BHASVIC – the Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College

This originated as the Brighton Proprietary Grammar and Commercial School, founded in July 1859 at Lancaster House, 47 Grand Parade. Pupils were nominated and elected to the proprietary school by shareholders, to be transferred later to the higher school on approval. There, they were instructed in the classics, arithmetic, bookkeeping, accounting, etc, and also received a non-sectarian religious education. Non-proprietary pupils paid an entrance fee of one guinea and a quarterly fee of £2 10 shillings. On May 27 1868, the 180 pupils of the Brighton Grammar School marched in procession to a new, plain, three-storey school building in Buckingham Rd. The headmaster from 1861 until 1899 was EJ Marshall, to whom a plaque has been erected on the adjacent 79 Buckingham Rd. Due to the increasing number of pupils, the Grammar School moved for a second time in September 1913 to a site off Dyke Rd; the Buckingham Rd building at the corner of Upper Gloucester Rd then became the Sussex Maternity Hospital. The new school, designed by SB Russell, was known as the Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School; the playing fields occupy 15 acres. The murals in the school hall were painted by Louis Ginnett, master at Brighton School of Art, between 1913 and 1939, on the theme ‘The History of Man in Sussex’: they were ‘Prehistoric man in Sussex’, ‘The Roman prefect builds at Bignor’, ‘The siege of Pevensey’, ‘After the battle of Hastings’, ‘Rye after the Armada’, ‘The old boys’ war memorial’, ‘Sussex ironworking’, ‘The pavilion, George IV receives a loyal address’ and ‘Hollingbury camp, full circle’. The first three panels were unveiled in October 1913 and another two were unveiled in August 1914, when the school was requisitioned for use as a military hospital. The hall bears the names of those who died during this time, and Ginnett’s fifth panels were dedicated to ex-pupils lost in WWI. Ginnett also designed — with one of his ex-pupils, the painter Charles Knight — the school hall’s stained glass windows. The school continued after the Great War as a grammar school until 1975 when, after a reorganisation of secondary eduction in Brighton, it became a sixth-form college, known as ‘BHASVIC’.

About 60% of its students come from Brighton and Hove, but many come from other state and independent schools throughout Sussex. There are approximately 1740 students, of whom approximately 90% follow GCE or AVCE Advanced courses. The majority of students are in the 16-19 age range, and following full-time courses. About 70% of its advanced level students go on to a degree course at university or a specialist course at a college of further education. The College was last inspected by Ofsted during the Autumn Term 2007. Following the publication of the Ofsted Report, BHASVIC was awarded Beacon Status in July 2008.

A new Sports Centre was opened in April 2003, and planning permission was granted for further development during 2008-2009. Disabled access ramps and steps were built in 2005 by Nick Evans Architects. Well-known former pupils of the Grammar School include the artist Aubrey Beardsley, writer and broadcaster Tony Hawks, composer Howard Blake OBE (best known for The Snowman) and barrister and former Conservative MP Sir Ivan Lawrence. The school celebrated 150 years of its history with a lunch for more than 140 Old Boys and guests, in the school hall on July 4 2009.

Extinct Bears in Brighton

Brighton’s basketball team was formed in 1973 by Dave Goss, with a squad of part-time players; the team’s fixtures were in the County League. The team were known as the Brighton Bears until 1984, when they became the Worthing Bears, before returning to their original name in 1999. They played in the British Basketball League and their home venue was the Brighton Centre.

The Bears started playing in the National League Division Two in the 1977-78 season and signed their first overseas players — Americans Kevin Kallaugher, Fritz Mayer and Pete Durgerian. By the 1981-82 season, they were playing in Division One but finished it bottom of the league.

In 1983-84, a new head coach, Bill Sheridan, improved the team and they finished that season in 8th place. However, financial problems meant they had to leave the Brighton Arena and play home games in arenas all over the south, including Bognor, Eastleigh and Hastings. Eventually, the settled in Worthing, based at the Leisure Centre there, and began the 1984/85 season as the Worthing Bears.

In November 1984, the club secured a sponsorship package with Nissan and became known as Nissan Bears of Worthing. This sponsorship ended at the conclusion of the 1985-86 season and, failing to secure new sponsors, the club did not play for over a year.

Eventually, the Bears were resurrected in time for the National League Division One 1987/88 season; they won the league, with an unbeaten record. The club went on to beat Brixton to become Division One Play-off Champions.

In 1989, they gained another American player, Herman Harried; he top-scored in 21 of his 26 games that season, and his statistics read 31 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 4.5 steals and 3 blocks per game. In 1990/91, the Bears entered the Premiership and won the Club of the Year award.

Despite all their success, the club was always plagued by financial problem and, in 1995, it was put up for sale; Brighton Council saved the day with a £30,000 grant. However, a year later, the council withdrew an agreed £25,000 grant after the club put its franchise up for sale without informing councillors. In August 1997, American multi-millionaire Greg Fullerton bought the franchise; by November, he had pulled out, without explanation. Unsurprisingly, the club finished bottom of the league that year.

The following season came the announcement that the Bears were returning to the Brighton Centre for the 1999/2000 season, in the hope that increased revenue and media exposure would give them a secure financial future. Initially, this proved to be the case, but attendances fell the following year.

In 2002/2003, coach Nick Hurse became sole owner of the club and All Stars Rico Alderson and Ralph Blalock were signed; the Bears won their first 11 games of the season. In 2005/2006, NBA legend Dennis Rodman played for the club for three games, fresh from his appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, and he drew huge audiences for the Bears. It later transpired that the Bears had broken player eligibility rules by playing Rodman alongside their three permitted work-permit players. In the summer of 2006, the Bears announced that they would be taking a year off from the BBL ‘in the interests of the long term viability of the franchise’.

