Suffragette City!

suffragette plaque 3

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.


suffragettes 4  suffragettes 5 suffragettes 6

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!

Brighton general 15

Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission – AGM on Saturday 1st September

Preston Manor 1 St Peter's Church Preston

The 5th AGM of Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission will take place on Saturday 1st September 2018 at 2pm in St Peter’s Chuch, just behind Preston Manor  (please arrive around 1.45pm to ensure a seat).

The AGM includes a presentation by guest speaker Henry Vivian-Neal – on Kensal Green Cemetery and its link with Brighton resident Joseph Rogers. Henry is a Trustee of The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery and the author of books and articles about the Cemetery

Hazel Tapsell will then briefly speak on the history of St Peter’s.

The meeting will be followed by refreshments in the Servants’ Kitchen of Preston Manor (free to BHCC members – £5 per person to non-members). Optional tours of the Manor at local resident rate of £5 per person will also be available.

Please download invitation BHHC AGM 1st Sept 2018 and RSVP if coming.We look forward to seeing you there.

Have Your Say on Brighton and Hove City Plan Part 2

cityplan picture


As publicised in Brighton Argus this week, consultations have opened for Brighton and Hove City Plan Part 2, Please stand up for the retention of heritage, consideration of streetscape and provision of green spaces.

The dangers of ‘low cost’ housing are 1. It seldom exists. 2. It is often an excuse to build shoddy characterless boxes only designed to last around 50 years, which add nothing to our stunning location between the Downs and the Sea.

Consultation notes and portal here.  Ends 13th September 2018, so please ensure your comments are in BEFORE this date!

Happy 110th Birthday Hove Library! – Sunday 8th July 2018

hove Library copy

On Sunday 8th July it will be 110 years since Grade II listed Hove Library (gift to the city from Andrew Carnegie) opened. on 8th July 1908.
At 3pm, Hove Writers will be leading a street celebration outside (cake and cordial) on Church Road to celebrate. Short readings, poems and quotes in celebration of Libraries – musicians and celebrities also welcome!
Everyone invited including children.
Dress code: Bright colours (or Edwardian costume if you have one)
A few will go to the Connaught pub afterwards for a drink, but library lovers wanted to honour Andrew Carnegie (a teetotaller) in the street celebration.
Please attend and show your love and appreciation for this jewel in Hove’s crown.
Hove Carnegie Library is much loved and much used, yet has suffered many threats over the years so Hove Writers thought it would be nice to do something positive with this celebration and show public appreciation. If you would like to contribute a reading or piece, please email to let them know.
Facebook invitation here
Those were the days when philanthropists donated whole public buildings to the community. And what good value for money this handsome listed building (on land also donated) has proven for 110 years.  Thank you Mr Carnegie. Here’s to the next 110 years! Full history here.

Ovingdean Green Festival – Saturday 23rd June 2018


Ovingdean is hosting its first Green Festival on Greenways/Ovingdean Road. There will be stalls, activities and speakers all concerning local ecology, heritage and environmental sustainability.

Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission will be holding a stall there. Martin Foster of BHCC will also be in the church illustrating the historic details.

12 noon – 5.00pm. All welcome.

Facebook page here

Travel: The Big Lemon bus service runs from :Brighton station at  1123 1323   1523 and arrives at the corner of Greenways/Ainsworth avenue at the corner of Greenways  1152, 1352, 1552.
 The return journey  leaves Ovingdean but only to the Royal Sussex County at 12.25,13.25, 14.25  15.30 with a service to Brighton station leaving at 16.30.
In addition to link in with  the buses that regularly travel along the sea front and stop at the St Dunstans stop ie mainly the 52 and 57,  there will be a shuttle bus parked in the bus stop area on Greenways between the hours of 12 noon and 4pm which will take passengers from the coast road to the bottom of Ainsworth avenue. The ride is free but if you would like to make a donation to the Stroke Association  in the bus that would be most welcome

Save Brighton General Hospital buildings!

Brighton General Hospital 2 Brighton General Hospital

One of the last remaining workhouses in Britain, erected in 1865, Brighton General Hospital sits atop the hill of Elm Grove. It is currently at risk of either full or semi-demolition to fund development of a shiny new ‘health hub’, or worse still, a bland housing development of several hundred units undeserving of a hillside position.

If you wish to save it as a hospital, please complete NHS survey here. Choose option 1 or 2 to see it restored or refurbished (the cheapest and greenest option as well as the most noble). It is not after all a shiny new facility which delivers good health care, but having sufficient doctors, nurses, equipment, building maintenance and nursing care. I am sure we have all visited someone in a shiny new PFI hospital where the level of care and attention is actually poorer than it was in the original hospital, often because there is less money left in the pot for actual patient care. In addition most hospitals have closed their nurses’ home or sold it off to developers when they used to provide affordable onsite accommodation for key worker nurses.

History of Brighton General Hospital documented here.

If Brighton General is to be lost as a hospital, the existing building would make a handsome flat conversion and would be much more affordable than a newbuild. In addition, there is more local demand for flats than houses.

Here is an example of a similar project involving a former London workhouse dating from 1770s which inspired Dicken’s Oliver Twist.

A previous plan for a new school seems to have been discarded but some have suggested that turning Brighton General Hospital back to its original purpose, but as a 21st century style ‘workhouse’ (aka rehabilitation centre/hostel), could be an innovative and very welcome alternative to the growing problem of street homelessness in the city.  Certainly Emmaus have previously expressed an interest in obtaining a city centre HQ/complex, and they provide full service and support for the vulnerable, getting them back into society, work and housing.