Friday, 4 December 2020

Brighton's Big Secret - video.


Made by a team of volunteers in the last few months of 2020, this film takes you on a tour of Downland owned by the people of Brighton and managed in perpetuity by Brighton & Hove City Council.
Traversing the Brighton Downs from West to East the film takes in the highs and lows of downland use and management. 
The film shines a light on the history of the downs and the animals and wildlife that live on it's shrinking chalk grassland.

The downs face an uncertain future with a public consultation underway right now. 

Visit the Brighton Downs Alliance website and Facebook page for more details:-

Thursday, 16 July 2020

On-going work at All Saints, Patcham.

Masonry repairs to the tower buttresses, one on each side of the corner. 

The exposed flintwork glows in the afternoon sunshine.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Patcham Place preserved

In the evening sunshine which only reaches it at this time of year.

The gate posts & fencing.
The KSD Group took over the lease of Patcham Place in 2012 and deserve every credit for the thoroughness with which they have restored and maintained Patcham Place since.

Following recurrent thefts of lead prior to 2014 estate-style mild steel fencing and handsome gate posts were installed.  Remnants of original wrought-iron fencing are still to be found at the top of Coney Hill.

Patcham Place was built in the 16th.C but the facade was later modified with the black mathematical tiles that can be seen today. It is said to be haunted by one of its owners Anthony Stapley who lived there c1620-1655. He was a leading Puritan and Parliamentarian in the area and one of the 59 MPs who signed Charles I's death warrant.

Previous posts:

Friday, 19 June 2020

Black Rock Gasworks redevelopment

This brownfield site’s use as a gasworks dates back to 1818 and the days when coal was unloaded from colliers on the beach and hauled up through a tunnel cut in the chalk, parts of which are said to still exist. After gas production on site ceased in 1860 the site was used for gas storage and distribution. For much of this span of time activities on the site went unrecorded leading, as far as redevelopment is concerned, to significant uncertainty and risk of unknown underground obstructions and contamination.The site forms part of the council's strategic site for redevelopment DA2 which includes the Marina. 

Now prospective developers St William have launched a public consultation on their landscape-led proposals for the site. St William is a joint venture between National Grid and the Berkeley Group to regenerate redundant gasworks sites across the South of England to deliver new homes and jobs.

EPR Architects are project leaders and landscaping is by Brighton-based Andy Sturgeon Design.

A key feature of the site has been identified as it ability to open up a new green link between the South Downs National Park, the city and the sea.

The site is identified specifically to deliver new homes and employment floorspace, with the potential for ancillary retail. 

Artist's impression.

A feedback form can be found at:-

Thursday, 18 June 2020

A Cannon Place Hotel?

Visualisation of the hotel viewed from King's Road

The owners of the Hilton Metropole Hotel (Topland), are seeking the views of local residents on a proposed development of a new 221 room hotel on the northeast corner of the Metropole site.

The site  comprises vacant hotel exhibition space to the rear of the Metropole which is no longer required by Hilton,  and also incorporates 31-32 Cannon Place, on the corner of Cannon Place and St. Margaret’s Place. This Grade II listed building, which currently accommodates a fire escape for the Hotel, is to be retained and fully integrated into the new proposals with the splendidly porticoed entrance reopened to provide a second entrance to the new hotel. The main entrance will be on Cannon Place also giving access to a large reception area opening on to a landscaped courtyard.

The existing blank wall of the Exhibition Hall creates an unwelcoming atmosphere on an important pedestrian route to the seafront from Western Road. The frontage of the new hotel provides a good opportunity to improve on this.  Main concerns are likely to be with the bulk and height of the building and the extent to which this can be ameliorated by sensitive design.

The former Newburgh Assembly Rooms on St. Margaret's Place.

See also:

To respond to the consultation go to:-

For some background see: Extinguished Splendour

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Hove hole

This central circular feature of Hove Recreation Ground dates from its opening in 1891. It once comprised a complete circle of trees which, up to well into the last century, surrounded a bowl-shaped concavity possibly about 15 foot deep. It may have been intended originally as some kind of grotto or fernery.

google earth view 

The circle of trees is now incomplete and, like many other original features of the city's parks & gardens the bowl no longer exists having been filled up sometime in the latter half of the 20th century.

Monday, 6 April 2020

The Brangwyn Estate

There is some mystery about how the Brangwyn Estate between Withdean and Patcham Village was so named. It was built in the 1930s by developer W.H.Lee who, according to Carder, upset Sir Frank Brangwyn of Ditchling by using his name. However the London Road entrance to the estate was ultimately adorned by two massive lamp columns designed by Brangwyn which suggests a placatory gesture from Lee. It still leaves open the question as to why Lee chose the name in the first place. Was he a friend of Brangwyn or just an admirer of his impressive artistic oeuvre?

Although the estate is built in the ever popular Tudorbethan style Brangwyn, who had no architectural training, has looked to the fading Art Deco for inspiration and these rather grotesque creations are the result. The lamps themselves are graceful, but whereas they could have been adequately supported on cast-iron lamp standards, they are instead perched like "peas on a drum" on redundantly massive brickwork. Nevertheless the intricate decorative features are clever and must have posed a good test of the bricklayer's skill.

The lamps are never lit. In the 1930s the electrical supply will have used rubber-insulated cables which have limited life and no doubt were never renewed.

The columns are grade II listed by Historic England.

Friday, 3 April 2020

"An Illustrated Guide to the Buildings of Brighton"

For anyone interested in the notable architecture of the city and its environs this paperback is a must have.

Its genesis is also of some interest. It was compiled by the students and staff of the School of Architecture and Design of Brighton Polytechnic. It was published in 1987 to mark the 16th World Congress of the International Union of Architects which was held in Brighton that year. The theme of the Congress was "Sheltered Cities - Building Tomorrow's World".

The book is well illustrated and comprehensively indexed. In many respects, as work of reference, it is superior to "Brighton & Hove" in the Pevsner Architectural Series.

It is, of course, long out of print but there are secondhand copies available on ABE Books starting at £6 including postage.

Avian overcrowding?

At Patcham Place

It was the Rockery at Preston that was originally known as the Rookery but presumably as mature trees were lost the rooks moved out to Patcham Place and colonies were to be seen in several of the tall trees that lined the A23.  Now many of these trees have been lost but the few remaining still host  nesting rooks. The nest density seems somewhat higher than before but they are a gregarious species.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Brighton Place - then & now

2nd April 2010

20th April 2019
It is gratifying that the attractive development of Hanningtons Lane has yielded a glimpse of the end wall of Puget's Cottage, the oldest building in the Old Town, and beyond it, the cupola of the Leeds Permanent building in North Street.

See also: Brighton Place

Saturday, 21 March 2020

At Patcham Roundabout - then & now

Then. The pumping station, which can be seen beyond the railway line, was built in 1889 so this postcard is dated later than that but before the age of the motor car swept all of this away. Note that the railway bridge is a simple brick arch. On the left can be seen the flint wall of Patcham Place, most of which was demolished when the Patcham by-pass was built in 1926.  See also: Patcham Village - then & now.


With the growth of motor transport came the need to provide the same headroom over the whole width of the road and the brick arch was replaced with beams supported at their ends on the original brickwork which left the width of the roadway unchanged.

The roundabout today doesn't get any prettier
The roundabout was part of Brighton bypass scheme completed in 1995. Before then the A23 crossover from Mill Road to Vale Avenue was controlled by lights.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Madeira Terraces restoration - architects appointed

BHCC have awarded the contract for the architects that will lead the design team for the first phase of restoration to Purcell Architecture Ltd.

Purcell are known for their experience of restoring heritage sites and incorporating environmental sustainability into their designs.

They also have extensive experience with heritage architecture and cast-iron structures, with a good understanding of the challenges involved in bringing sustainable practices to a heritage restoration project.

Their portfolio of restoration work includes major heritage sites, such as the Houses of Parliament, the Elizabeth Tower (the tower that hosts the bell Big Ben) and Canterbury Cathedral.

Read on.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Progress at All Saints, Patcham.


Through the scaffolding it is already possible to get some idea of how All Saints will look stripped of its modern drab rendering. The rough flint walling is being flush pointed, and the brick quoins repaired. 

Old Patcham, which was a prosperous farming village when Brighthelmstone was still a poor fishing hamlet will soon be able to view its parish church in something like the state its medieval builders left it. 

The Shakespeare's Head - then & now

1 Spring Street
The Shakespeare's Head was built in the 1830s as part of the development of Spring Street which had started in the late 1820s. It was sited on the southern corner of Hampton Street on the back plot to 157 Western Road which later became part of Boots the Chemists. Boots originally occupied 157 to 162 Western Road to the west of Spring Street. The photo shows the Shakespeare's Head in 1935 after most of the north side of Western Road between Hampton Place had been demolished for the Mitre House development. By then Boots had moved to purpose-built premises between Spring Street and Dean Street taking some of the street numbers with them.

The Shakespeare's Head was rebuilt in typical 1930s style retaining the corner entrance to the public bar and flourished for over 3 decades under landlord Sidney Berger. It closed about 10 years ago and two side entrances to other bars were replaced with windows. It now serves as the breakfast room of the Britannia Study Hotel in Mitre House.

In 2020
Today the only remaining hint to its history is in the coloured plaque of Shakespeare's head surmounting  the corner doorway.