Nick Nurse was explored the possibility for club into an NBA Development League or the proposed rival British Basketball Association (BBA), but nothing came of these plans. Nurse moved back to the US, and club was dissolved. The Brighton Bears played their last game in the British Basketball League on April 14 2006.

Fortifications in Brighton

The earliest known fortification of the town was possibly the ‘werke’, probably a bulwark, which was referred to in 1497, together with a ‘sea-gate’. The first major fortification was The Blockhouse, erected in 1559 on the cliff top between Ship St and Black Lion St. It was a circular fort 50 feet in diameter with flint walls 18 feet high and about 7 feet thick; it was financed out of both town and government funds. Inside were arched recesses for storing ammunition with a dungeon below, while a battery of four large cannons from the Tower of London stood on the cliff in front; ten small guns were also provided by the town. A turret on the top housed the town clock.

In 1558, The Blockhouse, a circular fort, was built near the southern end of Middle St. It was 50 feet in diameter, 16 feet in height, with 8 feet thick walls, and had six large guns and 10 small cannons. A wall nearly 16 feet high, with placements for guns, extended 400 feet eastwards to East St and westward to West St. Its four gates were East Gate, Porters Gate, Middle Gate and West Gate. It was maintained from the ‘quarter-share; claimed by the church-wardens from each fishing trip and also by the landsmen’s rates, in accordance with the Book of Ancient Customs. In 1749, residents were able to go to the Blockhouse where ‘Mary Saunders, Widow, sells fine genuine French Brandy, at nine shillings per gallon’. The fort’s foundations were gradually undermined by erosion and it was badly damaged by the great storms of 1703 and 1705. Its clock was taken down in 1726, the walls were partly washed away by another storm in January 1749 and, by 1761, the blockhouse was completely ruined. It was eventually dismantled for an improvement to the cliff-top road in 1775.

The Blockhouse was replaced by The Battery. Built by the Board of Ordnance in 1760 at the bottom of East St, it was equipped with 12 old and dangerous guns; during a salute to Princess Amelia in August 1782, a gunner had both hands blown off, and when the Prince of Wales visited the town for the first time in September 1783 another gunner was killed. Not surprisingly, the guns were not used again. The battery was severely damaged during a storm on August 7 1786 and collapsed completely on November 3 1786. Part of the battery wall was later used in the foundations of Markwell’s Hotel. Two other batteries were built: the East Cliff Battery, built in 1793 on the cliff top opposite Camelford St, was equipped with four 36-pounders, while the West Battery, built in the same year on the cliff top at Artillery Place, was equipped with eight 36-pounders. The West Battery guns were used in royal salutes, which often caused nearby windows to shatter. Only once were its guns fired in anger: a British ship, in pursuit of smugglers and therefore not displaying her colours, fired shots which landed near battery. The gunners retaliated and the ship was forced to break out her colours. The West Battery was removed January 27 1858 for the widening of King’s Road, but Artillery St and Cannon Place were named after it. The East Cliff Battery was dismantled in about 1803, as vibration from the guns and encroachment by the sea had made the walls dangerous.

Meating the town’s needs

Brighton is now regarded by many as the vegetarian capital of the UK, but ’twas not always thus. In 1848, Brighton had a staggering 54 slaughter houses: Animals slaughtered in that year alone numbered 51,623 sheep; 5,720 beasts; 4,160 calves and 3,120 pigs; 1,097,196 stone of meat was consumed in the town annually.

The abattoirs included four in Henry St, two each in Chesterfield, Paradise and Chapel streets and Essex Place; three each in Colebrook Row and Oxford St; six in Air St; four in Church St; four in North Lane and Zion Gardens; seven in Vine St (next to Robert St); and one each in Egremont St, Mount St, Park St, Colebrook Row, Telegraph St, Crescent Cottages, Upper Bedford St, Trafalgar St, Hart St, Little Russell St and Meeting House Lane. One of the biggest was the one in Oxford Court, between Oxford St and Oxford Place; cattle were herded to this site from the station down Trafalgar St, along London Rd. In 1849, the government appointed a commissioner, Edward Cresy, to investigate Brighton’s health. In his subsequent report, Cresy made repeated references to the abattoirs and the problems caused by the animal waste, which usually ended up in cesspools. These then contaminated the wells which provided water for the local population, resulting in epidemics of typhoid, cholera, scarlet fever and tuberculosis. Cresy said, ‘Nothing is more injurious or ought to be deprecated more than that custom of keeping pigs to devour the offal of a butcher’s slaughterhouse’.

In June 1894, all the North Laine abattoirs closed and slaughtering transferred to the Brighton Municipal Abattoir, Hollingdean. This was built so that, post-Cresy, the abattoirs in poor residential areas could be closed. Nearly 7,000 animals were handled in the first year and, by 1928, the figure had risen to some 34,400 animals, with only 11 other slaughterhouses remaining; there have been no independent abattoirs in Brighton since 1936. The Hollingdean site included a special casting pen for slaughter according to Jewish ritual and, by the late 60s, granted a license to a Muslim ritual slaughterer. Business would start at 6am and end at 1pm but, for many years, private butchers and their staff carried out the work, sometimes late into the evening.

In the 1950s, two slaughtering contractors, the Brighton & Hove Meat Traders Ltd and the Fatstock Marketing Corporation Ltd, both meat wholesalers, were based at the abattoir. In 1949, nearly 50,000 cows and sheep were slaughtered there. In the 50s and 60s, the number of cattle decreased but, in 1959 alone, over 80,000 sheep and pigs were killed there. ‘Humane’ slaughtering of animals was adopted by Brighton in 1922, 11 years before it became compulsory throughout the UK. The public abattoir was closed in 1986, after repeatedly failing to meet hygiene standards.

