Manchester United in Albion sights

Can Brighton pull one off just like Sevilla? The Spanish conquerors arrived at Old Trafford last night and despite the uneviable record of never having won on English soil before, did just that, and of all places in the realm of Old Trafford, past European conquerors themselves. Remember Sheringham and Solsjkaer and company? The footage of them scoring injury time goals to win must surely have been repeated many times over, but now the ability to score late must be a distant memory of the past. Despite having Romelo Lukaku in the squad, Alexis Sanchez, and Paul Pogba, a total of nearly two hundred million invested in them, the Mancunians found it hard to break down the Spanish team of arguably less famous personnel. Well, perhaps until now.

So ahead of Brighton’s match at Old Trafford in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, the Seagulls must be fancying their chances. The Seagulls have won their last few games, including strong opposition like Arsenal. They have fought off their relegation worries and are can play confidently without the fear of not being in the Premier League next season. More importantly, they have gone to big places like the Emirates and won, and played credibly in games that perhaps they were unlucky to lose. So despite the fact that Sunday’s game is away, they must be thinking they could pull one off.

The Manchester squad appears to be infighting at the moment. Alexis Sanchez’s arrival at Old Trafford has seemingly soured relations with his team mates, with Paul Pogba questioning his own lack of influence on his team’s game. Pogba’s assists and minutes have gone down since the arrival of the Chilean, and Jose Mourinho appears to be finding problems to include both in his team. He must find a way to integrate both into the squad, or it would seem like he has traded Mkhitaryan and Pogba for Sanchez. And has the curse of Alexis Sanchez hit Mancunian shores? He seemed to sour relations between his team mates when he was at Arsenal, maybe the same is happening with Manchester United.

United’s problems, Brighton’s advantage. The Seagulls are on a winning run, and United, fresh off a win at Liverpool before being bundled out by Sevilla last night, must regroup fast (but hopefully not too fast). If Albion progress, they will most likely face Tottenham who are favourites against Swansea. But let’s take it one step at a time first.

Seagulls into the next round

Are things on the up for the Brighton football club? The Seagulls scored a 3-1 win over Coventry in the FA Cup to progress to the quarter finals. The progress to that stage is the club’s first since the 1980s – 1986, to be exact.

And what a dream debut for Jurgen Locadia. The record signing from PSV Eindhoven joined in January and made a dream appearance, scoring just inside a quarter of an hour to edge his club in front. Brighton’s dominance was never really much in doubt with Connor Goldson scoring with a header twenty minutes later to put the Seagulls further in front. And went old boy Leonardo Ulloa, on loan from Leicester scored in the 61st minute, the fans by this time realised they were on the verge of a quarter-final trip. The consolation goal by Coventry did not dent the joy at reaching the last eight, although it must have been a bit of a downer for Netherlands and former Newcastle stopper Tim Krul not to have kept a clean sheet.

Locadia had several chances to add to his debut and had he been able to convert them he would have had an even greater debut with a hat-trick. But the forward is only just recovering from a hamstring injury which delayed his debut, and his combination with Solly March and Anthony Knockaert is promising for Albion.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton was delighted with the performance and felt the team carried themselves well even though Coventry were in the lower leagues. He had reason to be pleased with the performance of March, who looked like a threat whenever he received the ball. March was voted man of the match and his performance and tireless running created chances for his teammates.

The result is a good one for the Seagulls before they meet relegation-threatened Swansea on Saturday, followed by Arsenal the week after. If they build on the positive performance and a run of good results, they might view the weeks leading to the close of the season more positively.

Learning about learning

How do you feel when you have to learn something new? Do you feel a sense of excitement, or do you encounter an initial sense of negativity that stays with you for a long time?

For many people, especially those of the younger generation, learning a new skill comes with a sense of aspiration and idealism. They see the skill and what it can offer to their lives, not just in terms of the skill and direct benefits itself, but also for the fame and recognition. For example, someone wishing to take up singing has ideas of being able to make it big as a singer-songwriter, and being the object of attention of millions in a big arena.