See also - Spring Street - then & now
                 More on Spring Street shops

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Amon Henry Wilds' offices

84 Western Road

Brighton Street Directory for 1845

Brighton's famous Regency architect built the Western Pavilion for his own residence in 1828 and occupied offices conveniently close at 84 Western Road.  He was still there in 1846 but gone by 1850 when he retired to Shoreham.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

A carbon neutral city in 10 years

BHCC have committed us to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, 20 years ahead of the UK government’s target of 2050. As only 2.5% of the city’s emissions come from the council, this can only be achieved if everyone plays their part to reduce emissions.

A Climate Assembly will be set up and details of how this will be organised will be circulated in the next week. This assembly will bring together 50 residents to help shape how the city can address the climate crisis and recommend and prioritise actions for the city to take forward.

Following best practice, the members of the Climate Assembly will be randomly selected and will broadly represent the demographics of the city’s population. The assembly will involve people from across the whole city. Transport will be the subject of the first meeting.

Full council article.

RSCH development, Mar 2017 - Jan 2020.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Volunteer at the Festival

Various opportunities are available, from providing a warm welcome to visitors and audiences, to helping the social media team keep up to date with all the action. Volunteers will be helped to develop their skills and knowledge within a busy arts organisation, whilst joining the festivities and contributing to events in your local community. Read more.

A Volunteer Open Evening will be held on Wednesday 26 February from 5-7pm in the Brighton Dome Foyer. Meet some of the Festival team and find out how you can get involved. Alternatively email at

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Upper Russell Street (2)

Before it was cleared in the 1960s, for the building of Churchill Square, Upper Russell Street ran parallel to Western Road from Clarence Square to near the top of Regency Road where it turned sharply north to join Western Road alongside the Lamb & Flag (now Crowns) pub. It could not join up with the west end of Regency Road because it was on a higher level. Instead a rough grassy bank existed between the corner of Upper Russell Street and Regency Road, probably about 10 feet below. 

Upper Russell Street now lies under the Churchill Square 1 car park where it roughly follows the ground floor central east-west feeder lane.

Google Earth view of the area today.

Below are two photos from the RP&M Collections of the northward running section of Upper Russell Street in the 1950s.

The side of the still existing Lamb & Flag can be seen in the distance.

On the right of the photo is the southernmost building of this section of Upper Russell Street which flanked the bank down to Regency Road.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

A Plaque to Edward Bransfield RN

At 11 Clifton Road.

The plaque was unveiled by Deputy Mayor Cllr Alan Robins with
Rear Admiral Richard John Lippiett CB, CBE, DL, in attendance. 

Music by Salvation Army musicians

Guard of Honour

200 years to the day that Edward Bransfield became the first known person to glimpse and chart part of the Antarctic continent a plaque has been unveiled at his one-time residence, 11 Clifton Terrace. This follows the unveiling, on 25 January, of a memorial at Bransfield's birthplace, Ballinacurra, near Midleton, Cork. See below.

At Ballinacurra

His 2 year expedition in command of the 216 ton merchant vessel Williams is remarkable for being accomplished without loss of life even though Bransfield, then in Valpariso, had been ordered by the Admiralty to sail at short notice, and none of his crew were equipped for icy weather. His remarkable achievements was recognised by later explorers by the naming of Bransfield Strait and Bransfield Basin in his honour.

Bransfield's achievements had for many years been overshadowed by controversy over whether he or the Russian explorer Bellingshausen were the first to discover the Antarctic mainland but this has recently been resolved by author Rip Bulkeley, who following an exhaustive study of the Russian expedition concluded: “Bellingshausen was not the first commander to see the Antarctic mainland.” 

With the unveiling of these two memorials Edward Bransfield's important place in the annals of Antarctic Exploration is finally recognised.

Edward is buried in the Brighton Extra-Mural Cemetery.

Read more.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Coming next month . . .

. . . in Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

On 15th. February:

Anita Corbin 100 First Women Portraits is the culmination of her 10-year personal mission to capture the portraits of modern female trailblazers.

On 22nd. February:

Researched and curated by residents of Brighton & Hove, Queer the Pier allows the visitor to explore selected experiences of LGBTQ+ people in Sussex over the last 200 years, beginning with a blackmail letter written in 1798 from a solicitor to an army captain, accused of propositioning another man on a coach to Dorking.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Petition - Re-wild Hollingbury & Waterhall golf courses.

The leases of both golf courses expire in March 2020. The Tourism, Equalities and Culture Committee (TECC) will meet on 16 January 2020 to review tenders with a view to granting a 25 year lease. Extinction Rebellion Brighton urge TECC to take this unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that the internationally endangered, wildlife-rich and diverse chalk grassland ecosystems of the two sites can re-generate and flourish, and that eco-friendly community food production and public health, wellbeing and recreational activities are promoted.