All Saints Hospital, Eastbourne – a heritage conversion success

Visiting Eastbourne with a heritage colleague recently we were struck by the stunning conversion of All Saints Convalescent Hospital in the Meads area just below the cliffs.

Erected in 1869 by architect Henry Woodyer in high gothic style, All Saints Hospital was the vision of Harriet Brownlow Byron, Mother Foundress of the Community of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, to provide the first purpose-built seaside convalescent hospital in Great Britain. The All Saints Sisters tended their patients and establised a philosophy of care which continued for over a century.

This former Grade II listed hospital is contained in around 10 acres of grounds, not unlike the Brighton General Hospital in size and scale, and was cleverly converted after its closure as a hospital in 2004 by Berkeley Homes.

Without obvious compromise to the historical integrity of the exterior, Berkeley managed to fit in additional floors and still ensure that all residents had their share of large windows and high ceilings. Sensitive additional units were discreetly and almost seamlessly inserted in the gaps with a range of handsome garages by the gate house, which may or may not have originally comprised a stable block, as far as the untrained eye is concerned.

We spoke to a couple of residents there, one of whom had lived there for around ten years and they couldn’t have been happier. They said there was a real community feel to the place.

There are 105 housing units in all with the chapel separately owned and maintained as a special event venue and community space for hire.

What a wonderful example of what can be done with a former hospital!

Let Brighton & Hove City Council take note when Brighton General Hospital site becomes available.

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Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission to apply for Conservation Area status for Brighton General Hospital

Brighton General Hospital

Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission has been in high level discussions with Brighton & Hove City Council concerning its proposal for the historic Brighton General Hospital site to be designated as the city’s 35th Conservation Area. The reasons are many. It is the last almost complete “workhouse complex” left in the country, the Kitchener Indian Hospital from 1916-20 where hundreds of wounded sepoys were nursed and then the Brighton Municipal Hospital, and has been a landmark across the city for 154 years.

Backing for the idea has proved unanimous from the many local amenity groups that have so far replied to the presentation. They include the Regency Society, Hove Civic Society, Brunswick Town Association, North Laine Community Association, Ovingdean Residents Presevation Soc, and Rottingdean Preservation Soc.  This enables the proposal to be put forward for public consultation. Save Brighton General Action Group has also been positive.
Details of that presentation are below;
The site is the last virtually intact Workhouse complex left in the country, occupying a large acreage at the top of Elm Grove. The first buildings were opened in 1867 (area 1 on the attached plan) finishing before 1900 (area 2 on the attached plan). Although the Arundel Building was listed Grade II in 1999 the rest of the buildings were not. However they do have a very important “group value” for the site. See attached annotation plan. The proposed CA would be Area 1 (amber) and Area 2 (pea green) on the attached BHCC Listed Building Curtilage Map dated 10/01/2007. Area 3 (blue) would be excluded as SCFT plans indicate the northern part of this area will be the site of the new Health Hub.
Not only is there architectural value to these buildings where local vernacular materials were used, but the not listed buildings’ past uses were very specific, such as the Lunatic block, and Asylum Wings, and the Bread Token house. Moreover, the site has an unequalled social history. A workhouse, then in 1916 the Kitchener Indian Hospital for hundreds of wounded Sepoys, Subedars were placed at the Pavilion and Dome. Then in 1920 it reverted back to the workhouse, in 1934 the Brighton Municipal Hospital (run by Brighton Corporation) and finally it became the NHS hospital in about 1950.
The palatial listed Arundel Building does not give the true picture of what life was really like in the workhouse, other buildings do that.
At present technically all could be demolished without needing permission other than the listed building. I have met with Lucie Carayon the director of Ancient Monuments Society. I have also had discussions with Historic England while on their recent visit to Brighton, who share our concerns that more of the site is not protected.
Discussions have also taken place about the consideration of more buildings being listed, particularly for five others not including the historic flint walls and the Lodge. However my view is that this action would impinge on any proposals for the site’s ideal conversion into low cost housing, thus the formation of a Conservation Area will allow for much greater flexibility for plans for conversion but also protect the site in the meanwhile. A CA would allow for greater examination about what could be retained for conversion and what could be demolished, with a view to allowing sympathetic new build on areas such as on part of the present large car parks.But still maintaining some open spaces. The mathematics of major demolition and rebuild will not result in low cost affordable housing
The site’s designation as a Conservation Area does not mean the buildings are preserved but are protected, subject to demolition consent being granted. This procedure forms the legal part of the planning process for development in a conservation area.
The key is, that once designated as a CA, demolition consent is necessary for any structure within that area, whereas at present no permission is needed for demolition. Even the historic flint walls are technically not protected though some believe they are deemed to be in the curtilage of the listed building.
A similar situation occurred with the Royal Alex in 2005 when I started that campaign .The 1881 Lainson building was not listed but in a CA thus demolition consent was needed. The developer wished to remove all buildings on the site.The outcome was that demolition consent was refused for the main building but the group of buildings at its rear, after in-depth discussions with the community, were given permission to be demolished.
I would cite another example with which I was involved being a member of  CAG. The Carlton Hill Conservation Area. This was the last designated CA in the city in 2008. With the threat of the new Amex development subsuming the Mighell Street farmhouse and even seeing its demolition, together with the Thwaites Garage site adjacent ear marked for offices, there was a need to create a CA to give a greater control over what could be done in the 1 1/2 acre area which included Tilbury Place. The result was that the farmhouse was secured and on the garage site next door there has recently been completed a very sensible housing development, The application came to CAG in many forms but the result, which is now satisfactory, respects the setting of the listed farmhouse’s position within the CA and adheres to CAG’s request to reinstate the historic flint wall on Carlton Hill. The result would have been much more difficult to achieve if this area had not been designated as a Conservation Area.
On Tuesday 5th May I presented the proposal to CAG at its monthly meeting. The result, I am pleased to say, was a unanimous support for the initiative. The city’s amenity groups have been written to, and amongst those the Regency Society, Rottingdean, Ovingdean, Kemp Town Society North Laine, Brunswick Town, Montpelier and Clifton Hill and Hove Civic have already given their agreement to the idea, with others yet to reply. Membership structures are different in each group but of the mentioned collection of societies we calculate they represent some nine to ten thousand people.
Thus,we have an excellent opportunity of satisfying the needs of the community as well as securing the city’s built and social heritage for future generations.
Roger V. Amerena
Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission
Joint Chairman
Brighton & Hove City Council Conservation Advisory Group

