Saturday, 23 November 2019

Mary Clarke statue - Sculptor Chosen

Denise Dutton MRSS

Denise Dutton MRSS has been chosen to create the maquette for the statue of the suffragette Mary Clarke. The cost will be met from the grant of £10,000 donated by BHCC to kick-start this project. It is hoped to place the statue in or near the Royal Pavilion estate which was the scene 100 years ago of much suffragette campaigning.

The Mary Clarke Statue Appeal

Denise's extensive oeuvre includes a statue to the working-class suffragette Annie Kenny in Oldham. Annie became a leading figure in the Women's Social and Political Union and co-founded its first branch in London with Minnie Baldock.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

A Plaque to Sake Dean Mahomed

A plaque to Sake Dean Mahomed, the famous Brighton entrepreneur, now graces the portico of the Queens Hotel in Kings Road where, in the 19thC, he established his highly fashionable and successful Baths.

Davinder Dhillon; Cllr.Alexandra Phillips the Mayor of Brighton & Hove,
and Commander Nick May.
The project was led by the Davinder Dhillon, Deputy Lieutenant Sussex - Chairman of Chattri  Group, and funded by a public appeal and a generous contribution from Sussex Police.

Also with support from:
Dr Bert Williams MBE, Chairman of Black History Group.
Researcher - Duncan Cameron, Local historian.
Queens Hotel Manager - Michelle Doyle

A fascinating display about his life is currently on view in the Brighton Museum.

Sake Dean Mahomed

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Jack Selby's drive to Brighton (& back)

Passing Lowfield Heath at 20mph.

When James Selby was born, in 1844, the railways had begun to drive coaches off the road, but James was nevertheless destined to become one of the most famous professional coachmen of all time. His father was the proprietor of an hotel at Colney Hatch to which a large livery stable was attached, and this gave James an opportunity of indulging his favourite pastime of driving. 

While he was still in his twenties there was a coaching revival, and in 1870 he began his career as a coachman, driving the Tunbridge Wells coach. In 1888 Selby put his own coach, the Old Times, on the London - Brighton run. At the Ascot meeting of that year he was offered, and took, a bet of £1000 to £500 that the coach could not be driven to Brighton and back under eight hours—a bet that was to make his name famous in coaching history. 

On July 13, Selby started on his journey from the White Horse cellar in Piccadilly, giving the order to " let go " at ten o'clock precisely. He drove along Piccadilly, Grosvenor Place and Buckingham Palace Road and over the Chelsea suspension bridge, making the first change of horses at the Horse and Groom at Streatham at 10.28. This change took 47 seconds. 

At 10.45 he was passing West Croydon and maintained a speed of 13 miles an hour to the Windsor Castle, Purley Bottom, where another change took just over a minute. He reached Horley at 11.51, having driven at 20 miles an hour on part of this stage, and was at Crawley at 12.11, two minutes being lost when he was held up at a level-crossing. 

A fresh team was taken on at Peas Pottage, where he arrived at 12.23, the time for this change being 1 minute 2 seconds. Passing through Handcross, he reached Cuckfield at 12.53, changed in 68 seconds, reached Friars Oak at 1.17, changed horses in 1 minute, arrived at Patcham at 1.40, changed in 47 seconds, and was at the Ship at Brighton at 1.56. 

At the Old Ship the horses were merely turned round and he was on the return journey in a matter of minutes. With changes of horses varying from 50 seconds to 1 minute, Selby was back in Piccadilly at 5.50 p.m., where he was received with tremendous enthusiasm, for he had done the double journey with 10 minutes to spare. 

Jack died later the same year and the Old Times coach passed into the property of Mr. Bernard Mills, of circus fame.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

All Saints, Patcham; the work begins

In addition to the substantial grant already received from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the cost of the restoration project, the church has recently been awarded a grant by Allchurches Trust.

To complete the project funds will still be needed. Donations can be made through           

Monday, 23 September 2019

A Plaque to Margaret Bondfield MP

Britain's first female cabinet minister was commemorated today with a plaque at 14 Church Road, Hove. This follows a successful campaign by the Hove MP Peter Kyle aided by the Women's History Group and the Commemorative Plaque Panel. Unveiling was performed by Rachel Reeves MP, the author of "Women of Westminster". 

Peter was eloquent on Margaret's personal qualities which drove her from the humblest of beginnings to achieve a seat of power to alter society for the better.

Peter Kyle and Rachel Reeves

The unveiling
Margaret experienced the appalling conditions for 'living-in' shop staff at various stores in Brighton and was driven to become a member of the shop-workers' union.
She was elected to the TUC Council in 1918 and became its Chairman and an MP in 1923 and a parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Labour from 1929 to 1931.

The ceremony was closed by the Deputy Mayor Cllr. Alan Robins

Saturday, 7 September 2019

The Circus Street development

On the Circus Street side the work is still mainly covered in scaffolding but elsewhere something of the completed development can be seen.

Looking north from Carlton Hill
Looking north along what was once Carlton Row

In Morley Street looking west

In Morley Street looking south west.

A Plaque to Clementina Black

This plaque to Clementina was unveiled today at 51 Ship Street by Ms Frances O'Grady and Mrs Juliet Smith JP. Frances is the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress and Juliet is the Deputy Lieutenant of East Sussex.

The unveiling
Addresses were given by Dr. Gerry Holloway of the Brighton and Hove Women's History group, which proposed and progressed the plaque; Dr. Caroline Lucas; Cllr. Nancy Platts, Leader of BHCC;  and Ms Frances O'Grady.

The unveiling was proceeded and concluded by the choir 'Women of Note' singing suffrage songs.

Clementina was, in fact, born a few doors away at 45 Ship Street which was replaced in the 1930s by the listed Post office building. For aesthetic reasons the planning department was unwilling to allow a plaque on the Post Office building. However the site finally chosen does have the advantage of high visibility.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Withdean developments

An earlier post 'Suburban creep' (4 years ago) lamented the gradual loss of semi-rural Withdean, its 1930s houses, mature gardens, and the 'country lane' look of the roadsides. In 2019 unfortunately there is no sign of relief. The two photos immediately below show 4 completed properties in Withdean Road. Some trees have been replanted and will no doubt eventually soften the view somewhat but nothing will disguise the hard fencing.

Elsewhere, unprotected by conservation area status or any other listings, the demolitions have continued. 

Withdean Avenue

Withdean Road

Withdean Road

The clearances so far, with no doubt most of the mature vegetation, has resulted in a large vacant plot which was the subject of planning application BH2016/06478 for a two-part, 3 storey building comprising 26 residential apartments.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Royal Pavilion Garden plans

Possible new entrance
Plans to restore and safeguard the historic Royal Pavilion Garden are back on track. An updated bid of £214,500 for National Heritage Lottery funding was sent in earlier this week. This bid is for funding to prepare detailed plans and an application for a full grant of £3.3 million.

After a previous application was turned down earlier this year the council was encouraged to re-apply by the Heritage Lottery assessors who noted the heritage importance of the project, the need to improve the garden and praised the community involvement which backed the bid.

The plans include:
  • Improving access to the gardens for people with disabilities and a installing a new 'Changing Places' toilet
  • New lighting and a secure boundary to address vandalism and anti-social behaviour
  • Conserving and restoring listed lamp posts and balustrade, flowerbeds, paths, lawns and improving recycling, lighting and seating
  • Overhauling the entrances, installing new gates and signs
  • Creating a new programme of events, activities and volunteering opportunities
  • Improving interpretation with maps and information boards, audio tours and an archival research project.
The National Heritage Lottery Fund is expected to make a decision in November. If agreed, the council will aim to submit the full bid in March 2021 with work starting in January 2022.

Improving and protecting the Royal Pavilion Garden is a key part of the Royal Pavilion Estate project where the council and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival are working together to reunify the estate and conserve its heritage.

Phase one of the project is underway. The Royal Pavilion Garden is part of phase two.

Old Steine through prehistory

RPM video:

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Brighton bumble

At 11 Hanningtons Lane the restored Hanningtons 3-train turret clock is on display. 

A large central portion of Brighton Square has been portioned off leaving little room for passing pedestrians, especially when other shops have tables and chairs outside.

The emergent Shelter Hall due for completion later this year.

View looking east.

In Kellie Miller's art gallery, eye-catching surrealism by Steve Fricker, oil-on-canvas, £2800.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Humpit Hummus at Hanningtons.

Humpit Hummus is opening its first store in the South of England at 15 North Street, next to the new entrance to Hanningtons Lane.  The store occupying just 168 sq ft of floor space will open later this month.

Humpit Hummus, hummus and falafel retailer, started life as a street food vendor in Leeds, opened its first store in the Leeds Corn Exchange in 2014 and was crowned Virgin Start Up Street Food Winner by Richard Branson just one year later. Brighton will be the brand’s 9th store and its first outside the North of England and Scotland.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

All Saints, Patcham, to get a facelift.

12th.C All Saints is idyllically situated at the top of Church Hill, near to what was once Patcham Court Farm, its ancient barn,  dovecote and the site of what was once the village pond.  The turret spire can be seen from diverse points around Patcham. Its interior is beautiful but the external appearance is marred by cement render applied by the Victorians. This was probably well-meant but modern evidence suggests that in the long term cement render only serves to trap moisture which eventually migrates to the interior surfaces. 

A project to entirely remove the render, and make good using traditional methods, is expected to start on September 10th. The total cost is estimated to be £300,000 of which £100K has been match-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

To aid the original survey for this work various 'windows' were cut in the render to reveal the surface beneath. They give some hint of the wide variety of materials used and the historical interest that has been hidden for so long.


Some months ago the churchyard wall was found in danger of collapse due partly to the roots of a nearby sycamore. The tree has now been removed and the wall sensitively repaired by BHCC which owns the churchyard.