Sunday, 30 December 2018

Surreal Brighton

'Daydream' by Alberto Martinez

Alberto was born & studied in Cuba but has now lived in Brighton for 10 years and is a regular participant in the Artists Open Houses May festival. This and other examples of his work are to be seen at the Cube Gallery in the Southdowns Heritage Centre, Hassocks.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Brighton Bits post breaks 10k views.

In under two years the post "How to park free in Brighton & Hove" has become Brighton Bits's most viewed post at just over 10,000 views. 

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

New housing off Coldean Lane

Planning application BH2018/03541 relates to a triangular green field site between the A27, Coldean Lane and Varley Halls. It provides for 250 residential dwellings divided between 2 seven storey buildings and 4 six storey buildings (including lift overruns). Also provided are 162 car parking spaces, 365 cycle parking spaces, new access from Coldean Lane and associated landscaping which incorporate areas of play/amenity space/active learning and substations.

Artist's view from the Coldean Lane entrance.

Present view from Coldean Lane

This is the largest development so far in the council's 'Homes for Neighbourhoods' programme for providing housing on council-owned land. The applicant is the 'City of Brighton and Hove Design & Build Company' which was incorporated in 2017 to implement this programme.  The documentation is high quality and extensively detailed.

Toad's Hole Valley proposals

Illustrative master plan
An outline planning application BH2018/03633 for the development of Toad's Hole Valley has been filed. It proposes: 880 much-needed dwellings; a secondary school; office/research/light industry units; a doctors' surgery community building, and public open space (including for food growing and play space).

It also includes  enhancements and alterations to the Site of Nature Conservation Interest to the east of the site and associated landscaping.

The most controversial proposal seems likely to be  the suburbanisation of King George VI Avenue.  Nearly all A23, A27 traffic destined for Hove and Portslade funnels down this road.  The 3 light-controlled vehicular accesses is a welcome reduction from the 7 suggested earlier for the development. This will still result in some rush hour delays but in the search for new housing maybe this is just one of the trade-offs the city has to accept.

Comments can be filed up until the application goes before the planning committee in the spring.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Madeira Terraces - 2nd funding bid rejected

BHCC's second bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support the Madeira Terrace restoration has been unsuccessful. As before the HLF said there was nothing wrong with the bid, but they simply don’t have enough funding for all the projects that applied. Their funding has been cut by 50% and this funding round was very competitive. The funding requests from all applicants greatly exceeded the budget available.

Work is  continuing on the first three crowdfunded arches (at the western end of the terrace) aiming towards an on-site start date of spring 2019.

At the start of January 2019, an office and community hub will be opened in a shipping container on Madeira Drive. This space will help raise awareness of the restoration project and offer a base to raise funds during events.

Heritage funding and other types of funding will continue to be sought possibly including another bid for HLF funding in March 2019.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

New Archaeology Gallery

Named for its major benefactor, the 'Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery' opens to the public on 26 Jan.2019.

This is the first new gallery for 20 years to be devoted to the story of our ancestors who lived in Brighton & Hove from the Ice Age to the Saxons. It results from several years of work following a public petition from the Brighton & Hove Archaeology Society of which Elaine is a member.

At the heart of the exhibition will be seven forensically accurate 3D facial reconstructions revealing the faces of people, some of whose remains were found in and around Brighton & Hove from the Ice Age to the Saxon era.

Using modern scientific technology, research into the lives of these people has discovered a wealth of mystery, drama and tragedy through childbirth, malnutrition, toothache and possibly murder. Now you can see what they looked like and learn their real-life stories.

Pride Village Party consultation

A consultation opens today on the future of the Pride Village Party which has been an annual popular event in and around St James’s Street for many years.

Up until 2015 the event was not organised officially by either the council nor by Pride itself, instead, visitors independently congregated in the area attracted by the LGBTQ+ bars and clubs that exist there. Since 2015 Pride organisers have managed the PVP and have put resources in place to manage the disruption to local people including additional security personnel, street cleaning and toilets. It is now a ticketed event limited to certain parts of St James’s Street and neighbouring roads.

The council is now seeking the views of residents and businesses on the future of the PVP, including whether it should continue, where it should take place and any other changes people would like to be made to the event.

The consultation closes on 31 Jan 2019 and the responses will be reported to the Tourism, Development and Culture committee in March 2019.

For a paper copy of the questionnaire leave your name & address  on 01273 292100.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Unblocking the Croydon bottleneck

Network Rail are developing major proposals to upgrade the Brighton Main Line – one of the most congested routes in the country –  to provide more reliable, faster and more frequent services on the line and its branches.

Key to the upgrade are proposals to remove the most challenging bottleneck on Britain’s railway network at the ‘Selhurst triangle’ and East Croydon station as part of proposals for the East Croydon to Selhurst Junction Capacity Enhancement Scheme.

To check out the plans, the Brighton consultation will be on:

Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 December 2018 - The Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YD, 4.00-8.00pm.   

More details:

Monday, 26 November 2018

West Street - then & now

Looking north from Boyces St.
West Street was originally much narrower than shown here. The eastern (r.h. side) was widened in 1868 and the Academy cinema on the same side built in 1911. Widening of the western side did not start until 1928 which dates this picture to the period 1911-1928.

On the corner of Boyces Street, the Half Moon lasted until at least 1970 when the licensee was a 'Gizzi', a family more usually associated with Italian ice cream. Although at first sight the building now looks completely different it seems to have retained the same fenestration even though it has had the roof replaced.

Of the two buildings up from the Half Moon, 61 West Street with the canted first-floor bays appears still intact, but 62 with the elegant first-floor bow window has been replaced with modern mock-Georgian.

The building that replaced the Academy deserves no comment.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

A Plaque to Lt. Jacqueline Nearne

This plaque originally unveiled at a special ceremony in November 2106 has found its permanent home at Jaqueline's birthplace, 32 West Hill Street.

She moved with her family to France in 1923. When France fell, she made her way back to England  and joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.  Nearne's fluency in French quickly brought her to the attention of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) where, in 1942, she trained as a courier for the French Resisitance.

On 25 January 1943, she was parachuted into France to work for the 'Stationer' circuit in central France and maintained contact with SOE networks in the Paris area. She carried spare parts for radios inside a cosmetics bag. After fifteen months in the field, she finally returned to Britain in April 1944.

In 1946 she played "Cat", a character based on herself, in the RAF drama-documentary School for Danger, 1948, about the wartime training and deployment of SOE operatives.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Save the Madeira Terraces - special event

Little Russell Street

Little Russell Street looking east from near its junction with Russell Street which now lies under the Churchill Centre. The 1958 street directory lists just the three properties on the left, no.15, a motor repairers, 15a & 16, privately occupied, and further down the entrance to St. Paul's School. At the far end on the left can be seen the side of the old Odeon cinema in West Street which was demolished in 1990.

Little Russell Street is now the easterly part of Russell Road and Russell Place is now located at the former entrance to the school. St. Paul's school moved to St. Nicholas Road in 1967. 

Russell Road today.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

A Plaque to Minnie Turner

The first of a series of plaques planned to commemorate the centenary of a significant period in the Women's Suffrage movement was unveiled today at 13 Victoria Road. Minnie Turner ran her boarding house Sea View as both holiday destination and refuge for suffragettes recovering from imprisonment, hunger-strikes and forcible feeding.

Minnie was present exactly 100 years ago today when suffragettes marching to Parliament were violently attacked by police for six hours. Also present were several of her former guests and, in particular, her boarder, Mary Clarke, the WSPU organiser for Brighton, who later tragically died.

Minnie Turner was for 12 years the Honorary Secretary of a branch of the Brighton Women’s Liberal Association and a member of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). In 1908, frustrated at the government’s refusal to grant women the Vote, she joined the militant WSPU.

Minnie expressed great pride that more of the suffragette leaders and speakers had stayed with her than in any other home.

The plaque was funded by the City Council with a contribution from the Brighton & Hove Heritage Commission.

Members of the Women's History Group who researched and proposed the plaque.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Burning the Clocks 2018

Brighton charity Same Sky has launched its crowdfunder for Burning the Clocks 2018, which takes place from 6.30pm on Friday 21 December 2018. The parade runs from New Road to the seafront, with around 2,000 participants and more than 20,000 onlookers.

The theme for Burning the Clocks 2018 is ‘Remembrance’. Event organisers Same Sky have created a large-scale lantern in the shape of a heart for this year’s event. This will be surrounded by smaller Remembrance hearts carried by procession-goers on the night of the parade.

As in previous years, Brighton residents can purchase lantern packs to take part in the parade (costing £30-£33, available from early November). Lantern packs contain materials, instructions and four wristbands for four people to take part in the parade. They will be available for purchase at Brighton Pavilion, HISBE supermarket in York Place, the Wood Store on Elder Place and Book Nook in Hove.

Local artist Graham Carter has generously created a new limited edition print for Burning the Clocks for the sixth year running. These are also on sale to raise funds, with 80 limited edition designs created around this year’s theme of ‘Remembrance’.

For more information on purchasing lantern packs and Graham Carter’s prints, visit Same Sky’s Facebook page - Businesses and restaurants interested in getting involved with the event as a sponsor or participant should contact

Stanmer woodland management.

Areas of work
Starting tomorrow, thinning out of trees and coppicing is beginning  in three areas – the Water Catcher, Flint Heap and Upper Lodges Wood. 

No memorial trees will be affected by this work.

Access to these areas will be restricted between 8am and 4pm for periods of between one to three days, while work is carried out.

The work is part of the council’s Stanmer Woodland Management Plan, which was approved by the Forestry Commission following citywide consultation earlier this year.

The plan aims to:

  • maintain and preserve open access
  • build resilience against Ash Dieback and other diseases and ensure existing woodland cover is maintained
  • increase biodiversity and protect nationally and locally rare flora and fauna
  • produce semi commercial timber extraction of coppice products, wood fuel and timber.

The work is being managed by Pryor and Rikett, a Lewes based forest management company.

Monday, 5 November 2018

New bus shelters.

The city is to get 5 new bus shelters at sites prioritised  according to the exposure to weather, distance from any other shelter, and number of requests from the public.

Warren Road, top of Bear Rd.

Warren Road, top of Wilson Av.

Grand Avenue, Kings House

Stanley Deason Leisure Centre, Wilson Avenue

New England Rise.
The estimated cost is £550,000 which is over £100,000 each. It seems on the high side for a fairly basic, largely refabricated, structure, but I suppose there are reasons . . .

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Church St./Portland St. site - hopes dashed

March 2018

Nov. 2018
This valuable corner site has now been left derelict for at least 25 years when it could have been providing homes, workplaces and a substantial boost to the Council's hard-pressed resources. 

Hopes were raised earlier this year that development might at last be about to begin when the licensed hoardings were moved outwards, presumably to allow building to begin to the pre-existing building lines.  The hopes were premature however - the hoardings have now been moved back. A small compensation is that we can now use the pavements again.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Brighton's War Memorial


On 30 November at 12 noon, the museum's curator of local history & archeology, Dan Robertson, will give a 45 minute talk about the Old Steine war memorial. It was built in 1922 to the design of Sir John William Simpson KBE FRIBA, the eldest son of Brighton architect Thomas Simpson. Sir John is better known locally as the designer of Roedean School, 1898, which imposingly adorns our cliff tops.

Meet in Museum Lab (first floor)

Roedean School

Friday, 19 October 2018

A Comment on Valley Gardens Scheme Phase 3

West side of memorial garden
As shown in the initial proposals one wonders if enough thought has been put into maximising  green space. There is certainly no point in putting grass in areas likely to be much trodden or in isolated areas which would increase the maintenance costs, but in areas such as that shown above the existing grassed area could simply be extended outwards at lower cost than for paving and the cost of the extra mowing needed would be minor.

Grass is easier on the eye, better for the environment and reduces run-off to the sewers.

Royal Pavilion guided tours

Be transported back in time with an expert guide. Hear stories of King George IV’s impressive banquets, balls and concerts and learn more about the architecture and decorative interiors of the Royal Pavilion including the newly reopened Saloon.

Upcoming Dates:
20 October 2018 at 2:30 pm until 3:30 pm
27 October 2018 at 2:30 pm until 3:30 pm
3 November 2018 at 2:30 pm until 3:30 pm
10 November 2018 at 2:30 pm until 3:30 pm
17 November 2018 at 2:30 pm until 3:30 pm

£5 (plus Royal Pavilion admission)
Tickets can be booked in advance by telephoning 03000 290902 (Mon-Fri) or in person at any of the RPM venues. You can also email for any queries.
A £1.50 booking fee may apply.

A royal collection for the Royal Pavilion.

While Buckingham Palace is being renovated over a period of 3 years a major collection of original Royal Pavilion decorative art and furniture will be returned on loan to the Royal Pavilion by the Royal Collection Trust. This will include porcelain pagodas originally placed in the Music Room, a Kylin Clock, an extraordinary extravaganza partly made in France and partly in England from Chinese and Japanese elements and the French designed Rock Clock from the Music Room. All the items were originally acquired by the Prince Regent, who later became King George IV, for his exotic Brighton residence.

George IV especially chose Chinese ceramics mounted in France and England with gilt-bronze mounts, Chinese export porcelain and furniture, and English and European furniture in exotic styles.

The contents of the Pavilion were moved to London by Queen Victoria in 1847, on the sale of the residence. The Royal Pavilion was sold to the Town of Brighton.

"The Snowman" comes to Brighton.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Snowman, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, together with Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House) are showing an  exhibition of the original book artwork created by Raymond Briggs. Raymond taught illustration at Brighton College of Art and still lives near Brighton.

