Conservation Advisory Group – Response to Old Town Consultation by Roger Amerena


Brighton Old Town Conservation Area
Draft Consultation
Conservation Advisory Group
Suggested comments on five questions set out on the
BHCC consultation portal.

By Roger Amerena

1 Do you have any comments to make on the summary of the area’s historic
development? Has anything important been omitted?
2 Do you agree with the general assessment of what factors make up the
special interest of the Old Town conservation area, in terms of its character
and appearance?
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
1 Do you have any comments to make on the summary of the area’s historic
development? Has anything important been omitted?
2 Do you agree with the general assessment of what factors make up the
special interest of the Old Town conservation area, in terms of its character
and appearance?
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
1 Do you have any comments to make on the summary of the area’s historic
development? Has anything important been omitted?
2 Do you agree with the general assessment of what factors make up the
special interest of the Old Town conservation area, in terms of its character
and appearance?
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character

2 Do you agree with the general assessment of what factors make up the
special interest of the Old Town conservation area, in terms of its character
and appearance?
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
Roger Amerena
Important Views
To be illustrated in the OTCA document
a. East Street north to Castle Square
b. East Street south from Castle Square
c. North Street from Castle Square
d. West Street south from the Clock Tower
e. West Street north from South Street
f. Ship Street south from North Street
g. Prince Albert Street from junction with Ship Street
h. Prince Albert Street west from the middle of the east section
i. Black Lion Street north to Lane End House
j. All views of the Town Hall
k. Middle Street looking north from South Street
l. Ship Street north from the Old Ship Hotel
m. East Street north from seafront
n. Market Street north from Town Hall
o. Seafront promenades
p. Seascape from Palace Pier.
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
6. Character Areas
6.1 The assessment of the four sub areas would be correct though we would add that
there ought to be a proposal to include the south and west side of the Old Steyne of those
groups of buildings which abut the OT and are of pre C19th dates. Including Marlborough
House, The Royal York Buildings, Pool Passage Pool Valley and the Royal Albion site.
A general comment on the style of presentation is that there is too much reference
to present names of buildings rather than their street numbering. A CAS should have
longevity which will not occur over time with business changes. Though landmark buildings
should be named as such.
There is also a general feeling that the creator of the CAS has taken much from text books
and not walked and understood the area, also an architect’s view not a conservationist’s
view, we feel the document is very incomplete. This is very evident as many historic lanes
and parts of the public domain are not mentioned;
a. Wenlock House closed passage on North Street
b. Lewis’s Buildings thoroughfare with its historic original C17th cobbled and paviored
gullies and gutters
c. Duke Street Yard, untouched since C18th including its unusual timber framed Grade
ll house no.37a Duke Street.
d. Duke Court
e. Duke Passage
f. Unlisted C17th 41 Middle Street with its fascinating passage approach
g. South Street
h. Ship Street Court
i. Poplar Place
j. Clarence Yard
k. C17th passage between 10 and 11 East Street through to Little East Street
l. Passage in front of and extensively behind Nos 36 and 37 East Street.
m. Closed C17th passage behind No.4 Little East Street
n. Pool Passage
The use of the word “Twitten” be it from Sussex has never been used for the small
passages and lanes in the Old Town. Citation, yes in Patcham and Rottingdean, and
elsewhere in the city in the changed farmland areas. But in the Old Town the term should
be “Passage” and / or “Lane”.