Ghostly Brighton

The city we know today as Brighton was first settled back in Saxon times, with the main industries being farming and fishing. Soon designated streets developed, these being North, South, East and West Streets and all are still in existence today. Also surviving are the smaller passages that sprung up in order to navigate between the main streets. These are now known as Brighton’s famous ‘Lanes’.

Brighton saw its fair share of prosperity as well as despair. When the French attacked in 1514, the town was destroyed as the wooden buildings burned to the ground. The occupants were defiant and soon rebuilt their town and towards the end of the century records show that Brighton was home to over 400 fisherman and their families.

However, further wars with both the French and the Dutch meant that Brighton and its fishing trade suffered. Additionally as the 18th Century arrived, it brought with it powerful storms that battered and brought destruction to the entire South East coast. Brighton’s fishing trade was at an end.

However, the town was about to have a regeneration. In 1750, a Dr Russell wrote a paper enthusing about the many health benefits to both body and mind that were to be obtained from sea air and sea bathing. Soon the rich were flocking to the coast and when the Prince Regent chose Brighton as his favourite coastal retreat in 1783, the town’s status was sealed. Hotels, cafés, and theatres appeared to provide accommodation and entertainment for the new visitors.

During the following century, other iconic landmarks of Brighton were created including the wonderful Pavilion, the once grand and beautiful West Pier and the aquarium, now the Sea Life Centre. In 2010, Brighton played host to the annual World Horror Convention. The organisers chose the city to be their UK host as they believe it to be the most haunted place in the country. Other cities may disagree but with a wide and varied assortment of spirits from monks and nuns to smugglers, sailors, publicans and soldiers, Brighton certainly has a plethora of paranormal activity to offer.



Fancy going on a walk of haunted Brighton? Begin at the chapel formerly known as Trinity Chapel which stands on the corner of Prince Albert Street and Ship Street. Look to your left and you will see the FRIENDS’ MEETING HOUSE, on Ship Street. Originally built in 1805 for the local Quaker community, it now has a dual purpose as both a place of worship and an education centre.

The Meeting House has been rumoured to have a presence for many years. One of the best known accounts is that of two women who, in April 1997, accidentally got locked in one evening after attending a class there. Using a mobile phone, they were able to get the police to contact a key holder. However whilst waiting for their release, the women heard a key turn in the lock and distinct shuffling type footsteps close to them. However, no being emerged and the building was entirely empty, except for themselves.

Walk south down Ship Street, then turn right onto Union Street and find the FONT & FIRKIN PUB, with a JEWELLERS’ SHOP opposite. This building was originally a Presbyterian church built in 1688 and served this purpose for the following 300 years until the congregation eventually built a new church and moved out in 1988. The building then stood empty until 1994 when a brewery company bought it with plans to turn it into a pub. The Font & Firkin opened its doors a year later.

During the conversion, builders reported that their tools were regularly moved around overnight. At some point during the late 1800s, church authorities had a number of bodies removed from a burial chamber beneath the church which were then buried elsewhere. However it seems some must have remained although whether this was accidentally or intentionally is unknown.

When conversion works in 1994 required the builders to remove part of the ground floor in order to allow for the fitment of brewery vats, more human bones were found. Shortly after the new pub opened, a barmaid apparently saw an ashtray fling itself off a shelf, and another witness saw the face of a young woman wearing a grey shawl peering through the interior front doors. The image vanished as quickly as it had appeared. When a colleague checked the outer doors, they were locked, meaning that no-one could have got in or out during that time.

It seems that the upheaval of the conversion did not confine itself to the walls of the old church. A jeweller’s shop that stood opposite was also witness to several extremely odd occurrences during the time, all of which were destructive to a greater or lesser degree. Two porcelain plates flew out from their mountings on the wall and onto the floor. One remained complete but the other broke into pieces.

A few months later, with construction still taking place across the lane, a very strange Saturday afternoon ensued at the jewellers. In the space of two hours, and with plenty of witnesses, four separate incidents occurred. Firstly, with no-one touching it the glass door of a display cabinet spontaneously shattered. Later it was noticed that the amber part of a necklace had completely disintegrated.

Next a child’s bottle of drink exploded without cause and luckily without injury and finally on this extraordinary day the jeweller’s wife looked at her watch and noticed that the glass was entirely shattered. She was positive that she had not knocked the watch against anything.

The activity seemed to settle down soon after the pub opened. Turn right down MEETING HOUSE LANE. Keep right, then take the first left. Go to 41 Meeting House Lane. Number 41 Meeting House Lane is now a café but the building itself dates back to the 17th Century and has been home to an assortment of businesses. Several years ago an antiques gallery occupied the site. During this time several people witnessed an apparition of a middle aged man with greying hair dressed in grey trousers and a dark coloured, knee length overcoat. In each description he is said to be carrying a canvas or linen bag which looks to be the shape of a doctor’s bag. Unexplained thumps and sudden drops in temperature have also been experienced on the premises.

The lower floor of this building was once home to Brighton’s Museum of Childhood, which no longer exists in the town. One visitor got rather a shock to see a pale faced unkempt toddler sitting on the stairs. When the visitor went to speak to the child, she faded away.

Walk to 4-5 Meeting House Lane to see the BATH ARMS PUB.
When it was first built in 1864, this pub was called the True Briton Inn but the name was changed within three years. Several health spas were being built in the town following Dr Russell’s declaration, so the name change was possibly a bid to cash in on the health resort reputation of the town.

There have been a couple of different apparitions in this pub. One is a man wearing a tri corn hat. Another male has also been seen, this time dressed in a Victorian style with a black overcoat and black brimmed hat. It’s possible that one of these gentlemen is a former landlord. Rumour has it that the man committed suicide by drowning. He calmly walked into the sea and began swimming out to sea and was never seen again.