In 1982 The Snowman was adapted for screen and has been shown on Channel 4 at Christmas every year since, becoming a firm favourite with children and adults all over the world and an intrinsic part of family festive traditions.

Some of the original hand-drawn cels, celluloid sheets used for traditional animation, from the TV adaptation will also be on display.

Since it was first published forty years ago, The Snowman has been produced in 21 languages around the world and has inspired a number of additional stories including a sequel animation, The Snowman and the Snowdog.

To commemorate the anniversary, children’s author Michael Morpurgo has reimagined Raymond Briggs’ original tale as a chapter book. Illustrated by Robin Shaw, The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo will appeal to middle-grade readers. Robin Shaw has also created a short animation especially for the 40th anniversary celebrations that will premiere in the gallery from 4 December.

Families will be able to enjoy a fun-filled Christmas day out by visiting The Snowman show and Christmas at the Royal Pavilion where the Pavilion is decked out in sumptuous festive decorations including a replica of Queen Victoria’s sleigh for the ultimate Christmas family photo.

The exhibition will also be the inspiration of a new artwork by the museum award-winning artist Helen Marshall. Using festive images submitted by the public throughout October and November Helen will create a collage portrait of The Snowman and James which will be unveiled and on display in the gallery from 4 December.  Festive photographs of Christmas memories, snow scenes, or all things wintery can be submitted at

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

A Plaque to Captain Trotobas

The plaque to Captain Trotobas, unveiled at a special ceremony in the Corn Exchange in November 2016 has found its final resting place at his birthplace in North Place, Brighton.

Trotobas joined the British Army in 1933. After WW2 broke out, he served in northern France, was wounded and evacuated from Dunkirk.  Having been educated in France he spoke fluent french and, back in England, volunteered for the S.O.E. In September 1941 he was one of six agents parachuted into Vichy-controlled France.

After only a month he was arrested, but escaped in July 1942 and made his way back to Britain via Spain and Portugal. Two months later he again parachuted into France to create a new circuit,  in and around Lille. From May 1943, he began sabotage operations in which he personally participated.  On the morning of 27 November 1943 the enemy forced their way into his lodgings in Lille and in the subsequent shoot-out, Trotobas was killed instantly.

Editor's note. This plaque was ceremonially unveiled in North Place on 27 November, 2018.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Valley Gardens phase 3 consultation.

Have your say on the design options for the third phase of the Valley Gardens improvement scheme which covers the area around the Old Steine down to the Palace Pier roundabout. 

Brighton Bits thinks that there is too much hard surface in the amenity areas. Why not increase the width of the grassy areas in some places? The extra cost of mowing an extra 500 square yards or so would be negligible.

Consultation at:

Thursday, 4 October 2018

The Wooden House

The facade of this grade II listed building, 37a Duke Street, is composed of wooden blocks in imitation of mortar joints. It has a tiled double gambrel roof and dates from c.1780.

It is remarkable that the segmental bay windows are said to retain their original sashes.  Modern softwood sashes seem to have a maximum life of 25 years even if well maintained. It would be interesting to know what wood was used throughout and how the blocks of the facade were cemented together.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Regency Square book launch

The Regency Square Area Society has just published a book to celebrate the bicentenary of Regency Square.  The book has been written by Suzanne Hinton and Gill Wales, both of whom live in the square.

The book will be launched by the ward councillor, Alex Phillips (she is also deputy mayor this year) in the north garden of Regency Square (with gazebo in case of rain) on 22 September at 11am. The books are on sale at the reduced launch price of £10.00 (cover price £12.95).

Do go along and bring your friends to enjoy the music.  Any speeches will be very short.

Friday, 7 September 2018

A plaque to Prince Kropotkin

Following a two year campaign by students of the University of Sussex a plaque to this many-sided man was unveiled today at 8 Chesham Street, a house now occupied by a Russian historian, Mrs Barbara Seville. 

Kropotkin was a respected intellectual with a world-wide reputation and an audience that included Lenin and Tolstoy. Fascinating details of his life were revealed in addresses from Alderman Francis Tonks, Dr.Gordon Finlayson and Ph.D student Valentinos Kontoyiannis. 

Mr Kontoyiannis described Kropotkin's visit to Brighton Aquarium where he observed an upturned crab which teams of its fellow crabs were attempting to right. Kropotkin went on to write "Mutual Aid", in which he theorised that a society could be organised by individuals working in co-operation. This was in opposition to Thomas Huxley's then prevailing theories on the importance of competition in the evolutionary process.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP for Kemptown spoke of the lasting relevance of Kropotkin's ideas and philosophy.

Valentinos Kontoyiannis & Alderman Tonks
Chair of the Plaque Panel, Roger Amerena: Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP: Dr.Gordon Finlayson