Roger Amerena
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
6.3 An omission is that on its west there is a break from the designated building line
creating a wider part, which is visually pleasing. An indication of the older part of the street.
6.5 Rounded should read “segmental”
6.6 The synagogue now disused Grade ll* considered the second most important one
in Europe was Thomas Lainson’s best work.
6.7 The Paganini Room connects to the Regency Room similar, particularly the
ceiling, to Crunden’s C18th Castle Inn Ball Room now moved and rebuilt in Montpelier
6.8 Nos. 4-6 a mock Tudor reproduction coaching inn of 1933 replacing the New Ship
Inn of the 1630s.
6.12 Dominating fig which together with tamarisk were the only form of vegetation in the
town at the beginning of the C19th. Traditional close paviors are used to clad this passage.
6.14 Although refronted with tripartite segmental bayed widows in 1824, it dates…
6.15 Original paviors have been replaced with concrete slab paving.
6.16 The view north from the Town Hall towards the towers of the Chapel Royal and
Hanningtons is an important street view. Nos 11,12 and13 are C17th buildings with the
mid Sussex red tile hung roofs typical of the Lanes of that period.
6.17 This caused the loss of the 1790’s theatre though No.32 respects the height and
setback of that original building
6.20 As it passes the open space of the Friend’s Meeting House , it is fronted unusually
for this area by single storey shops with restructure 1980’s bold details, but opposite is
Lane End House Grade ll, considered the most attractive C18th building in the OT.
6.21 Reference to bow windows should be replaced with “tripartite segmental bay
windows on the upper floors”.
6.25 The extreme east end of Kings Road and Pool Valley formed the only east west
seafront road prior to Grand Junction Road being built in 1829.
6.26 Which is thought to be the eastern side of the ancient open area called the Knab.
The Lanes.
6.27/ 28 Traditionally paved with closely laid paviors.
The Seafront
6.36 The iconic railings with their teak hand rails were installed together the lamp
standards in the 1880’s by Lockwood, the Borough Surveyor. All cast by Every’s of Lewes.
The 1980’s reproduction reinstated horse and carriage guard railing also a feature
6.37 The beach itself is a major factor even with its pebbles which exist even to low tide.
6.40 the frontage dates from the C19th apart from the 1950’s east addition
6.41 This locally listed building with its cream glazed tiled façade,
North Street and West Street
6.42 and the east side dominated by St Paul’s Church Grade ll * Any future development
opposite should respect with importance of this building, although outside the OTCA
6.47 Further to the north west is Dyke Road, formerly the route via Steyning to London

Roger Amerena
There is now modern evidence of street tree planting. Hitherto these did not exist
in the Old Town, as it was surrounded by sheep down
Street signage is predominately of the alloy signs affixed from the 1940’s onwards
when the cast iron framed porcelain signs were replaced. The last survivor is Poplar
Place. Hannington Lane will soon have these reproduction 1860’s style signs
Presently there are almost twenty different mediums of paving in the OTCA. Traditional
paving to the area should be paviors closely laid with no grout. Originals
seen next to Puget’s cottage which would have come from St John’s Common.
Lamp standards are mainly of BLEECO form installed at electrification as from the
1930’s with their characteristic swan necked fitting. The period Windsor lights are
modern. Originally the gas lamp standards were made by Reed of North Road with
a cradle and Camberwell lamp fitted to their tops. See St Georges Church and the
Royal Pavilion estate.
Curb stones
Presently a variety, but early ones of Purbeck Granite can be seen, later clean cut
Perthshire granite is predominant but can be seen in Ship Street north and in East
Roof Tiling
The vernacular until the railway arrived in 1841 was for red tile hang roofs and
westerly facing exposed walls. Then slate appeared.


Carve Their Names With Pride! – a series of events to celebrate Brighton’s WWII Secret Agent Heroes



From left to right; Captain Michael Trotobus, Captain Ronald Taylor, Captain Edward Zeff, Lt Jacqueline Nearne,

There’s still time to join The Secret WW2 Learning Network and its partners at
11am on Saturday 12th November 2016 at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
for the official ‘grand reveal’ of four blue plaques in memory of four Brighton-born WW2 secret agents of the Special Operations Executive (SOE)

This very special commemorative day will have the theme

Carve Their Names With Pride
and the programme will continue during the afternoon with a unique book & film get-together

for everyone who’s been inspired by WW2’s ‘secret warriors’ – with talks by special guests,

book signings and short films – plus a bookshop by CITY BOOKS and a café

Admission to this all day event at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange will be FREE, but by invitation only and limited places are still available

Please email your request asap to:



Brighton’s secret agents: the research that led to the four blue plaques, plus a book and so much more

Friday 11th November – The Keep, Falmer

13.30 – 15.00: Researching the Lives of Our Agents

This workshop-style presentation will guide participants through the process of discovering and uncovering the lives of those who participated in the secret war – with archivist Andrew Bennett demonstrating the use of The Keep’s archive resources, plus Martyn Cox of The Secret WW2 Learning Network and University of Sussex historian Dr Chris Warne exploring the value of oral testimony (including interviews held as part of the Archive of Resistance Testimony at the Keep) for assessing the wider significance of the secret war.

15.30 – 17.00: Who Do We Think They Were?

Military historian Paul McCue will present an insight into the lives of four WW2 secret agents each born in Brighton, tracing their contrasting roles and experiences while aiding resistance in occupied Europe. Paul’s presentation will be followed by Q&A and the launch of his new book BRIGHTON’S SECRET AGENTS – published to coincide with this unique Brighton & Hove initiative.

​Entry to this event is FREE but please email EVENTS to book. 

Tuesday 15th November, The Old Court Room, 118 Church Street, Brighton

LINDELL’S LIST: Saving British & American Women at Ravensbrück 

14.30 Peter Hore

Already a decorated heroine of the First World War, British-born Mary Lindell, Comtesse de Milleville, was one of the most colourful and courageous agents of the Second World War, yet her story has almost been forgotten.

Evoking the spirit of Edith Cavell, and taking the German occupation of Paris in 1940 as a personal affront, she led an escape line for patriotic Frenchmen wanting to join the Free French and for British soldiers left behind after Dunkirk. She would later set up an escape line for Blondie Hasler, leader of the ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ and for downed Allied aircrew, and in April 1945, when a score of British and American women emerged from Ravensbrück concentration camp, known as the Women’s Hell, they had been kept alive by the willpower and the strength of character of one fellow prisoner, Mary Lindell.

Poignantly supported by first-hand testimony, Lindell’s List tells the moving story Mary Lindell’s heroic leadership and of the endurance of a group of women who defied the Nazis in the Second World War.

Peter Hore is the author of several biographies and for the last dozen years a freelance obituarist at the Daily Telegraph. He served a full career in the Royal Navy, spent nine years in the film and TV industry, and is now a full-time writer, editor and journalist.


Examining some of the myths and legends surrounding SOE’s history

​15.30 – MARK SEAMAN

Mark Seaman is an historian specialising in intelligence and special operations. He joined the Imperial War Museum in 1980 and was responsible for projects including the exhibition ‘European Resistance to Nazi Germany, 1939-1945’, the ‘Secret War’ permanent gallery and an international conference on the Special Operations Executive.

His published work includes ‘Bravest of the Brave’ (a biography of the SOE agent ‘Tommy Yeo-Thomas), ‘Operation Foxley; the British plan to kill Hitler’ and ‘Special Operations Executive; A new instrument of war’.  He has featured frequently in the written and broadcast media including acting as adviser to television and film projects. In 2015 he was awarded an MBE for services to the history of espionage.

16.30: Refreshment break

16.45: Panel – SECRET WW2: Myths, facts & fiction –

With at least four published biographers and one fiction writer in the room, not to mention one of them also being a leading literary agent, this promises to be a lively and informative session especially when discussiing how well (or poorly) the publishing industry handles SOE and intelligence projects; but this should also be well worth attending for anyone with a more general interest in writing, including ‘how to get published’.

Books by the speakers will be on sale (Event ends at 18.00)

Please note that ANDREW LOWNIE will be giving a separate talk at 19.00 on Guy Burgess

Tickets for this daytime event are £7.00 each, Please email EVENTS to book and press DONATE to pay

STALIN’S ENGLISHMAN  Tuesday 15th November 19.00 at The Old Courtroom, 118 Church Street, Brighton

by Andrew Lownie

This unique series of Tuesday talks will continue at 7pm with Andrew Lownie,  who believes Guy Burgess  was the most important, complex and fascinating of ‘The Cambridge Spies’ – Maclean, Philby, Blunt – all brilliant young men recruited in the 1930s to betray their country to the Soviet Union.

An engaging and charming companion to many, an unappealing, utterly ruthless manipulator to others, Burgess rose through academia, the BBC, the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6, gaining access to thousands of highly sensitive secret documents which he passed to his Russian handlers.

In this first full biography, Andrew has shown how even Burgess’s chaotic personal life of drunken philandering did nothing to stop his penetration and betrayal of the British Intelligence Service. Even when he was under suspicion, the fabled charm which had enabled many close personal relationships with influential Establishment figures (including Winston Churchill) prevented his exposure as a spy for many years.

Through interviews with more than a hundred people who knew Burgess personally, many of whom have never spoken about him before, and the discovery of hitherto secret files, Stalin’s Englishman brilliantly unravels the many lives of Guy Burgess in all their intriguing, chilling, colourful, tragi-comic wonder.