The unfortunate thing with learning a skill – if you can call it unfortunate at all – is that it takes time to do well. Skills take time to be familiar with, to acquire, and to refine, so that every action benefits. A lot of people go for the product and not the process, because they want to end-gain, to get to the final product immediately, because they are hungry for the success. This means they short-cut their way to the end, without any idea of how they’ve achieved it.

You see this in young children. When they are asked to do a piece of writing, for example, and are not willing to do it, they fill a piece of paper with words – perhaps written not very nicely, as a form of protest – and will insist they have completed it, when the paper is full of words, without any form of whether what they have written is of substance and neat. They have gone for the product, in order to complete it, rather than think of the process.

Perhaps it is a good idea to learn little craft skills to subconsciously learn the life skills of patience and practice. Rather than discover – when the stakes are too high – that one has chosen to do something ambitious without having the will or aptitude for it, it may be prudent to do little artistic skills, slightly less ambitious tasks in order to develop the patience and willingness to graft, and develop a mental framework of what it takes to learn a skill. If you’re ever on the Brighton seafront, you will find a myriad of ideas just looking at the craft shops around you. Try candle-making, or perhaps making your own shampoo. Try learning to play the guitar with a few chords. Try knitting, or join a weekend cookery class. There are many things you can try. Not only will you make many friends and meet like-minded people, at the same time you will learn about learning – it is a skill that will benefit you for life!

Shelter Hall overruns

In light of the collapse of nationwide contract Carillon, it is prudent to examine how the costs of construction can overrun to the point where they cost more than forecasted.

Why is it that in the construction world, everything seems to cost more and take longer? Building contractors have had years of experience at cost estimation, yet the oft-quoted excuse is the lack of supply or staff, or some other excuse which presumably could not have been anticipated. You would think that with many years of experience in the construction industry, companies could at least factor this costs in foresight so that the cost quoted at the start is accurate over the course of projects.

All this highlights a problem within the construction industry. The quotations offered to councillors who approve such projects are deliberately low to secure approval, yet once approval has been obtained they balloon to their true size, or even an estimate, which cannot be gone back on because the contracts have been signed, or the structure is already have in place. But could you imagine if you ordered spaghetti from a restaurant, that you would have to wait longer for your food, and on top of that the restaurant tells you that the spaghetti is in shortage and therefore you would have to pay more and wait longer for the same bowl? Why do we accept this in construction?

The work to rebuild Shelter Hall in West Street is now forecast to cost twice as much and twice as long. Shouldn’t it be the case that contractors who don’t adhere to their own estimates of time and cost should bear the brunt of the extra cost themselves? The problem is that after subsidies to cover the extra rising costs from the original cost of ten million pounds, there is still a two million pound shortfall to fund the project that must come from the city coffers, or Brighton residents will end up with a half-finished mound of eyesore.

It is almost as if we build projects with the expectation that they will overrun, and we sign them off with blank cheques of money and time. We need a revamp on the construction system; contractors need to provide final cost estimates and timeframes when submitting for tender, and any shortfall should be met by them, as it impacts on the town’s infrastructure. We cannot have projects overrunning, doubling in cost, with the extra monies going to line the pockets of directors. It is a sad unethical abuse of the system

Brighton fills up Stoke stadium

Could it be the magic of Brighton rubbing off on their northern neighbours? Stoke City’s next home match against Albion could be their biggest home match this season. Albion have already sold out of their 3200-ticket allocation, so the Potters had better beware of some good visiting support!

Albion currently sit three points above Stoke and new manager Paul Lambert in the table. A few weeks ago, a six point gap was all that separated the eleventh-placed team and the bottom, but with the developments of the recent weeks, that six-point gap is now limited to the fifteenth-placed team. What does that important stat mean? It puts more pressure for teams to win, because now not even six points are enough if you want to sleep easy. Those teams above the relegation zone can afford to plod on for draws, and hope to marginalise their goal difference, but those teams at the bottom really have to make a difference, an attempt to win, in Oder to lift themselves out. Perhaps when they have traded places with a team in fifteenth place or lower, they can afford to play for draws.

