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Brighton, Hove and Worthing, Sussex

Brighton Theatres Index

The Sea Front at Brighton with the Palace pier, now Brighton Pier, in the background - Photo M.L.

Above - The Sea Front at Brighton with the Palace pier, now Brighton Pier, in the background

 

GLORIOUS BRIGHTON

From 'The Face Of London' by Harold P. Clunn 1956

Preston Circus and the Valley Gardens to the Aquarium and the centre of the town.

Brighton, population 155,350, and Hove, 68,580 (1949), together embody all the essential features which go to make up a miniature 'London by-the-sea'. Glorious Brighton is much more than an ordinary seaside resort.

It is the metropolis of the South Coast and a great town with a history, which in point of size and importance stands in the same relation to other resorts as London does to the great provincial cities of the kingdom. Like London, the larger it grows the more attractive it becomes.

The King's Road, forming the principal section of its five miles of sea front, and lined with palatial hotels and shops, is more suggestive of the Victoria Embankment or the marine boulevard of some great metropolis than of an ordinary seaside promenade. Between the two World Wars extensive improvements and street widenings were carried out in the town, and the transformation which has taken place in those years in Brighton is scarcely less startling than that of London during that same period.

Western Road, which has been much widened for almost its entire length, invites comparison with Oxford Street in its mile of fine shops, extending from the Clock Tower to Palmiera Square. North Street contains the chief local branches of the five great banks, and East Street with its luxury shops, has something of the charm of Bond Street. West Street. leading down to the sea front, once a narrow shabby thoroughfare, has also been widened and modern buildings now line the whole of the west side of this street. These include a large indoor ice-skating rink known locally as SS 'Brighton', a handsome Odeon Cinema and the local head offices of several leading insurance companies. North Street has also been partly widened and contains the new Imperial Theatre opened in 1939 but now a cinema.

In the newly-constructed Aquarium, the Hippodrome, the Theatre Royal, the Regent, the Savoy, and the Astoria Cinemas, the two promenade piers with their own theatres, besides those already mentioned, Brighton is lavishly supplied with amusements.

Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed in Brighton in 1871 1881 1886 1887 1890.

 

Hove, with its fine wide avenues, large houses converted into flats, private hotels, and modern villa residences, is a combination of Belgravia and Kensington, and the new suburbs of Withdean, Tongdean, and Hollingbury, which are gradually creeping up the hillsides at the back of the town, remind one very much of the heights of Hampstead and Highgate.

The artisan suburb of Moulsecombe, built since the first World War by the Brighton Corporation, may be termed the Dagenham of London by the-sea. Here, and in the adjacent district of North Moulsecombe and in the Whitehawk Valley the Brighton Corporation has erected more than two thousand houses since 1919; a very creditable piece of work for a town of that size. Though Brighton was bombed during the second War, the damage inflicted was small by comparison with that suffered by other South Coast towns.

Brighton's rise to fame as a health resort was due to Dr Richard who brought the town into public notice in 1750, and to George IV, who came here when Prince of Wales, to visit his uncle the Duke of Cumberland, and afterwards built the Pavilion as a royal residence. The building was purchased by the Brighton Corporation in 1850 for £50,000 and is now largely used for entertainments and social functions. St Peter's Church, a handsome Gothic building situated in the Valley Gardens, was erected in 1827 and since 1873 has replaced that of St Nicholas as the parish church of Brighton. St Paul's Church in West Street, erected in 1847, has a tall stately-looking tower which forms a prominent landmark when viewed from the sea or from the jubilee Clock Tower in the centre of the town.

A portion of the sea front adjoining the Aquarium has been widened and both a new marine drive on the top of the cliffs and an Undercliff walk from Kemp Town to Rottingdean and Saltdean now incorporated into Greater Brighton have been constructed at a cost Of £350,000. There is also a new bathing-pool at Black Rock opposite Lewes Crescent and another at Rottingdean. This pleasant old-world village, now a ward of Greater Brighton, is situated in a valley of the Downs on the sea shore and here a delightful promenade has been constructed for pedestrians only. The ragged face of the chalk cliffs has been trimmed and protected at the base with solid blocks of concrete. Saltdean, another new seaside resort situated in a hollow on the confines of Greater Brighton, has been fashioned out of a wild stretch of downland. It has a promenade similar to that of Rottingdean and a tunnel under the South Coast Road which connects it with a lido and tennis courts on the other side. In the opposite direction much building has taken place of late years at Hove which now extends to Portslade.

As a legacy of the second World War the beautiful gardens of Brunswick Square, Adelaide Crescent, Palmeira Square and the private lawns on the sea front have been taken over by the Hove Corporation and are now open to the public. Having been left in a derelict condition after war-time occupation, doubtless the residents were not prepared to face the expense of restoring them to their original condition. On the sea front next to the coastguard station, a large new swimming bath and restaurant. erected in 1939 at a cost Of £150,000 by the Hove Corporation was requisitioned during the war by the Admiralty and became the King Alfred training ship for the Royal Navy. It was derequisitioned in 1946 and returned to the Corporation.

 

Worthing, ten miles from Brighton, has also become an outlying dormitory of London and has grown very rapidly since the electrification of the Southern Region Railway. It contains 67,940 inhabitants and is now practically linked with Brighton and Hove by Lancing, Shoreham, Southwick and Portslade which are all contiguous.

This indeed is London by-the-sea with a population of over three hundred thousand. Amongst the notable people who have honoured Brighton with their patronage are King George IV, King William IV and Queen Adelaide, Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort, King Edward V11, Dr Johnson, Mrs Siddons, Thackeray, Dickens, Henry Irving, Toole, Gladstone, Herbert Spencer, and Mr Bonar Law.

For an interesting and in depth look at Brighton I suggest a visit to My Brighton And Hove The site is created by a team of volunteers. Local people and site visitors suggest places to include in the site, and then they collect photos, history notes, memories, and interesting facts about those places. There are over 275 places featured on the site so far, plus virtual city tours created by local people.

Brighton & Hove film and cinema has a great deal of interesting material on Brighton's buildings of entertainment.

 

You may find the following pages from this site of interest: