Brighton and Hove Commemorates Antarctic Pioneer

Edward B


The City of Brighton and Hove is to commemorate Edward Bransfield R.N. (1785-1852), the navigator and explorer who discovered Antarctica in 1820, by erecting a Blue Plaque on his former home in Brighton.  The ceremony will take place at 11 Clifton Road on Thursday 30th January 11.30am for 11.45am 2020 to mark the 200th anniversary, to the day, of Bransfield’s pioneering discovery which began the celebrated era of Antarctic exploration and later featured Captain Robert Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton. Everyone welcome.

Edward Bransfield lived in Clifton Road from 1847 to early 1851 and later moved to 61 London Road where he died on October 30, 1852 at the age of 67. He is buried in the Extra-Mural Cemetery, Brighton.

The Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel has approved the Blue Plaque with the support of the Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee. The unveiling ceremony will be performed by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Alan Robins, with Rear Admiral Richard John Lippiett CB. CBE. DL in attendance.

Bransfield was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1785 and press-ganged into the Royal Navy in 1803 at the start of the Napoleonic Wars. Despite this modest start to his naval career, Bransfield rose through the ranks and became an accomplished Ship’s Master with special responsibility for navigation.

In 1819, while stationed in Valparaiso, Chile, Bransfield was ordered to investigate reports of uncharted islands seen by the merchant vessel, Williams. Under Bransfield’s command, Williams sailed alone into unknown waters and on January 30, 1820 made the first-ever sighting of the Antarctic mainland. The land forms part of the Antarctic Peninsula and was named Trinity Land. The waters he crossed now carry thousands of tourists to Antarctica and are known as the Bransfield Strait.

The Plaque Panel set up by Brighton & Hove City Council VisitBrighton in 2005 is the successor to schemes run originally by Brighton and Hove Corporations and the Regency Society. The first plaques in Brighton appeared in 1925 and the scheme is now believed one of the oldest initiatives for plaque installations in the world, apart from that in London.

The Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee is a voluntary group established to commemorate Bransfield and to erect a monument in his birthplace of Ballinacurra, Cork. After arranging support from international and Irish sources, the monument was unveiled on January 25, 2020.

University of Sussex – new West Slope Development

artist's impression

The University of Sussex has launched its consultation period for further expansion following its East Slope development.

Of concern to the Commission is that the West Slope development (artist’s impression above) will involve the demolition of several Basil Spence buildings forming the original curtilage of the 1961 university site.

These are York House, Kent House and Lancaster House.

The planning application is available here for comment.

An exhibition of the development will be available for public view at the Jubilee Library, Jubilee Street, Brighton: Saturday 25-Sunday 26 January and Saturday 1 February 10am-5pm (except on Sundays when library opens at 11am).

Risk to Conservation Areas of LED lighting

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Around the country heritage lamps (above) are being replaced by modern LED lamps (below), even in some Conservation Areas.

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This may save councils money (some decades after paying for the enormous initial outlay of replacing so many lamps at several thousand pounds each in some cases) as LED lights are said to last longer (not yet proven) and use less power, but it is disastrous for heritage as they are wholly unsympathetic in light and style (though occasionally LED bulbs are inserted into heritage lamp fittings with less than acceptable results).

Aside from the sheer ugliness of modern LED lamp posts, LED bulbs emit a harsh and dazzling blue-tinted light which has been associated with health issues including migraines and blamed for interrupting sleep patterns in various areas where they have been installed. There have even been protests against them in many European cities including Glasgow.

Certainly you wouldn’t want to find LED lights on any postcards, advertising or tourist brochures as they are deeply unflattering to the streetscapes around them, possessing all the ‘charm of a shower unit’ They could never replace architectural lighting either to showcase our greatest architectural gems.

Ultimately these lights need to go back to the drawing board until they can replicate the flattery of incandescent, halogen or soft sodium fittings which sit easily in heritage lamp standards as they are not fit for heritage or conservation area use. Nor can they be dimmed. Montpelier Road is a good example of how LED lights can destroy the look and special ambiance of a Conservation Area.

Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission is against the use of LED street lights in Brighton and Hove and were pleased to see the recent letter from Graham Chainey in the Brighton Argus (reproduced below).

We hope this ridiculous EU directive will be abandoned post-Brexit as it is no more appropriate to have this unpleasant lighting inside homes or restaurants, some of which also require heritage fittings and complementary bulb options.

LED lights letter

Brighton Black Rock – have your say

Black Rock Pool

It is just over forty years since Black Rock was graced by this rather attractive and fondly remembered open air pool.

Now there are plans afoot to ‘revitalise’ the site with something new.

Two dedicated drop-in sessions have been organised by the council, to view the proposals and find out more:


St George’s Church
St George’s Road


Function Room
Master Mariner
24 Marina Square, Waterfront
Brighton Marina

Remembrance Sunday – 10th November 2019

old steine

This year Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission will be laying wreaths at both events this Sunday,10th November, as follows:
Old Steyne War Memorial
Arrive 10.30am for 11.00am
Ald. Francis Tonks, BHHC President
Roger Amerena, BHHC Heritage Commissioner and Chairman
Hove War Memorial, Grand Avenue
Arrive 2.00pm for 2.10pm Laura King, BHHC Hon. Sec.
Everyone welcome to these commemorations.


Terrible Blow For Rottingdean’s Heritage


This week saw a terrible blow for Rottingdean’s heritage. Following strenuous efforts from SAFE  (St Albyn’s Fields Evergreen) in particular, the battle has been lost to save the stunning Grade II listed former St Aubyn’s School in the centre of the village (in itself a Conservation Area) from demolition and redevelopment.  The case went to judicial review.

It is now intended that this landmark building be replaced with 93 modern housing units.

To quote the Brighton Argus article:

‘The matter was brought before High Court Judge Sir Duncan Ouseley earlier this month, but all three claims were dismissed on October 8.

The judge recognised that the development “would cause clear harm to the setting of the Conservation Area” as it would reduce Rottingdean’s “green lung” – the area between the Conservation Area and the town itself.But he said the closure of the school in 2013 had left “substantial listed buildings, adjoining the High Street, in the Rottingdean Conservation Area, unused and unmaintained”.

This was part of his reason for approving the plans.

He also said the new development “would provide a very clear enhancement to the appearance and character of the conservation area over the existing ad-hoc collection of poor quality late 20th century buildings” and was “entirely sympathetic to the Conservation Area”.

A truly unbelievable conclusion. How on earth can these 93 boxes of ticky tacky in the middle of a historic village and former home of Kipling and Burne-Jones possibly be an ENHANCEMENT to the appearance and character of Rottingdean?

It is a substantial devaluing of this Conservation Area when a sympathetic flat conversion scheme (including retro-greening) could have easily been achieved. It is also a devaluing of the listings registry and Conservation Area scheme and could easily be used to set a dangerous precedent in the city.

Such a questionable verdict is certainly worthy of a complaint to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office

Have Your Say on Brighton and Hove Graffiti Scourge

We are unanimous at Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission that the current graffiti scourge is deeply damaging to the architecture and visual impact of the city and have previously covered the subject in a post here.

maderia terraces.

Brighton and Hove City Council have now set up a public graffiti removal enforcement consultation here. It is open until 15th December 2019 and we urge as many of you as possible to complete it with your views.

While the thrust is very much how to get businesses and property owners to pay for graffiti clear up, it seems somewhat unfair to penalise the victims of graffiti.

It is the criminals who commit it who should be held to account with the fines and community service they should be sentenced to used to put the damage to rights.

Any non-commissioned graffiti is criminal damage.

The Brighton Society is very much on the same page with its views on the graffiti scourge here.

New Hannington’s Lane

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While the loss of the 18th C Timpsons premises in North Street was a blow to the city’s heritage, the new Lane is of refreshingly higher quality and sensitivity than feared with the exception of one small brutalist modern unit which lets it down. Puget’s Cottage in particular is a triumph in its restoration, albeit not open yet

With high business rates and expensive parking. units have been slow to fill. Which calls into question the wisdom of the other proposed project to extend the Churchill shopping centre down to the seafront. Yes, the Brighton Centre is hideous and in need of replacement but with retail trends the way they are, it would make more sense to replace it with a prettier conference centre, preferably more sympathetic to Brighton’s Regency past, and prevent the inevitable vacuum of the shopping areas surrounding Churchill if the centre were to be expanded.

Suffragette City!


Almost enough plaques for a tourist trail – the latest plaque to celebrate suffragettes in Brighton was unveiled by MP Caroline Lucas in the Quadrant near the Clock tower last week to mark the site of the former Brighton Suffragette Office.

The plaque was met by enthusiastic reception from the large crowd, which included some indiviuals donned in suffragette dress. Latest TV and local press also attended.


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suffragette 1

Brighton General Hospital – last intact workhouse left in Britain

Brighton General Listed Building Curtilage Map-page-001Kitchener hospital Brighton workhouse Peter Higginbotham Beighton general 7 Brighton general 6 Brighton general 34 Brighton general 19 Brighton general 24 Brighton general 25
Brighton General Hospital 2 Brighton General building 2 Brighton general 35 Brighton general 13 Beighton general 7 Brighton general 17 Brighton general 10 Brighton General building 2


A small delegation of us decided to walk around the Brighton General Hospital site at the weekend in response to the plans to redevelop it (included are just some of the photographs we took above, along with some more historical images and a map).

Despite the overcast conditions, we found ourselves blown away by the sheer size of the site and wealth of buildings on it of historic interest, not just the one Grade II listed building (Arundel), but pretty well all of them outside a few unsympathetic 20th Century additions. The quality of many of the buildings and the curving stone walls is outstanding. Some buildings even retain the original Victorian bollards on the corners to protect them against carriage wheel collision.

Why on earth does the site need to be redeveloped? we found ourselves asking.  It would probably be possible to get a good 2000 flat conversions out of what is already standing, and much more characterful homes into the bargain, with the odd cottage or individual house for good measure.

Furthermore the site is already laid out in village-like configuration and already geared up for ‘mixed use living’ with industrial/work spaces, green spaces and car parking liberally dotted around with a network of roads connecting all. All that would be needed would perhaps be a convenience store and some community spaces. Many groups of buildings are already sensibly constructed around sheltered internal courtyards – presumably for former patients to recuperate and staff to have their breaks in. This would work equally well for parents seeking safe spaces for their children or adults seeking a sun trap out of the wind on Elm Grove hill. Moreover large picture windows offering light and space and high ceilings abound. One of the most common complaints regarding modern flats is the lack of light and space in many and the low ceilings.

If any new buildings were to be built (ie a proposed ‘heath hub’), it would be better to sacrifice a car park for the purpose than most of the existing buildings or gardens and green spaces.

Brighton General hospital is said to be the last intact workhouse in Britain. Moreover it was converted into Kitchener Indian Hospital during WWI and later officially became a municipal hospital in 1935 – joining the newly-formed  NHS in 1948. It is surely worthy of an imaginative and sensitive scheme which honours its history whilst making it fit for today’s standard of living.

Sadly the wonderful Nurse’s Home on the right hand side of the hospital has already been demolished in 2011 (a rather splendid 6-storey Edwardian building on the famous steps of which generations of Brighton nurses were photographed after qualifying – the Brighton General even issued its own nursing badge.) What has been built it in its place is not a pretty sight, commanding an undeserved hillside location with sweeping views to the sea with scores of somewhat brutalistic flats, which probably do not accommodate any more people when all is said and done, and certainly not affordably.

BHHC believe a sensitive conversion of this valuable historic site would not only be more appropriate heritage-wise but greener and considerably cheaper too. It is certainly the case that today’s new-builds are nowhere near of the same quality or appearance as the heritage which is all too often swept away to facilitate them, with many newbuilds not intended to last more than 50 years, making them little better than pre-fabs.

Do take the time to walk around the site yourselves and drink it in. It is well worth your time, and even more stunning on a sunny day!

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