A gap of six points DOES separate the eleventh-placed and the nineteenth-placed team, though – meaning Stoke, on eighteenth, could in theory vault themselves to safety with two wins, while Albion may slide uncomfortably towards the relegation zone. It is not a situation Brighton would want!

How will Chris Hughton set up the Brighton team? It is likely they will set up with a defensive line up knowing that the Potters will want to attack, and then try to burn them out of energy over the course of the game – and then hope to win it in the final stages. And as for Stoke, they will probably line up against Brighton in an attacking formation. Maybe Peter Crouch will start? Watch for the Brighton midfield to try to nullify Xherdan Shaqiri, as many of Stoke’s opponents have done – they realise he drives most of the Stoke offensive.

Brighton and Stoke promises to bring in more changes and twists to the relegation tale. Watch the match this weekend; it’s not one to miss! Can Brighton pull away further to safety?

Return to the Seaside

If you like football, you may be heartened at the fact that Leicester City striker Leonardo Ulloa has rejoined Brighton on loan until the end of the season.

The striker was formerly a Brighton player prior to leaving for Leicester and is still popular among the fans here. Three and a half years ago he played for the club before signing for the Foxes, and his return provides the club with a good physical striker, with plenty of Premier League experience, and more importantly, gives him a chance to play.

At Leicester, Ulloa played a huge part in the run to being Premier League champions. Remember the penalty he took, with Vardy and Mahrez off and Leicester trailing? He showed no sign of nerves and buried the penalty. Having the striker makes the Brighton frontline a lot stronger and gives manager Chris Hughton more alternatives. Ulloa was ofter behind the pecking order with Jamie Vardy, Riyadh Mahrez, Islam Slimani in front of him, but with the move he can expect a lot more football – and Brighton have a strong weapon in the fight to stay up!

Boundary markers of Brighton

The boundary of the ancient ecclesiastical and civil parish of Brighton, which was also the area incorporated as a borough on April 1 1854, followed the boundary with Hove, from the sea-front via Little Western St and Boundary Passage to Goldsmid Rd, until the two areas were combined in 1997. It then went directly to the junctions of Russell Crescent and Dyke Rd, and Prestonville Rd and Old Shoreham Rd, to follow the line of Old Shoreham Rd, New England Rd, Viaduct Rd, Ditchling Rd, Florence Place, Hollingdean Rd and Bear Rd to the Race Hill reservoir. The boundary line then ran south across the race-course to follow generally the course of Whitehawk Rd (before realignment, now including Haybourne Rd) to Roedean Rd, and finally along the eastern side of Boundary Rd to the sea. This area amounted to approximately 1,640 acres, although reclaimed beaches added to the total over the years.

The Brighton borough boundary has been extended on several occasions in order to accommodate development outside the original area. The alterations have been:

October 31 1873: (1873 Brighton Borough Extension Act): That part of Preston parish to the east of Dyke Rd, an area of about 905 acres, was added to the borough for municipal purposes only; the boundaries remained unaltered for parochial purposes until 1894, when that part of Preston parish outside the borough, i.e to the west of Dyke Rd, was constituted as the parish of Preston Rural; and that part within the borough was constituted as the new parish of Preston. Preston remained a separate parish within the county borough of Brighton until 1928 (see below).

October 1 1923: (1923 Ministry of Housing Provisional Order Confirmation (Brighton Extension) Act): That part of Patcham parish to the east of Lewes Rd, an area of 94 acres already developed by the corporation as the original Moulsecoomb housing estate, was added to the county borough of Brighton and to the parish of Preston.

