South of the border

IMG_4541IN 1903 Brighton Corporation began the long process of widening Western Road when it bought the front gardens of several houses on the north side, all in the block between Montpelier Road and Hampton Place, writes Mick Hamer.

At the time Western Road was barely 24 feet wide for much of its length—very little wider than the side streets that run into Western Road, such as Dean Street and Spring Street.

It took more than 30 years to widen Western Road. The last piece of the jigsaw fell into place when Mitre House opened in 1935. The corporation had succeeded in widening the road carriageway to at least 36 feet, so that it could take three or even four lanes of modern motor traffic.

The result of this widening was the loss of some historic Regency and early Victorian buildings, similar to those on the south side of Western Road, which was not affected by the widening. But these lost buildings  were replaced by some fine art deco buildings, which despite more modern shop fitting at street level are still remarkably intact above the ground floor. Continue reading

When England played cricket on Montpelier Crescent

IMG_4620SEPTEMBER in 1843 was extremely hot, writes Mick Hamer. Or as The Times rather quaintly put it, there was an unusual “elevation of the temperature”, as the mercury climbed to reach 86 °F in the capital. But the heatwave came to an abrupt end on 25 September.

It was the end of the season in more ways than one. For it was the last time that top-class cricket was played on Lillywhite’s grounds. Not long after the three-day match ended on 27 September the developers moved in and started building the houses in Montpelier Crescent (see photo).

The final match was between the gentlemen of Sussex–a team of well-heeled amateur cricketers–and the professional players of Sussex, led by the county’s veteran bowler William Lillywhite, one of the most famous cricketers of the age. Not only was the cricket field named after him but he was also the father of John Lillywhite who is generally thought to have founded the London sportswear firm.

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Shopping therapy

The ever-popular local historian Janet Pennington will be giving a talk on the history of the small shop immediately after our AGM on Thursday 30th May in the library of the Brighton and Hove High School, Montpelier Road, Brighton. For more details about our AGM, including the 2012-13 annual report see our events section.

Come along and discover how the story of the corner shop and local shopping parades fits in with today’s retail revolution.

Seven Dials elm saved

elm IMG_4268THE majestic elm tree that has graced Vernon Terrace for 130 years is to stay after the council’s transport committee agreed to make minor changes to the Seven Dials improvement scheme at its meeting on 30 April.

The future of the elm tree was not included in the original consultation on the Seven Dials’ improvement scheme. But in January the council’s transport committee approved a plan for the improving the junction that included felling the 130-year old elm. Most local residents, and at least some of the councillors on the transport committee, were unaware that the scheme affected the elm.

Most local residents only found out about the plan to chop the elm when the council distributed a schedule of works towards the end of February. Continue reading

Spring Meeting

We invite you to the Spring Meeting of the Association which will be held at 7:00 pm on Friday 8th March in the Wagner Vicarage Temple Gardens, by kind permission of Brighton and Hove High School. Dr Sue Berry will give an illustrated talk “Amon and Amon Henry Wilds of Lewes and Brighton: the work of two surveyor-architects in the city 1817 to 1850”

Seven Dials consultation

The council is holding a public meeting on 17th December to discuss the results of the consultation on its plans for changing the traffic flow at the Seven Dials.

The main feature of the £500,000-plan is to increase the size of the central roundabout, so that there is only one lane of traffic. Currently, the small central roundabout allows two or more vehicles to take the roundabout side by side.

The council also plans to remove the guard rails that corral pedestrians and to replace the pelican crossings, with zebra crossings. The most controversial feature of one option is to close Vernon Terrace to north bound traffic, which would inevitably divert traffic onto neighbouring routes, such as Windlesham Gardens and Clifton Road.

The meeting is being held on Monday 17th December at St Luke’s Church, Old Shoreham Rd. It starts at 7pm and is due to close at 8.30pm. “If you have an interest in the project I would strongly encourage you to attend,” says Robin Reed the council’s traffic engineer in charge of the scheme.

Ice Rink Site

Wykeham Terrace adjacent to the Ice Rink site

Lawyers have sent two letters to the Council on behalf of residents and local groups following the Council’s granting of planning permission for the tall six storey hotel on the site of the former ice rink on the southern boundary of the churchyard.

For those not already aware, the Planning Committee was branded by the press as a ‘shambles’ with members confused; the first vote to refuse permission being retaken once campaigners had left, officers misdirecting members during the voting and underplaying important information in the officer report and presentation.

The officer report and presentation made no mention of the churchyard being an important local park and relied on the developer’s view that the need to chop back important ancient elm trees was of little significance. All of which sets a very dangerous precedent for both future Brighton & Hove applications and national planning policy. Continue reading

Radical art

Carol Jacobi, one of Tate Britain’s senior curators and an expert on the pre-Raphaelite movement, is giving a talk at St Michael’s on Saturday 6th October. Ms Jacobi was one of the organisers of Tate Britain’s latest exhibition Pre-Raphaelites-Victorian Avant-Garde, which opened in London in September.

The talk is part of the Friends of St Michael’s continuing fund-raising efforts. The Friends are raising money to carry out urgently needed work to stabilise the stained glass windows which are one of the glories of our only Grade-1 listed building.

The lecture is at 3.00pm on Saturday 6th October. Admission is £10 and includes tea and cake.

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Seven Dials Improvement

The City Council has set aside £550,000 to be spent over the next three years on the Seven Dials roundabout and the roads nearby. The main purpose of this spending is to reduce the number of road accidents. Improvements to the appearance of the roundabout seem to be incidental to the project which is being managed by a transport planner although an urban design officer also attended the first consultation meeting held in St Luke’s church on the 20th August.

It must be hoped that some of this money will be made available to enhance the visual appearance of this busy and cosmopolitan part of the city.

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Seven Dials consultation

The council is holding a consultation with local organisations over its plans to reduce the number of accidents at the Seven Dials roundabout.

Carol Dyhouse, who is committee member, is representing the MCHA’s interests. One of our key concerns is not to see an increase in traffic on Dyke Road the eastern border of the conservation area and the road that runs past the Royal Alexandra Quarter development.

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