Glasses, bottles and other items have been witnessed by both staff and customers to move of their own accord. Go back up Meeting House Lane which will bring you to the back of the Friends’ Meeting House. Take the first left at the T junction. Immediately on your right is a BRICKED UP DOORWAY.

During the 2nd World War, coastal areas were acknowledged as being at the highest risk of invasion and often classified as a ‘restricted’ area. This meant that only local residents and essential personnel were allowed to be in the town. Everyone had an identity card and movement at night was limited. It was under such circumstances that one of the best known sightings of the Grey Nun of Meeting House Lane was seen. A woman firewatcher on duty in The Lanes one night was surprised to see a hooded figure in grey moving along the lane towards the Friends’ Meeting House. The firewatcher called out to the figure but received no response. The watcher then ran after the individual and was astonished to see it drift through a blocked up doorway in the wall of the lane. There are those that think this apparition may not be a nun but perhaps a female Quaker. Their traditional clothes are plain in both design and colour, including grey and the women often wore bonnets or shawls to cover their heads. Those that have seen the apparition of a nun in this area (whether this is the same one or another wraith) close up tell that there is no face within the dark hood of her habit.

How Brighton’s pubs have changed over the years

The origins of Brighton lie in a small Saxon settlement known as Beorhthelm’s Tun, which translates as the Farm of Beorhthelm. Its centre was on a ridge once known as the Knab, now called Brighton Place and site of the Druids Head pub. The people would have brewed their own ale, sweet, unhopped, flavoured with herbs and spices and consumed in simple alehouses. A division between farming and fishing communities had occurred by at least the Norman Conquest, but in medieval times the latter had developed into a significant industry. After a charter was granted by Edward II in 1313 to what was by then called Brighthelmstone, or one of the many variants of that spelling, buyers and sellers plied their wares at fairs and markets and the town began to prosper. A large area called the Hempshares was set aside for the fishermen to grow the hemp from which their ropes and twine were made. In 1580 there were 400 able mariners who outnumbered the land men by nearly four to one. By 1829 there were still 300 fishermen. The old inns were then concentrated around gaps from the beach and in the neighbourhood of the old fish market. Many were used almost exclusively by fishermen. Indeed, it was their custom to gather at the Greyhound (now the Fishbowl) near the bottom of East Street to auction their daily catch.

The Greyhound had previously gone by the nautical name of the Anchor. It is the city’s only surviving pub that can claim a documented link back to the 1600s, which in Brighton is as old as it gets. Other existing pubs have stated an earlier date of establishment: the Cricketers, the Seven Stars and the Druids Head have all at some point made a case for the 1500s. The evidence for all these claims is circumstantial at best and must in any case refer to previous houses on the site. That the medieval town, largely of wood and thatch construction, was torched by French raiders in 1514 is less in dispute than the extent to which it was destroyed. Many foreshore dwellings were also lost to two great storms of the early 1700s and by constant coastal erosion, by which time the population had fallen by a third. Whatever the causes, architectural historians are firm in their judgement that Brighton does not have domestic or commercial buildings with fabric surviving from the sixteenth century or earlier. What is retained from the medieval period is the grid layout of the old town, with the coast bounded by West Street, North Street and East Street. The pubs in the area now known as The Lanes, were mostly licensed by the late 1700s, by which time the town had a new-found prosperity.

In 1800 the town had forty-one inns – one for every thirty houses and 178 residents. By 1831, the number of inns had more than doubled to eighty-nine but the population had increased over five-and-a-half fold to 40,634. Brighton, as it was officially known from 1810, had been transformed from a fishing community in decline to a pleasure ground for the famous and the fashionable. One attraction was seawater, or rather the growing belief in its supposed health-giving properties. In 1750 Dr Richard Russell, of nearby Lewes, published his Dissertation on the Use of Sea Water in the Diseases of the Glands. It was originally in Latin and obviously aimed at learned society. Seawater bathhouses, Awsiter’s, Brill’s and Mahomed’s, soon sprang up in the town. Although long since demolished, their presence lives on in the names of two pubs in The Lanes: the Pump House and the Bath Arms. Another reason for the turnabout in the town’s fortunes was the Royal patronage of the Prince of Wales, later King George IV. Enormously popular in Brighton, ‘Prinny’ brought with him the libertine culture of excessiveness that characterises the city to this very day. It became necessary to both accommodate and amuse the influx of visitors and the Georgian inns fulfilled this function admirably. One of the largest hostelries was the Old Ship, still standing on the seafront and which gave its name to Ship Street. It then had seventy beds, stabling for 100 horses, plus a coffee room and wine vaults.

By 1851 Brighton had 65,569 residents and over 200 licensed premises. The town had become less attractive to fashionable society and lost its Royal patronage in 1845. What fundamentally changed its character was the coming of the railway, with the symbolic arrival of the first train from London on 21 September 1841. In the decade before the opening of the line, the population of the town increased by 15 per cent; the increase the decade after was 41 per cent. This growth consisted of a new, more democratic set of social classes – professionals, clerks, artisans, servants, shopkeepers and the second- or third-class day tripper. The railway was also directly responsible for new purpose-built hotels just outside the terminus, the Railway (now the Grand Central) and the Prince Albert. It equally encouraged a proliferation of plebeian pubs, many of which originated as basic beer retailers licensed under the 1830 Wellington Act. Trafalgar Street once had eleven pubs plus three unnamed beerhouses. The railway also bought a halt to the days of the old coaching inns, although some, notably the Royal Oak in St James’s Street, survived as hotels. In March 1892 Brighton had 572 hotels, public houses and beerhouses for a population of 115,400. The greatest concentration was in the poorer areas: Edward Street had twenty-six pubs. Yet the number had peaked and continuous contraction was to follow.