Andrew Lownie was born in 1961 and was educated in Britain and America. He read history at Magdalene College, Cambridge where he was President of the Union. After a period as a bookseller and journalist, he began his publishing career as the graduate trainee at Hodder & Stoughton. In 1985 became an agent at John Farquharson, now part of Curtis Brown, and the following year became the then youngest director in British publishing when he was appointed a director.

Since 1984 he has written and reviewed for a range of newspapers and magazines, including The Times, Spectator and Guardian; and as an author himself, most notably of a biography of John Buchan and a literary companion to Edinburgh, he has an understanding of the issues and problems affecting writers.

Andrew is a member of the Association of Authors’ Agents and Society of Authors and was until recently the literary agent to the international writers’ organisation PEN. In 1998 he founded The Biographers Club, a monthly dining society for biographers and those involved in promoting biography, and The Biographers’ Club Prize which supports first-time biographers.

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Brighton and Hove – major developments

We inhabit worrying times where major developments are being forced through without full local consultation, and often with little benefit to the local community save for the temporary construction jobs. It is worth keeping an eye on planning applications and commenting wherever possible and encouraging friends and associates to do the same. Make no mistake. Greater Brighton and the Mega Blocks are coming along and the character of our great city has never been at greater risk.

preston-barracks-2 preston-barracks-development

Preston Barracks – proposal to redevelop as mixed use development (planning records here) *Recommended for saving by Brighton and Hove City Council in 2011 paper, complete demolition now being allowed.

astoria-brighton astoria-plans

Astoria proposal for demolition for  73 flats (planning records here) *Note: the Astoria is Grade II listed.

anston-house anston-house-megablock

Anston House – proposed redevelopment into 231 flats with Megablock proposal (planning records here)


King Alfred Leisure Centre (formerly WWII Land ship used for training 22,500 men and women for the Navy) proposed redevelopment (planning records here) for 560 flats with a leisure centre. A dangerous precedent for seafront development if it happens.

Moshimo Mash-up


Japanese-restaurant Moshimo has submitted new plans for a major £4 million expansion at their existing Brighton premises in Bartholomew Square in the form of new concrete box in the sky according to the Brighton Argus.

Extraordinary as this seems (how many restaurants, after all, have a spare £4m to spend on an extension, and how do they intend to recoup this investment?), this is worrying on two counts:

A: It is completely inappropriate in style and scale for Brighton and will be obtrusive and visible from many vantage points.

B: If approved it would set a disastrous precedent for other brutalist planning applications to get the green light (and increasing numbers seem to be joining the planning application pipeline).

We urge all heritage lovers who feel as we do to oppose this planning application here

We concede that Bartholomew Square is not the prettiest and has already been largely ruined, but this addition will not help and will infringe on the rest of the city.

Nor can this project be regarded as ‘progress’ as it is simply harking back to the 1960s love affair with concrete and box shapes.

Brighton is predominantly a ‘Regency’ city in style.  New developments should respect this and be sensitive and appropriate.

We allow our civic character and identity (not to mention USP) to be destroyed at our peril.

Brunswick Festival 2016

BHHC stall 2016 (1)
Averil Older, Roger Amerena and Val Brown

Brunswick Festival

Despite a squall or two BHHC enjoyed a wonderful weekend at Brunswick Festival with lots of heritage lovers stopping for a chat and to ask about joining.

It is fitting that the Festival is held in this wonderful Regency Square every August (this being its 35th year) as this is a splendid example of a heritage area which was threatened with demolition but saved by people power in the 1940s for posterity to enjoy.

Harriot Mellon – blue plaque unveiling, Friday 12th August 2016

Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission were proud to be part of this wonderful event.

As reported in the Brighton Argus:

A BLUE plaque in memory of Regency society beauty Harriot Mellon, who married a man old enough to be her grandfather and another young enough to be her son, was unveiled in Brighton yesterday by her descendant, the Duke of St Albans.

In a speech watched by civic dignitaries, the 14th Duke of St Albans caused laughter when he declared Harriot his “favourite duchess” – with the obvious exception of his wife, the Duchess of St Albans, who was standing next to him.

He then unveiled the plaque on the wall of The Regency restaurant on the corner of Regency Square and the King’s Road. It reads: Actress Harriot Mellon Duchess of St Albans and Brighton socialite stayed here 1830-37.
He said: “I’m honoured to have this plaque in her memory. She was a remarkable woman who deserves to be remembered with admiration.