April 1 1928: (1927 Brighton Corporation Act): The whole of the parishes of Ovingdean and Rottingdean, a large part of Falmer parish (including the rest of the Moulsecoomb estate, the Falmer School area and Bevendean), and those parts of Patcham and West Blatchington parishes to the east of Dyke Rd Avenue and Devil’s Dyke Rd, were added to the county borough. In addition, a small exchange of land was made with Hove to the north of Seven Dials to simplify the boundary; the new line ran along Goldsmid Rd and Dyke Rd, such that Goldsmid Rd and parts of Addison, Davigdor, Julian and Melville Rds were transferred to Hove, while Belmont and parts of Dyke Rd and Old Shoreham Rd were added to Brighton. This enormous expansion created what was popularly known as ‘Greater Brighton’, with the area of the county borough, which was also constituted as a single parish of Brighton (thus also absorbing Preston parish), increasing nearly five-fold to 12,503 acres. A week-long celebration culminated in the unveiling of the Pylons by the Duke and Duchess of York to mark the new northern boundary of the town.

April 1 1952: (1951 Brighton Extension Act): Substantial areas of Falmer and Stanmer parishes, including Old Boat Corner, Stanmer Park, Stanmer village, Coldean and the downland to the west of Falmer Rd, were added to the county borough and parish of Brighton to bring the total area up to 14,347 acres. Those parts of Falmer and Stanmer not annexed combined to form the present parish of Falmer.

March 31 1972: (1968 Brighton Marina Act): Land reclaimed for the Marina development, plus a substantial area of sea defined by national grid references, was added to the parish and county borough. The added area was about 694 acres, making the total borough area 15,041 acres.

April 1 1993: (The East Sussex, West Sussex and Kent (County Boundaries) Order 1992): A 40ha area of downland at Donkey Bottom, including Mid-Down House and Alpha and Beta Cottages, was transferred from Pyecombe parish to the Borough of Brighton.
April 1 1997: (The East Sussex (Boroughs of Brighton and Hove) (Structural Change) Order 1995): Combined the Boroughs of Brighton and Hove into one ‘unitary’ area –a district and a county for local government purposes, an area of 33.80 square miles. However, for ceremonial purposes, Brighton & Hove remains part of East Sussex under the 1997 Lieutenancies Act.

There are not many places where the Brighton boundary is obvious to the observer. Among those most easily seen are:

Brighton/Hove: in the Western Rd pavement at Boundary Passage; at the mid-point and northern end of Boundary Passage; the southern side of Temple Gardens; either side of Windlesham Avenue; and at Dyke Rd/Old Shoreham Rd.

This last stone marked the former Hove/Preston boundary to 1928 and, although the present borough boundary does not run along the same line, it is mered to the stone.)

Brighton/Preston (to 1928): in the north-eastern pier of the New England Viaduct.

Brighton/Stanmer (1928-52): at Highfields, Coldean.
Brighton/Falmer/Preston/Ovingdean (to 1928): at the south-eastern corner of the Race Hill Reservoir in Bear Rd.

Brighton/Ovingdean (to 1928): two between the Race Hill Reservoir and Haybourne Rd, and two on the western side of Haybourne Rd, where there are also a number of Race Ground boundary stones; on the eastern side of Whitehawk Rd at Roedean Rd.

Brighton/Telscombe (from 1928): either side of Marine Drive to the east of Longridge Avenue, Saltdean.

The benefits of homemade shampoos

Brighton bristles with crafts and hand made items. You can find things such as beeswax candles and homemade soaps that are good for your skin. If you are feeling crafty, why not consider making your own shampoos?

There are hundreds of shampoos on the market and each one of them promises to leave your hair shinier, softer and more beautiful than the rest. Realistically though, these shampoos rarely live up to their lofty promises, and in fact, for a number of reasons that we’ll go into, by far the best option is to simply make your own natural shampoos at home. While the vast majority of us grow up believing that using store-bought shampoos is the only option, it’s never too late to understand that there is actually a better alternative. After thoroughly investigating store-bought shampoos, I highly recommend you give making your own toxin-free, natural homemade shampoos a try, as these products are far better for your hair, your health, and the environment.