Some sections of Victorian society exhibited a strong moralistic streak that exhorted abstinence from the demon drink. Temperance organisations proved to be adept at political lobbying, with successive legislation being passed to curtail opening hours. Magistrates were also given more power to refuse the renewal of licenses and the number of pubs subsequently decreased. Faced with fewer outlets, the common brewers began securing their market share of tied houses by purchasing more of them to rebuild in majestic and opulent style. The additional capital required for such a venture was raised through flotation on the stock market. The bubble burst in 1899, but not before it gave rise to what has been called the golden age of pub building. This is how Tamplins, Brighton’s biggest brewery, came to make expensive alterations to many of its pubs in the late 1890s, particularly to those it purchased from the West Street Brewery following a further share issue. Individual proprietors also turned to local architects to redesign their pubs in sumptuous style, with majestic mahogany bars, cut and etched glass and sweeping island counters. The Seven Stars in Ship Street, the Lion in St James’s Street and the Quadrant in North Street Quadrant were all altered in such fashion in this final decade of the nineteenth century.

A phenomenon of the 1920s and 1930s was the improved public house, based on a philosophy of ‘fewer, bigger, better’. There was to be no return however to Victorian flamboyance: solid Brewers’ Tudor and elegant neo-Georgian were among the preferred styles. The latter was taken up by the Kemp Town Brewery, whereas the Portsmouth and Brighton United Breweries favoured the use of green faience tiling. Both these local breweries were evangelists for the improved public house. In this period they rebuilt or newly built sixty-nine and forty-nine pubs, respectively (27 per cent and 17 per cent of their tied-house stock). Four examples from each brewery are visited in this book. The movement for modernised pubs was motivated by a reformist zeal that was forward-looking and progressive. The intention was to do away with disreputable ‘drink-shops’ that had few amenities and no ancillary activities to discourage perpendicular drinking by a predominantly male clientele. The improved pub aimed to promote cultural respectability by appealing to a wider class base and creating a comfortable environment welcoming to women and families. A Ladies’ Parlour and a Children’s Room were, for instance, provided in the mock-Tudor King & Queen, Marlborough Place, rebuilt 1931–36 by Clayton & Black.

If the 1930s were reforming then the 1960s were futuristic. Under the banner of ‘slum clearance’, tower blocks replaced traditional terraces. Whole swathes of Brighton streets with their corner pubs were lost to the wrecking ball, particularly to the northeast from Edward Street and west of London Road. Others were demolished for the construction of the Churchill Square shopping centre. Existing pubs also underwent changes. In a relatively affluent society less concerned with traditional class distinctions, the internal compartmentalisation of pubs into separate Public, Private and Saloon Bars appeared increasingly anachronistic. Both the King & Queen and the Golden Fleece (now the Market Inn) had their three bars knocked into one at the end of the 1960s. The décor altered, too. The industry came to be dominated by a handful of big national brewers: the ‘choice’ in Brighton was mostly between Charrington, Courage, Watneys or Whitbread. These created a corporate, branded identity for all their pubs, eroding their individuality. At the same time, young people had both income and leisure time at their disposal and were targeted by brewery marketing executives who thought mild beer and matchwood interiors to be hopelessly outmoded. Lager, keg bitter, Campari and Babycham became the order of the day. Wall-to-wall-carpeted pubs with chromium, plastic and Formica fittings became the newfangled places to drink.

The past thirty years have seen something of a reversal of such trends. First, there is a concern with conservation and heritage. In 1999, several Brighton pubs of architectural significance received Grade-II building listing protection or had amendments made to their listings. During the same period, the Campaign for Real Ale has identified local pubs with heritage interiors of national and regional importance. In 2015, the city council placed fourteen Brighton pubs on its new Local List of Heritage Assets. Second, the importance of locality has been emphasised. This is linked to the resurgence of real ale and the astonishing growth of microbreweries. Brighton had lost all its old local breweries to a process of acquisition by the 1960s. The city now boasts four micros that have opened in the last four years. Third, the industry has been deregulated. If this has led to pubs being owned mostly by non-brewing companies, then most of these Pubcos, such as Drink In Brighton stock locally-brewed beers. The market is also highly segmented, with bars, licensed cafés and gastro pubs all catering for different type of customers with variegated tastes. In many cases these drinking places inhabit imposing and historic buildings once used for other purposes, such as chapels, banks and newspaper offices. Brighton has certainly retained its Regency raffishness but has adapted to suit the changed conditions of the twenty-first century.

Some secrets of Brighton

Secrets are generally things held by individuals, are little known and are things that people don’t want known. Brighton is one of the UK’s seemingly best-known places and a location visited by so many people in such large numbers every year – over 10 million per annum still. However, scratch beneath the surface and Brighton can be a dark, brooding, secretive and mysterious place. Towns at the end of the line always are; there is something exciting about a place where 180 degrees of your options for movement are wet, increasingly deep, dark and dangerous.

Brighton is also not just a place on the edge, it has sometimes nearly been pushed over the edge. Invaded by Saxons, Vikings and Normans, each of whom left not just their place names but a bloody footprint, Brighton (or Brighthelmstone as it was until 1810) was nearly wiped off the map by the French, economic downturns and most of all the encroaching waves. The sea led to Brighthelmstone being nearly abandoned with 113 buildings washed away in 1665 and dozens more in the early eighteenth century. Daniel Defoe, who knew a few things about waterside locations, questioned whether the investment needed to pay for coastal defences to save the town was worth spending.

