Modern Brighton 1934.
Modern day Brighton may be considered under 3 headings.
In the first place the wonderful promenade has been widened, with improved lighting and some beautiful sunken gardens at the western end of the town.
Secondly a lot of attention has been paid to pulling down many of the old and dilapidated properties in the older part of the town. This allowed these old streets to be widened and the Council being able to build some modern buildings, which makes the town look a lot more modern.
We can mention a few of the well known buildings which have been built, buildings such as Boots in Western Road (where Argos and MacDonalds now stand.)
And the Co-Operative Stores in London Road, a lovely and popular shopping area. A third building that comes to mind is Electricity House in Castle Square (The RBS bank now occupies this spot.)
Around this time a number of dangerous corners have been ‘rounded off’ making them less dangerous. The consequence of all this is that visitors returning after an absence of a few years would hardly recognise the town.
Finally, the boundaries of the town have been greatly extended and now includes another area of some 12,565 acres. The population is now 145,000.
To those who like statistics, the rateable value is £1,500,000, while the rates are 8s.2d in the £. The Electricity is supplied by the Corporation at 4d a unit for domestic services but for an all purpose service, the cost is half of one penny a unit. The unlimited water supply which is also a Corporation undertaking cost just 9d in the £. This Department, with certainly praiseworthy foresight, has established on the Downs behind the Town, some pumping stations. These tap into an almost inexhaustible supply of chalk filtered water. This is more than enough to meet any demand made upon it. Finally, the Gas is supplied by a Company who are keen competitors of the Electricity Department, at a charge of 9d a therm.
The Brighton seafront border stretches from the Peace statue on the Brighton and Hove border right through to the eastern boundary of Saltdean. This is a distance of five and a half miles. From the Aquarium to the Pylons on the main London Road, it is a distance of about five miles.
Included in the extended Borough are the villages of Patcham, Ovingdean and Rottingdean. Patcham has a beautiful church, partly Norman with its chief point of interest being ‘The Doom,’ (13th Century.) There are also monuments to the Shelleys and Stapleys. At the bottom of the Hill is Patcham Place which dates back to 1565. This is now the property of Brighton Corporation. In the early days it belonged to Anthony Stapley, a signatory on the death warrant of Charles 1st. The grounds of this wonderful house are now a public park.
To the North of the village of Patcham stands ‘the Chattri’ this is a monument in memory of the Indian soldiers who died in Brighton during the war.
In Ovingdean stands a Saxon Church, this has a number of very interesting points. For example it has a decorated Chancel screen, a low side window, and ‘herring bone’ work. Also in the village stands Ovingdean Grange, the reputed scene of many exciting incidents in Harrison Ainsworth’s novel. Local tradition strongly supports the claim that Charles II took refuge at the Grange.
Rottingdean also has a very interesting Church which is classed as ‘mainly English.’ Here you can see windows by Sir Edward Bourne-Jones, Norman work in both the ‘nave and Baptistery,’ and a Priest’s door.
In the Churchyard are buried Bourne-Jones and William Black. The studio of the former may be seen in the village. There is also the early home of Rudyard Kipling.
If you are travelling to Ovingdean or Rottingdean, you may wish to use the new ‘Undercliff Walk’, which is reached by Volk’s Electric Railway which runs along the seaside now. When the whole of this work has been completed the cost of it will be £500,000.
Brighton originally possessed two old Churches, one being St. Nicholas which is situated on a hill west of the Pavilion and St. Peter’s at Preston. In the former you may see an ancient Font, a mediaeval screen, a monument to Wellington. There is also a memorial tablet to Dr. Johnson. In the churchyard are the graves of Captain Tettereall, Phoebe Hessell and the local famous Martha Gunn.
Preston old Church is a well-preserved example of 13th Century work. This is remarkable for its ‘Frescoes’. This church now forms the centre of a beautiful scene, when it is viewed from the north of Preston Park, which has recently been cleared of some obstructive shrubs. The Manor House at Preston, which adjoins the church, has recently been bequeathed to the town by Sir Charles Thomas-Stanford. (Stanford Avenue was named after him.) It is reputed to have been a residence of ‘Anne of Cleeves’. It is now a museum which attracts many visitors.
The Local Council have embarked on the building of two large estates, one on the Lewes Road at Moulescombe and the other at Whitehawk, which is situated north of Kemp Town in a large hollow of the Downs. Other smaller estates are also being built; these are at Withdean, Patcham, Bevendean, Woodingdean and at Saltdean.
Brighton owns 10,000 acres of Downland just north of the main town. This land includes two prehistoric Hill Forts; one of these is at Whitehawk and another at Hollingbury. (These have both been described in a previous article.) The Devil’s Dyke, also a Hill Fort, probably about 300 B.C. also belongs to the local council.
In addition to all this land the beautiful Downland village of Telscombe, north-east of Rottingdean, has recently been bequeathed by Squire Gorham to the Corporation of Brighton.
Within a radius of five miles of Old Steine there are 8 golf courses, all having wonderful views of the sea as well as the Downs.
The Corporation has many plans to build or remodel the various fine amenities that Brighton already has. Take for example, The Dome. There are plans to alter this fine facility to improve it as a grand concert hall. At Withdean a huge sum of some £25,000 is to be spent in laying our tennis courts, when these have been built they will be the next best thing to Wimbledon.
Meanwhile in the older part of Brighton, the street widening plans are to be carried on, the first one being West Street. In this vicinity a magnificent sea-water swimming pool is to be erected. The Corporation say that it will be the finest in the Kingdom. The Corporation is contributing the sum of £40,000 towards the cost.
Later, it is said, the Town Hall site is to be cleared, and a new Civic Hall will be built.
This will be worthy of the up and coming new facilities the town will offer.
This will mean that the market will be moved to another site. Thus, everything points to continued progress within the Town boundaries. It is the Corporation’s wish that Brighton will be the finest Town in this country, and it will not be allowed to stagnate. Greater Brighton too seems destined to be seen as a place worthy of being called ‘Queen of Watering Places.’
Written and researched by David Rowland (OCPM.) with the assistance of The N.U.T. Conference Souvenir book of 1934 by T. W. Gardner.