Repair to Madeira Drive 1870s

Madeira Road 1872 -77Madeira Road Drawing (reverse)

Madeira Road, Brighton, looking east. Drawing by H.S. Hine

Circa 1872-1877

In the collection of (and by permission of) R.V.Amerena Esq.

This is a fascinating view of workman repairing the wooden guard rail along Marine Parade from suspended scaffolding with a swooping seagull beneath.
The Victorians did not often record tradesmen at work, particularly for a guard rail repair, so this drawing is rare.
The artist Hine was sat at a spot immediately beneath 127 and 128 Marine Parade. Madeira Road was constructed and named as such in 1872 which ran along a new sea wall, after the Aquarium was built, to Duke’s Mound then up to Marine Parade. Duke’s Mound was named after His Grace the 6th Duke of Devonshire who was at 1 Lewes Crescent for thirty years until 1858.
As there is no evidence of Lockwood’s Madeira Terrace structure of the 1890’s in the drawing, and also no record of the Paston Place Groyne, known as the Banjo Groyne, built in 1877, this view then has to be drawn by Hine between 1872 and 1877.
The Great Sea Wall was constructed between 1830 – 38, with the wooden guard rail the whole length of Marine Parade at its top. The present iconic iron railings with dolphin motifs also designed by the borough surveyor Philip Lockwood replaced that wooden structure from 1880.

Save Brighton General Hospital! – the story so far

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With thanks to Bill Hunt of TopDog PR for his excellent blog post detailing the story so far.

There are MANY discussions and debates still to be had before the future of this unique site is decided. It is only the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust who appear to be in a hurry to get Brighton General Hospital sold off out of public ownership and at the highest price.

Brighton and Hove Commemorates Antarctic Pioneer

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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.

Led light 2

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 and Rome.

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 LED 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. A range of LED bulbs are said to be available but they are certainly not being procured for street lights if so. In fact we have only found examples intended for indoor domestic use.

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.

It also turns out that long life bulbs have been possible, almost from the start of bulb manufacture. There has been a deliberate world cartel since 1924 to ensure built in obsolescence, a practice which continues today, irrespective of environmental concerns.

Petition against LED streetlights in Brighton and Hove here. Please sign.

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