It was then saved by the same waves, this time however as a substance for the rich to be dunked under, to swim in, promenade beside and even to drink with milk. Dr Richard Russell’s decision to treat his wealthiest patients with his sea cures in his hydro at his nearest low-lying established coastal settlement accelerated the town’s recovery but also the idea of spending time by the seaside. The fact that the first visitors were extensively wealthy meant that the secrets were linked with court intrigues and affairs. The secrecy that wealth could buy meant that from its earliest days Brighton was built as a place of gossip, scandal and intrigue. Brighton became fashionable as people copied the Prince Regent, himself escaping the watchful eyes of court so that he could indulge in whatever secretive and scandalous behaviour or relationships he chose. He chose, of course, to engage in his on-off secret marriage with Mrs Fitzherbert away from his father’s gaze. So those who copied the prince by moving to Brighton were moving, or at least visiting, based on a pack of secrets.

Many people don’t know that despite being on the south coast, Brighton has spread out not only northerly, westerly and easterly but southerly since its earliest days. Also little known is that its southerly fishing community, which was based on the beach, was washed away by the 1700s due to erosion and horrendous storms. An early drawing of Richard Russell’s house, pictured here was precariously perched on crumbling chalk cliffs, whereas today the Royal Albion Hotel that has replaced it is safely inland behind a dual carriageway, promenade, esplanade and a wide shingle beach. Brighton was being eroded northwards, its chalk cliffs offering little protection from the encroaching tides, but the building of the coastal King’s Road (paid for by George IV, hence the name), sturdy groynes and tidal deposition in between these, means Brighton has since moved southwards further out over the sea than the old fishing dwellings beneath the cliffs ever did. Should you believe in the spiritual, these hardy fishing folk, who would have lost their lives in droves in the storms of the eighteenth century, don’t inhabit the area where the sea now is, but instead our sewer tunnels and space under our coastal road, built outwards over where the sea once lapped.

We forget that where the Madeira Terraces now stand, the cliffs underneath, encased in cement and awaiting a much-needed restoration at time of writing, were once the shoreline. We also forget that these chalk cliffs, always referred to on early maps (the area where the Metropole is today was once ‘West Laine Cliff Butts’ for example) have been not only encased under concrete and tarmac, but are part of the same cliffs that make up the cliffs at Peacehaven, the Seven Sisters and indeed even Beachy Head.

Brighton has lost not just its beach-dwelling fishing village, but also a village high up on the Downs. Balsdean, near Woodingdean, was a Saxon village that survived the Vikings and the Normans but was evacuated in the Second World War so that the artillery could use its rural buildings as targets in preparation for D-Day. Balsdean once had a manor house, cricket pitch, barns, lunatic asylum and even a chapel. It also had pluck. It reputedly was where Sussex yeomen stood their ground and stopped invading Frenchmen reaching Lewes in 1377 after the destruction of Rottingdean.

Heading under the land, Brighton has numerous tunnels – Kemp Town’s is one of the most secretive and was believed to be a smugglers’ tunnel, as is one that led towards the Druid’s Head. The Kemp Town tunnel, which has since collapsed and been filled in, gained its reputation partly due to the publicity campaign by Magnus Volk when his electric railway was extended. Volk was allowed to extend his original railway as he was forced to move the westwards end station eastwards for a planned swimming pool that never was built. The extension was also partially allowed as recompense for the treatment Volks received by the council over his ‘Daddy Long Legs’, where his seagoing railway was forced to be rerouted around new groynes, effectively meaning that it had to close. Black Rock, before the days of the construction of the mammoth marina, was a wild and windswept place and it was easy for Volks to claim the tunnel had been a smugglers’ route. The truth was far less exciting. In the 1820s, the tunnel was needed for the building of Kemp Town. Its supremely wealthy residents were far from the sort that would countenance illicit imports to the country, but the construction of the estate meant that large amounts of building materials had to be brought by sea. In the days before the railways, much of Brighton’s resources were brought into the town across the beach. Kemp Town even had its own temporary marina as the estate was being built, such a huge building project it was. It was big enough to bankrupt its financier, Thomas Kemp MP, who ended up dying in poverty in France. The Pavilion was also rumoured to have an underground tunnel to everywhere, including the Druid’s Head and the Market Inn, then called the Three Chimneys after its ownership by the Pavilion’s head chimneysweep.

Not surprisingly, considering the Prince Regent’s drinking habits, there is even rumoured to be a tunnel from the Pavilion to the shop that sold booze on the corner of Church Street and New Road! Roedean has a tunnel built in 1910 to the sea. Southern Water have built a tunnel 5 kilometres long and 6 metres wide under the whole of Brighton and Hove, following the line of the coast but it is not a secret; instead it exists to prevent storm water entering the sea straight from Brighton’s drains without being treated first to make it nice and clean. A more magical tunnel in Brighton must be the small one in Sussex Square that goes to the sea. It is said to have inspired Lewis Carroll when he saw a rabbit disappear down it. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland therefore owes something to our waterside wonderland of Brighton! The Daddy Long Legs mentioned earlier, which travelled across the land at low tide (and also through the sea at high tide) is also said to have inspired H. G. Wells to create the aliens in The War Of The Worlds (1898).

Moving from below the earth to 400 feet above it, the land high above Brighton is where the earliest Brightonians were buried. This is in a causewayed enclosure, which was some sort of camp for feasting and rituals, but not, it seems, a military defence. The camp is over 1,000 years older than Stonehenge, dating from the Neolithic part of the Stone Age (c. 4000 BC–2500 BC). The remains of a young woman and her newborn child told us much about this era, but also provided us with questions we may perhaps never answer, such as why were they buried, did they die of natural causes and why were they buried with animal bones and other rubbish? Was this a punishment for a young mother back at a time when children were lucky to make it into adulthood? The fact the mother was buried with an ox bone, two fossil sea urchins (called shepherds’ crowns) and two chalk ‘pendants’ with holes drilled in them perhaps suggests otherwise – these were probably good-luck talismans for the afterlife. The remains are at Brighton Museum should you wish to make your own mind up.