“She was my favourite duchess because she was such a character – in fact, she would have been considered quite vulgar by some people.

“She felt more at home in Brighton – Brighton people took to her more than other places. She was such a generous character and that is always a special quality. That is what I liked about her.”

In a welcome speech at the ceremony, Councillor Mo Marsh, the city’s deputy mayor, said: “The plaque is to remember a particular individual who added so much life to her adopted home.

“She was a woman who made her mark by taking the opportunities she had, and Brighton and Hove has reason to be grateful to this strong woman.”

Roger Amerena, of the Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel, told the audience that the plaque replaces an old Brighton Corporation one that had become difficult to read. Emilio and Rovertos Savvides, the owners of The Regency restaurant, funded the plaque.

Also at the ceremony were members of the Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel, Hugh Macpherson of the Royal Stuart Society, past mayors of Brighton and Hove including Lynda Hyde, Brian Fitch and Francis Tonks, and representatives from The Friends of Regency Square, Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission and Regency Square Area Society.

 Photos of event at The News Co here and at Brighton Bits here


BEAUTIFUL and vivacious, flamboyant and compassionate, the life of Harriot Mellon was extraordinary even for Regency times.

Born in 1777 as the illegitimate daughter of strolling players – travelling theatre groups then considered to be in the lowest depths of society – she followed her parents into acting, making her debut at the age of 10.

She was talent-spotted by the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who was “impressed by her rosy-cheeked good looks and acting ability”, and he secured her a season at the Drury Lane Theatre in London.

She was successful, known for her comic abilities and was understudy to great actresses of the time including Dorothea Jordan and Sarah Siddons, often praised for her professionalism and good humour.

Her best known role was as Volante in The Honey Moon in 1805, the year before a portrait of her was painted by the painter Charles Turner was published. She was also painted by Sir William Beechey in 1815.

It was during her career on stage that she caught the eye of Thomas Coutts, who had founded the bank Coutts and Co, now famously patronised by the royal family.

He was married to Elizabeth Starkey, with whom he and had three daughters but Harriot became his mistress and when his wife died in 1815, they were married – when he was 80 and she was 35.

Their marriage was held in secret to avoid the wrath of his daughters and when he finally told them, they were furious. During their marriage he had to protect her from his daughters’ anger – yet the couple were happily married until he died in 1822.

Thomas left her his entire estate, including his 50 per cent stake in Coutts and Co, making her the richest woman in Europe with a fortune of millions of pounds.

She ran the bank and promoted Thomas’ confidential clerk Andrew Dickie to partner, while trying to placate Thomas’s three daughters by giving them an allowance of £10,000 each a year. Sadly, it did not warm them to her.

During her widowhood, she held parties at her houses in Piccadilly and Highgate and spent time at her house in Regency Square in Brighton.

In 1827, she scandalised society by marrying William Beauclerk, the 9th Duke of St Albans, who was 23 years her junior and “something of a fool and a booby”, according to the book Lady Unknown by Edna Healey. He wooed Harriot for two years – he wanted her money and she wanted his title.

Her “old and true friend” Sir Walter Scott wrote to congratulate her on her marriage and she replied: “What a strange, eventful life has mine been, from a poor little player child, with just food and clothes to cover me, dependent on a very precarious profession, without talent or a friend in the world – first the wife of the best, the most perfect being that ever breathed and now the wife of a duke. You must write my life my true history written by the author of Waverley.”

However, as a result of the marriage, she became the subject of cartoon caricature in “a series of attacks which were carried on for years with a malicious persistence difficult to parallel”, according to her biographer Charles Pearce.

She was depicted as a “stout female of bulging endowments” like melons, and also with moustache and whiskers.

During her marriage, Harriot began to develop a close friendship with Angela Burdett, the youngest of Thomas’s grandchildren, inviting her to balls and dinners at her Brighton house and hawking parties on the Downs.

She saw how Harriot gave gifts to the starving people of Ireland and she travelled with her, Harriot like a princess with coaches and wagons, couriers and servants and always a casket of love letters from her first husband Thomas.

Her health began to break down in 1836 and she died a year later in London, leaving her husband an allowance of £10,000 a year.

during his lifetime and the use of her two properties in London.

The bulk of her estate, worth around £1.8 million, went to Angela, who was required to change her surname to Burdett-Coutts but was excluded from partnership in the bank. With the money, Angela became one of the greatest philanthropists of the Victorian age.