You’re probably wondering why you should spend the extra time and energy to make your own shampoos when you can easily grab a bottle off the shelf in your local supermarket? Well, here’s a rundown of facts that will help you understand why homemade shampoos are most definitely better than the store-bought variety!

1. Natural homemade shampoos take fantastic care of your hair.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t necessary to wash our hair with chemical shampoo every day. The reason for this is that over-shampooing strips the hair of it’s natural oils, and due to their harshness, this is particularly true of store-bought shampoos. However, when you begin using homemade shampoos you’ll notice that your hair will look healthier and that the right amount of protective natural oils will remain intact.

2. You can make natural homemade shampoos in small amounts and keep them in non-polluting, reusable containers until you need them.

Most shampoos can be stored in the fridge for at least a few days, and up to a couple of weeks, saving you from having to regularly make new batches. Although a regular shampoo container can be used to store your homemade shampoos, the best way of storing them is in glass containers. The reason for this is that glass is inert meaning no chemicals can leach out into your shampoos. As these containers are reusable and made of non-toxic material you’ll also have the peace of mind that you’re not just doing what’s right for your hair, but also what’s right for the environment!

3. Store-bought shampoos are often full of potentially cancer-causing chemicals.

As we are all well aware, cancer is a truly awful disease! Therefore it’s important that we do whatever we can in order to reduce the risk of ever suffering from this terrible condition. Cocamide DEA, a chemical found in nearly a hundred types of store-bought shampoos in the USA, has a proven link to the formation of cancerous cells in humans. Most shampoos also contain vast amounts of sulfates and parabens that may poison the scalp and the kidneys, and could also play a part in the onset of allergies. When you’re using store-bought shampoos, you’re exposing yourself to a vast array of chemical nasties, and in so doing you’re putting yourself at risk of potentially damaging your body’s tissues and organs.

Other chemicals to beware of include:
•Formaldehyde. Yes, that’s the same formaldehyde used for embalming the dead! While it may be OK for the dead, it’s certainly not something we want to be introducing into our bodies while we’re still alive! Formaldehyde can play a part in cancer formation and can reportedly cause our body’s organs to stiffen. This in turn may contribute to the onset of organ damage.

•Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. This chemical slowly damages the hair by breaking down it’s natural protein structure. An additional downside is that it can in some cases lead to lung or eye irritation.

•Polyoxyethylene, Sodium Chloride, and other Thickening Agents. These chemical agents are used to help shampoo lather easily. However, they can actually cause your scalp to become dry and itchy as they remove the natural oils which work to keep the hair and scalp healthy.

•Synthetic Colors. These chemicals can cause irritation of the scalp and skin.

•Siloxane, Dimethicone, Silicone and other Hair Sealants. These ingredients are reported to make the hair shiny, but due to their harsh chemical nature they can actually prevent the scalp from being able to coat hair with it’s natural oils. This in turn can lead to dry, frizzy and hard-to-manage hair.
•Mineral Oil, Petroleum, and Lanolin. While these products claim to moisturize your hair, they actually have no proven benefits. Like most chemicals in commercially available shampoos, they can strip away the natural oils and moisture from the hair and in extreme cases may even cause the hair to thin or, at worst, fall out!

•Propylene Glycol or Anti-Freeze Agents. You may be wondering “Why on earth would there be anti-freeze in my shampoo!?” Well, quite simply it’s used in order to stop the shampoo from freezing while in transport. This is the same anti-freeze that you might use in your car and, needless to say, it`s NOT something that you want to be rubbing into your scalp! Anti-freezing agents may cause allergic reactions as well as skin irritation.

•Alcohol. The relatively high amounts of alcohol found in some of the shampoos available on store shelves may dry the hair and make it heavy and brittle. As you can see, there are a wide range of potentially harmful ingredients in some store-bought shampoos. If we really care about the health of our hair and our bodies, perhaps we should think twice about using them and give alternative options a chance.

4. Natural homemade shampoos are packed full of natural goodness.
A lot of people are going organic these days when it comes to their diets. While it’s important to be concerned about what we eat and drink, it’s also important to think about what we are applying to other parts of our bodies. When we use natural products on our hair, we don’t only look good, we can also be sure that we’ll feel good, too.

Some of the wonderful ingredients that we can use in our natural homemade shampoos include:
•Apricot. A natural nourishing agent that’s not only good for soothing the skin, it’s actually great for the hair too.
•Avocado. Avocado contains lots of great natural fats and proteins that can play a big part in helping to keep our hair looking healthy and lustrous.
•Chamomile. Chamomile is not only soothing, it also smells great and revitalizes the hair!
•Honey. Honey acts as a natural hair softener and gives the hair a beautiful shine.
•Coconut Milk. Coconut milk has been used by people for centuries to help keep their hair looking and feeling soft and smooth.
•Fenugreek. A very powerful Indian herb which has anti-fungal and revitalizing properties. This ingredient could be a little difficult to find, but if you decide to take the time to source it you can be sure that it will definitely be worth the effort!
•Rosemary. Because of it’s great smell and its calming properties, rosemary can help to relax us. For this reason it’s used in numerous recipes within this book. Luckily, it’s super easy to find in almost any supermarket and it combines well with almost any of the other ingredients.
•Peppermint. Peppermint can leave your hair and scalp feeling fresh and cool. It’s also said that peppermint can play a part in helping hair grow faster.
•Mint. Has similar revitalizing and cooling effects to peppermint.
•Strawberry. Strawberries contain natural compounds that are extremely nourishing for both the hair and scalp, so adding a few strawberries to your homemade shampoo a sure way to create a shampoo which will leave your hair lustrous and healthy!
•Tea Tree Oil. This amazing, natural antibiotic is a marvel of nature! It leaves the hair with a silky shine and can even act as a natural insect repellent, driving away bugs such as mosquitoes! A truly brilliant ingredient for your homemade shampoos and for your bathroom cabinet if you ever have cuts or blemishes!
•Arrowroot. The hair needs protein to grow and Arrowroot will help provide this protein via the scalp. Also said to strengthen the hair.
•Shikakai. This Indian ingredient is sure to bring your crowning glory back to life due to it’s invigorating qualities.
Making your own shampoo is a good skill to learn when you are younger. Take a look inside one of the craft shops in Brighton, or sign up for a course and you will find that it will be more than worth it!

Brighton’s link with Beethoven: George Bridgetower

Of West Indian and German parentage (his father Frederick was an ex-slave from Barbados), but born in Poland, this violinist, dubbed ‘The Abyssinian Prince’, was a child prodigy. After coming to the attention of the Prince Regent in 1791, he lived in England for most of his life. Under the patronage of the Prince, who paid Bridgetower’s father £25 to become his guardian, he studied under François-Hippolyte Barthélémon, leader of the Royal Opera; Croatian-Italian composer Giovanni Giornovichi, Thomas Attwood, organist at St Paul’s and professor at the Royal Academy of Music and, most significantly, Haydn.

In December 1789, he performed at a concert in Bath, in the presence of King George III and guests; the Bath Morning Post reported ‘There were upwards of 550 persons present, and they were gratified by such skills on the violin as created general astonishment, as well as pleasure from the boy wonder. The father was in the gallery, and so affected by the applause bestowed on his son, that tears of pleasure and gratitude flowed in profusion’.

For 14 years, Bridgetower was employed by the Prince as first violinist with his personal orchestra at his homes in Brighton and London; he also performed regularly with the Royal Philharmonic Society orchestra. In 1803, while on a tour of Germany and Austria, he performed in Vienna with Beethoven, who subsequently dedicated his Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major (Op.47) to Bridgetower — ‘Sonata per uno mulaticco lunattico’. Beethoven described Bridgetower as ‘a very able virtuoso and an absolute master of the instrument’. However, the pair fell out over a perceived slight made by Bridgetower to a woman friend of Beethoven’s, and he changed the dedication of this work to violinist Rudolphe Kreutzer. A letter from Beethoven to Bridgetower and a miniature of Bridgetower fetched over £2,000 at a Christie’s auction in 1973.