Places to visit in Brighton


All Saints is the main Anglican church in Hove and has been the parish church since 1892. The parish of Hove and Preston has been united since 1531 and work started on the new church on this site in 1889 to cope with the increasing population. The church is a large gothic style structure although the planned tower was never completed. In addition to the regular services which are held here the building is also used for theatre productions, dinners and music events. Sadly, on Christmas Day in 2013 there was a break-in which led to a stained glass window being smashed which set back the church’s £45,000 appeal to raise funds to repair windows in the sanctuary area which is still on-going.

There is no admission charge for entry but donations are always welcome. The church is open every day of the week and there are services each day which are listed on the church’s web-site.


The Booth Museum was founded in 1874 by Richard Booth and focuses on all aspects of natural history, from birds to fossils and from butterflies to skeletons. Booth’s own particular interest was in ornithology and there is a very Victorian feel to the museum, with the various displays. There is also a more modern mission behind the museum, which aims to promote conservation and tries to make the temporary exhibitions have more of a modern feel. A visit is recommended although the new closure at lunch can be a little awkward for visitors to work around.

There is no admission charge for entry and the museum is open six days a week, being closed only on Thursdays. The museum is open from 10.00 until 12.00 and from 13.15 until 17.00 on Mondays to Saturdays (other than Thursdays when it is closed all day) and from 14.00 until 17.00 on Sundays.


This was once known as the Palace Pier before the steady decline of the West Pier meant that it became better known as just Brighton Pier. Work started on the pier in 1891 with the concert hall opened at the end of the structure in 1893. Today there are numerous eating places along the 1,772-foot long pier, with a fairground at the end and various stalls along the length. A visit to the pier is recommended, but some of the rides can be expensive (although all day passes are available for £15 on weekdays and £17.50 on weekends), although some discounts are available for booking in advance online.

There is no admission charge for entrance and the pier is open every day of the year other than Christmas Day. Opening hours can vary, and the various attractions along the pier have different opening times, but generally the opening hours are 10.00 until 22.00 every day.


This was once known as the Palace Pier before the steady decline of the West Pier meant that it became better known as just Brighton Pier. Work started on the pier in 1891 with the concert hall opened at the end of the structure in 1893. Today there are numerous eating places along the 1,772-foot long pier, with a fairground at the end and various stalls along the length. A visit to the pier is recommended, but some of the rides can be expensive (although all day passes are available for £15 on weekdays and £17.50 on weekends), although some discounts are available for booking in advance online.

There is no admission charge for entrance and the pier is open every day of the year other than Christmas Day. Opening hours can vary, and the various attractions along the pier have different opening times, but generally the opening hours are 10.00 until 22.00 every day.


The fishing museum aims to tell the story of Brighton’s history with the sea from the origins of Brighthelmstone and the fledgling industry through to the twentieth century. There is a 27-foot long clinker built punt boat as well as hundreds of other exhibits, and it also tells the story of how many fishermen transformed their boats from fishing craft into touring boats for tourists. The museum is well laid out and is recommended, especially given that there is no entrance charge.

There is no admission charge for entrance and the museum is open seven days a week. The opening hours vary slightly depending on volunteers (who are welcoming and really engage about the subject), but the museum is generally open throughout the day.


Hove Museum and Art Gallery is situated in what was originally a Victorian villa called Brooker Hall and the building was used in the First World War to house German prisoners of war. It was purchased in 1926 by Hove Corporation and the following year was opened as a museum. There are a range of displays covering not just the local history of the area, but also special collections relating to toys, cinema, crafts and fine art. The museum is quite small and the displays are a little bit random but in many ways this adds to the charm. There is also a café here, run by the London company of Peyton and Byrne, which offers a range of light meals and snacks and which also specialises in tea with over twenty varieties available to choose from.

There is no admission charge for entrance and the museum is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (closed all day on Wednesdays) from 10.00 until 17.00 and on Sundays from 14.00 until 17.00. There are occasionally events and special exhibitions which are chargeable, but tickets are available on-site in the museum gift shop.


This small museum has a range of penny arcade machines which can still be played on, although sometimes several can be out of order and awaiting repair. The museum has done well to survive as it has had financial difficulties in the past, and the rent in its current location is expensive. Although there is limited space in the museum it is worth a visit and children are likely to find the machines intriguing. The museum closed for much of 2014 following serious storm damage but perseverance helped the owners keep it running.

There is no admission charge for entrance and the museum is open from 12.00 until 18.00 every day of the week, although in winter months the museum can be closed during inclement weather. The museum does charge for old pennies (£2 for 20) to put into the machines which is its primary form of income.

A brief history of Brighton past and present

Origins of Brighton

There was no major Roman settlement in what is now Brighton although some traces of a villa have been found, as have some stone and bronze age implements suggesting an earlier occupation. It is known that a small Saxon settlement was established in the area and a small village started to build up based round the fishing industry. One of the first pieces of documented evidence about the area was the Domesday Book, a Norman survey of the lands they now controlled following the Norman conquest, and this identified what was then known as Brighthelmstone (or Bristelmestune) as a village with 400 residents.

Middle Ages

There has been a religious structure on the site of the current St. Nicholas’s Church since Saxon times, although the current building was built in the twelfth century and was renovated in the thirteenth century. In 1312 King Edward II granted the right to hold a market to the then village, securing its position as a market town. Hove at this time was an established village having had its own church which had been built in the twelfth century, but there were fewer than one hundred residents, and even by the time of the 1801 census this number hadn’t increased.

In 1514 much of Brighton was destroyed by French invaders, and it was attacked again in 1545. The French threat was of continual concern to the town authorities and by the end of the sixteenth century walls and gates were constructed in a bid to ensure strong fortifications would help defend against any future attacks.

