a coachsmith. One can just begin to visualise the vibrant scene it must once have presented with the clatter of coaches, passengers, trunks being loaded/unloaded, ostlers caring for the horses, and the noises of the workshops. Even in 1973 the yard still housed a motor engineer. Now it only has a tattoo parlour. 

It would seem to be especially worthwhile in a tourist area to preserve some evidence and ambience of the past. Ceramic tile nameplates, of the type shown, where individual letters are housed in a cast iron frame are being restored by the Brighton & Hove Heritage Commission in other parts of the city.  Perhaps they have 'Poplar Place' already on their list. Perhaps even 'Clarence Yard' could be dignified with its own period-style nameplate.

Previous post:- The Clarence

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The 2017 outdoor events programme

Pride, Preston Park 
An Oktoberfest German beer festival, a new hub for the Brighton Fringe and a programme of events to celebrate LGBT History Month are among the range of outdoor events being planned for Brighton & Hove next year.

Members of the council’s Economic Development and Culture Committee are being asked to give landlord's consent for a varied programme of events planned for the city’s parks and open spaces, at a meeting tomorrow.

The 2017 proposed programme includes regular events, such as Pride, the city’s biggest event attracting 150,000 people, the Brighton Marathon in April, now established as one of the leading marathons in the country, and the return of the Brighton International Triathlon, held for the first time in the city last year.

Promoters of the popular Together the People Festival in Preston Park have asked the council for permission to add an extra day, September 1, to provide opportunities for more local artists to perform, and the Coles Funfair and fireworks event, which attracted 4,000 people last year looks set to return to Preston Park on October 20.

New events include a LGBT History Exhibition from February 3 to 19 which could see a Big Top style tent on the New Steine hosting a range of events including a comedy gala night, photo exhibition, self-defence workshops, conferences and lectures.

The Oktoberfest 3 day festival, based around a traditional German beer festival with food, music and live entertainment, is scheduled to take place on The Level from October 12 to 14.

Other events proposed for parks and open spaces include the Moscow State Circus, Brighton Kite Festival, an off-road bike ride, Paddle Round the Pier, Heroes vs Villains Superheroes Run and a Fiery Food Festival.

Dukes Mound closure

Dukes Mound on Brighton seafront is to be closed on Monday 21 November for around three months for essential structural repairs to the high retaining wall which supports the A259 seafront road above. It will reopen on 3 February 2017.

In consultation with traders, the downhill side of Dukes Mound will reopen at weekends (Friday evening until Monday morning). The road will also be opened over the Christmas period – between Tuesday 20 December and 4 January.

The closure has been planned to avoid conflicting with any events on Madeira Drive.

Works form part of a £100m council programme of improvements.

Dukes Mound is named after the 6th Duke of Devonshire who owned Fife House, 1 Lewes Crescent, situated immediately north of this site.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Brighton's Secret Agents

Paul McCue giving a rivetting account of the agents' activities

At a ceremony in the Corn Exchange today four blue plaques commemorating Brighton's Secret Agents were unveiled together for the first time. This is the fulfilment of a project by the Secret WW2 Learning Network in partnership with the University of Sussex Resistance Studies Network, supported by the B&H Commemorative Plaque Panel and the Gerry Holdsworth Special Forces Charitable Trust.

The event was well-attended my many local dignatories, veterans & members of the Armed Forces, and representatives of the French and Italian Embassies.  Dame Vera Lynn sent a letter of support.

The plaques.
The Secret Agents are:-
Lt. Jacqueline Nearne, MBE CdeG. 
Capt. Ronald Taylor
Capt. Michael Trotobas
Edward Zeff MBE, CdeG

The plaques are expected to find their final resting places at properties with strong connections with the agents in early 2017.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Christmas Lights 2016

Clocktower 2015

Brighton’s  Christmas lights, sponsored by the 517 businesses that make up 'Brilliant Brighton' promises to be bigger, better and more Brighton than ever. 

This year the lights are themed to reflect the city’s eclectic, fun and social atmosphere with words and emojis lighting up Western Road – including ‘Fairy’ and ‘Ding Dong’ (who could resist a selfie under either?!), along with playful twinkling tidings in North Laine and a gorgeous golden canopy of lights in The Lanes.

Switch-on takes place on Wednesday 16th November. From 5pm the city will start its festive celebrations with a FREE party in East Street as Phats and Small (Turn Around) and Brighton DJ George Kwali (Crank It) take to the live stage with their chart topping hits. Home grown talent Theatre Workshop and the Dionne Slater Singing Group will also wow the crowds with their performances. Brighton legend, actor and comedian Steve Coogan will have the all-important task of counting down and flicking the switch. 

The Rockery in 'Best Park' shortlist.

Preston Park Rockery has been shortlisted in the Fields in Trust’s search to find the UK’s Best Park.

Along with Castle Gardens in Antrim, Pontypool Park in Torfaen and Rouken Glen Park in East Renfrewshire, each were shortlisted following a public vote which saw more than 200 parks nominated and in excess of 10,000 votes cast.

The nominators of each of the four shortlisted local green spaces have been invited to Lords Cricket Ground to represent their parks at the Fields in Trust Awards on 30th November, where the overall winner and UK’s Best Park 2016 will be named.

Andy Jeavons, Garden Manager at Preston Rockery, who nominated the rockery, said: “I am absolutely thrilled with it being shortlisted. I nominated the garden because of the fantastic comments I constantly receive from the public praising the garden. The colour, interest and variety of wildlife we get is stunning.

The rock garden has been lovingly restored by volunteers and CityParks staff with plants of year-round interest, including the winter months.

The winner will take over the mantle of UK’s Best Park from Telford Town Park in Shropshire which was named the public’s favourite local green space in the inaugural vote in 2015.

Find out more about the awards.

Previous post: Vote for your park.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Kemp Town conundrum

Visitors wanting to visit Thomas Kemp's famous creation will be sadly confused by this signpost. From Ship Street, Kemp Town is at least a 25 minute smart walk or 10 minute bus ride. A five minute walk in the direction indicated will only get you to the bottom of St James's Street. Not that St. James's Street isn't worth visiting, still possessing as it does many early buildings as well as shops, bars and restaurants; but again the visitor will get no help from this sign on which St. James's Street isn't even mentioned. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Award for City Mayor

Pete West & Geraldine
The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City of Brighton & Hove, Councillor Pete West, has been nominated for a Councillor Achievement Award. Councillor Pete West was nominated for the county and unitary councillor of the year category for his work as a councillor since 1996.

The awards ceremony, which took place last night, Tuesday 1 November, are run by the Local Government Information Unit and recognise the achievements of councillors representing communities across the UK. Out of over 90,000 councillors only 9 receive an award each year.

Councillor Peter West said: “I feel incredibly honoured to have been nominated. I will use this nomination as part of my role as Mayor, by representing the city, and celebrating the best of Brighton & Hove.”

You can follow and find out more about the work of the city’s Mayor on their facebook page


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Old Town consultation

Brighton Place
The council is consulting on a draft Character Statement for the Old Town Conservation area, which is located in the heart of Brighton. It covers the historic extent of the medieval fishing town of Brighthelmstone, defined by the historic boundaries of North Street, East Street, West Street and the seafront. The Conservation Area was designated in 1973 and extended to include the promenade and beach area in 1977.

Market Street
Clarence Yard
Comments are welcome on the draft Character Statement for Old Town and should be made via the council’s Consultation Portal. The closing date for comments is 30 November 2016. Make your comments here, where the draft Character Statement can also be read in 'Supporting Documents'.         

A conservation area character statement sets out the special interest of the area. A good understanding of what makes a conservation area special is key to its continued conservation; it gives justification to the designation and forms the groundwork for a later management plan (which will be subject to separate consultation). An up-to-date character statement is important for making robust and enforceable planning decisions, and carries considerable weight at any planning appeal. Such statements can also offer constructive guidance for owners, businesses and their agents when preparing development proposals.

Duke Street

An idea for the winter seafront?

Photo Evening Standard
Giant “igloos” have sprung up on the banks of the Thames near Tower Bridge today just in time for winter. 

The three-and-a-half-metre wide dining and party venues are made from PVC and come complete with sheepskin blankets and heaters.

The eight huts sit on the south-facing riverside terrace of Coppa Club restaurant and bar in Lower Thames Street, with views of the bridge, HMS Belfast and the Tower of London. Full article.