He was elected to the Royal Society of Musicians in 1807, and became a Bachelor of Music at Cambridge University in 1811. Bridgewater died in Peckham and is buried in Kensal Green cemetery. In 2009, the Pulitzer-prize winning poet Rita Dove dramatised the relationship between Beethoven and Bridgetower in her Sonata Mulattica. In the same year, Bridgetower – A Fable of 1807, a new jazz opera about him, starring Cleveland Watkiss, and composed by Julian Joseph, was produced at the Hackney Empire Theatre, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.

The origins of Brighton to the Neolithic Age

We all love the seaside and the sense of freedom it brings, but Brighton has a reputation above all other resorts in Britain for the ‘edgy’ pleasures it offers to visitors from all over the world. It’s not a bucket-and-spade kind of place, but a sophisticated ‘melting pot’ for a wide variety of people who relish the idea of having a good time in their own way. In fact sometimes it feels like a place for grown-ups who haven’t quite grown up at all.

It took a long time for a proper town to develop here and Brighton only discovered its true purpose in life only about 250 years ago. That purpose has been to attract visitors in their droves, parting them from their cash – and sometimes from their common sense, too – in return for an endless, and colourfully varied, range of entertainments. Of course, the people who live here care very much about things like schools, hospitals and rubbish collections, but that’s certainly not what Brighton means to everyone else.

As far as the wider world is concerned it isn’t really owned by its inhabitants at all – or not in the way that matters. It’s always been a place for other people to pass through on their way to somewhere else, or to pause in for a little fun before going away again. This has given it a very peculiar history. The obsession with having a good time began with George, the Prince Regent, and his extravagant friends (can you imagine the gaudy Royal Pavilion being built in any other seaside town?), and it hasn’t stopped since. In many ways this has been very useful for Brighton. The rich folk who came here during the 18th century for the ‘sea-water cure’ helped to revive a town that was very much down on its luck.

It wasn’t until 1810 that the authorities decided officially to call their town Brighton. Before that it was known as something like Brighthelmston, although more than 40 variations on the theme have been recorded. (In the Domesday Book it was Bristelmestune.) The ‘tun’ bit signifies a homestead, and the best guess is that someone called Beorthelm (which means ‘bright helmet’) was the bigwig here in Saxon times – but, if so, the poor chap’s been completely forgotten.

But the influx of so many outsiders can cause problems, too. Once the railway had arrived in the 1840s, Brighton grew faster than any other town in Britain, and during the later Victorian period many areas were horribly overcrowded, with foul-smelling slums that were a terrible health hazard because people drank water raised in buckets from wells that lay right next to their cesspits.

During the 1930s, day-trippers arrived here in their thousands, but some of them weren’t the kind of people you’d want as next-door neighbours. There were razor-wielding gangs who frequented the racecourse, and for a time the town had a very bad reputation indeed. Fortunately, Brighton has always found ways to rise above its problems, knowing that unless it puts on a good show for its visitors it can’t hope to be prosperous. Today it’s a bright and cheerful city, but – just like some of the characters who like to have their fun here – it has a colourful and occasionally disreputable past.

The first thing you need to know about Brighton is that the land it sits on wasn’t always there. Let’s go back a hundred million years to a Sussex that wasn’t the attractive jumble of hills and valleys we know today, but a flat expanse of nothing, covered by water. At one period this was a swampy region, criss-crossed by meandering rivulets and inhabited by iguanodons and other dinosaurs. Later it was flooded by the sea. The bands of sediment that built up on the bottom hardened to become the eventual rocks and soils of Sussex: sandstones, clay, shales, limestone and chalk.

During all these vast aeons they lay in an orderly fashion, one on top of the other, quietly minding their own business. The chalk, on top of everything else, was created from minute calcite crystals secreted by planktonic algae when the land was under the sea, and it built up at the rate of a metre every 100,000 years for all of 30 million years to form layers some 300 metres thick.

So why isn’t the landscape flat today? Because once, another very long time ago, there was a gradual but violent grinding of the tectonic plates (sections of the earth’s crust) that lie beneath our continent. It lifted, twisted and buckled the rocks to form the Alps in northern Europe and create the huge, if less dramatic, dome that eventually became today’s Sussex. Geologists call it the Wealden anticline – and Brighton sits on the southern edge of it.

Once rivers had cut through the rocks on their way to the sea, and once rain, frost and ice had scoured and weathered the surface over millions more years, Sussex was left with the broad bands of soils which make up our Downs and Weald today. (You might think that our chalk slopes should be called the Ups rather than the Downs, but the word comes from the Old English dun, which means ‘hill’.)

Don’t imagine, though, that the beach we walk the dog on today is where the earliest inhabitants of Sussex found it half a million years ago. The fickle sea was sometimes 40 metres higher than it is now, and sometimes all of 100 metres lower. In the cliffs at Black Rock, near Brighton Marina, you can see evidence of an ancient beach 8 metres above the current sea level and dating from about 200,000 years ago. It wasn’t until 5,000 years ago that the sea arrived at something like the present coastline, and another 2,000 years before it reached roughly the height we know today – although it has kept ebbing and flowing ever since, and at present threatens to wash away houses all around the south-east coast of England.

Let’s introduce you to a man called Roger. He’s very old – probably half a million years old – but unfortunately we can only guess what he looked like. That’s because all that remains of him is a single fragment of shin-bone. The archaeologists who affectionately gave him his daft name (no, of course nobody was called Roger then) were exploring an ancient raised beach at Boxgrove, 32 km (20 miles) west of Brighton, near Chichester. They also found a couple of teeth, but these probably belonged to someone else.
The Boxgrove people were members of a species we know as Homo heidelbergensis – their descendants being Neanderthal man (now extinct) and possibly ourselves (not yet) – and they lived in a climate similar to our own. They collected flints from the base of the cliffs and chipped away at them to fashion razor-sharp hand-axes. With these they hunted and butchered rhinoceroses, bears, bison, horses and large deer. But there were chilly times to come. Some 14,000 years ago, with glaciers forming further north, the Downs were covered by snowfields and the chalk was permanently frozen. The snow melted when the last ice age ended, and rivers cut through the hills, scouring out the valley north of Brighton which we know as Devil’s Dyke.

As the temperature rose, life became easier for the nomadic hunter-gatherers and hunter-fishers who foraged along the coast and in the dense oak forests of Sussex, which teemed with wild cattle, deer and pigs. Their rock-shelters have been excavated in the Sussex Weald, especially on the high ground to the north of Brighton, but scatterings of their worked flints have been found in the Brighton area, too.

Come the New Stone Age, Brighton at last finds a definite place on the prehistoric map. During this period settlers used polished stone tools, domesticated animals, practised weaving, made pottery and sank flint mines deep into the chalk – walk on the Downs above the Long Man of Wilmington chalk figure to the east of Brighton, and the indentations you see in the turf are the tops of those ancient mineshafts.

These settlers also left permanent marks on the landscape in the form of long and oval ‘barrows’, or burial mounds, and a series of large ‘causewayed camps’ on high points of the Downs. One of these camps can still be seen – although it’s been knocked about more than a bit – 130 metres above sea level, up by Brighton Racecourse at Whitehawk Hill. Probably built between 4000 and 3000 BC, and extended over several centuries, it comprises four concentric earthworks with crossing points, or causeways, over the ditches.

Nobody really knows what these structures were for. They weren’t sufficiently protected to have been fortifications, and the best guess is that they were centres for communal rituals of some sort.