Traffic problems in Brighton and Hove

Brighton sea front, probably in the early 1950s,
The Omnibus Society
Demob happy
Wilson Avenue
A 1940s postcard of the Brighton Sea Front
Mike Perry

The war had been over for about a year and at one of the statutory Council meetings the problem of traffic was the main topic and worthy of deep discussion. The local council was already facing a major problem with housing. With the military now demobbed after the war the town faced a serious lack of housing.

Many married couple were forced to live with their parents and in-laws and the future looked very bleak.

Arguments within the town council raged back and forth in regards the type and the numbers of housing that would or could be achieved over the next twelve months.

Now, the topic was changing to the traffic problems as more and more cars began to make the roads very busy within the town area.

Together with other local authorities throughout the country car parking was a big issue and Brighton’s first post war summer has brought the problem to the fore.

The motorcars along the seafront were a pretty welcome sight for many people after the desolation and impedimenta of war. However, motorcars bring danger to children and adults are liable to run across the road, not being used to so much traffic.

The need for some solution was felt now and with the release of more petrol and the resuscitation of the motor trade, which together with the popularity that Brighton, as a seaside resort should soon enjoy once again would certainly enhance these problems.

 

Coaches

It was anticipated that for next summer hundreds of coaches would visit the town as well as coaches starting from Brighton and the council needed to be able to handle the proposed busy times.

One of ideas under discussion was an underground coach park under the Aquarium. It was not desirable to have coaches unloading at the eastern end of the town giving total inconvenience to the visitors. The idea of the aquarium coach park was turned down a few years before the war started. The council at this time was divided and the result being that the offer was turned down.

A more ambitious scheme under consideration was the covering in of part or the whole of Madeira Drive as a massive car and coach park. The suggestion being that the roof would thus form a magnificent promenade with floral gardens and a bandstand. The scheme also included suntrap shelters and tea gardens. The council discussed this idea but in the end it was cast aside as being unworkable.

The urgency of the council was to put ‘safety first’ as the first principle and not to have motorcars parked on the seafront and in the streets throughout the town. It was then pointed out that Brighton was hardly well endowed with private houses and boasting of their own garages.  It was generally felt that visitors would want to park close to their accommodation and that would mean car parks close to the seafront area.

The traffic question

The urgency and importance of the traffic question as a whole was emphasised in a memorandum, which the British Road Federation, Ltd issued for the guidance, and information of local authorities and other interested parties. The Federation suggest that every Highway Authority should appoint a parking committee, on which the police as well as committees concerned with planning the construction of roads and buildings and the provision of passengers transport should be represented.

The council generally agreed with the provisions as set out and agreed that more details will be announced at the next meeting.

The local Council had, in their opinion serious traffic problems within the boundaries of Brighton and Hove, what has changed?

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David Rowland has just launched his 15th and final book, “The Spirit of Winsome Winn II”, all about the B-17 Flying Fortress which crashed at Patcham after being hit by anti-aircraft fire over Germany.

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