Development of Brighton

By the mid seventeenth century Brighton was becoming a much larger settlement, the largest in Sussex, but it was still predominantly based around the fishing industry. Towards the end of the century the town had started to decline slightly, the population fell and many of the residents were suffering financially. The fortunes of Brighton were about to change as by the mid eighteenth century the town was benefitting from the new interest in drinking and bathing in sea-water for health reasons. The doctor who was particularly responsible for this new thinking was Dr Richard Russell of nearby Lewes who had set up a practice in the town in 1753 and who had published books on the benefits of sea-water. By 1769 the first salt water baths were built in the town which attracted many more visitors to the town keen to experience the fresh air and bathe in the waters.

In 1783 the Prince of Wales, later George IV, first visited Brighton to see a relative and found the town suited his temperament. The Royal Pavilion was built in the city by the Prince of Wales in the 1780s as a Georgian mansion and the prestige of the town was significantly enhanced by these Royal links. The Royal Pavilion is today one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area, although it wasn’t until 1815 that John Nash undertook the expansion of the Royal Pavilion into the grand affair which is now one of Brighton’s best known landmarks.

In 1823 the Chain Pier opened, which encouraged more passengers on the then increasingly popular Dieppe-Brighton line although this service was to end in 1847 when the ferry on the English side moved to Newhaven. In the late 1830s the local newspaper suggested that the town “has all the advantages of sea port towns, without any of their disadvantages. She is at once the seat of Royalty and fashion, and the southern emporium of commerce and trade”. In 1832 William Cobbett wrote that “Brighton certainly surpasses in beauty all other towns in the world” and many new homes were built in the town to cater for the increased demand to live in such as a fashionable resort.

The Railway

Another one of the greatest influences on the development of Brighton was the advent of the railway, on which work started in 1839, which reached the town in 1840 with regular services starting in 1841. The planning hadn’t been easy, there had been arguments for several years on whether there should be a direct line from Brighton to London or whether it should go via Shoreham. The decision was eventually taken to build a direct line for reasons of efficiency, but a branch line was built which connected the town to Shoreham and other coastal towns.

The railway allowed Londoners to visit the town to enjoy the sea and also to try and catch a sight of Queen Victoria and to ‘take the waters’. In just one week of 1850 over 73,000 passengers were carried by the railways and the new transport connection helped the population grow from under 50,000 in 1840 to over 90,000 people in 1870, a far cry from the 1760 Brighton population of just 2,000. Queen Victoria wasn’t though enamoured by Brighton in the same way as George IV and she preferred the residence of Osborne House in the Isle of Wight. The Royal Pavilion was sold to the Town Corporation in 1850 and is now accessible as a museum.

First World War

Brighton was fortunate to escape much of the damage suffered by other cities in the First World War and many people came from London in a bid to avoid zeppelin raids. The town was important though for its work in treating injured soldiers and between 1914 and 1916 the Royal Pavilion was used to house Indian soldiers who needed medical treatment, and from 1916 it was used to help those who had lost limbs in the conflict.

Following the end of the First World War there was an increased demand for a better quality of housing, which led to an extensive slum clearance programme in the 1920s and 1930s. Much of the work was over-due and had been debated since the late nineteenth century, but the demolitions of property also had the unfortunate result of leading to the demise of many of Brighton’s old buildings. One example of this change which took place in the 1930s was the opening of the Brighton Municipal Market in 1937 which was built on properties which were demolished during the slum clearance.

Second World War

Although Brighton had remained relatively immune from air attacks in the First World War, Brighton was an obvious target for the Germans, both as a potential landing area and also as a bombing target. The sea-front was closed in July 1940 and the piers had gaps made in the decking to prevent them being used for landing, and 30,000 people from the town were evacuated.

There were a series of air raids throughout the conflict, with 198 people killed in total. The first air raid took place on 15th July 1940 when bombs were dropped on the Kemp Town area, on 14th September 1940 the Odeon cinema was bombed which killed 6 and injured 49 and on 25th May 1943 a large bombing raid killed 24 and injured 127. Hundreds of houses were destroyed or badly damaged and both the railway and local industry were heavily hit by the bombings. A war memorial marking those who lost their lives in both wars is located in the northern part of Old Steine Gardens.

Modern and Cosmopolitan Brighton

The end of the Second World War led to a drive to modernise the town, but there was a concern that much of Brighton’s heritage would be lost. In 1945 the Regency Society of Brighton and Hove was formed with the aim of protecting the Regency terraces and squares. The campaign was successful and the plan to replace Brunswick Square, Brunswick Terrace and Adelaide Crescent by high-rise tower blocks was scrapped. Brighton became an increasingly popular seaside destination for day-trippers and holiday makers in the 1950s and 1960s, although it is also known for the ‘Battle of Brighton’ which took place in May 1964 between the ‘mods’ and the ‘rockers’. The mods got their name from their modern style of dress and were seen as middle-class whilst the rockers were known for their leather jackets and motor-bikes, and the conflict between them took place on Brighton beach, destroying hundreds of deckchairs and smashing tens of windows. The iconic 1979 film Quadrophenia was set in the 1960s and depicted the mods and rockers conflicts on Brighton beach.

In 1984 Brighton received worldwide attention following the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel which nearly killed the Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The attack saw the hotel badly damaged and five people were killed, with 31 injured. Despite this Brighton and Hove continued to be popular with visitors and didn’t suffer from the decline that affected some other seaside towns and cities. The town got a reputation as a cosmopolitan and welcoming location with a tolerance and acceptance of minority groups. After a long campaign it was announced in 1997 that as part of the planned millennium celebrations that Brighton and Hove had been offered city status by Queen Elizabeth II.

Although Brighton and Hove are two very different places they have combined to offer a popular location to visit and live. The bohemian and cosmopolitan environment has meant that the people living here have created a unique place which is proud of its green credentials, being the location for the country’s only ever Green Member of Parliament, and its welcome for visitors and residents of any age, gender, sexuality or colour.