Following his stage production of Richard III in 1944, English actor, Laurence Olivier, proclaimed: “There is a phrase: ‘the sweet smell of success’. And I can only tell you, I’ve only ever had two experiences of that and it smells like Brighton and oyster bars and things like that.”
And wasn’t he right. Brighton is a success. From its electric and energetic lifestyle, to its hedonistic ways and certain London sophistication that its acquired over the years, Brighton as a city is booming. It’s colourful, it’s vibrant and it’s ‘green’ - becoming the world’s first planned ‘One Planet City’ a few years ago. Brighton is the only place in Britain where you will rub shoulders with celebrities, drag queens, business people and hippies all within the same vicinity. Alongside its bohemian roots, it has a touch of gentrification about it as it splits off into various village-style communities - this of course has not come at a price; many have said that the transformation of Brighton over the years has pushed many of the artistic souls away from their home town due to property prices and increased costs (Brighton property prices rose by 9% in mid-2017 equating to £29k). However, you have a city for all tastes and as a seaside destination, its been thriving for years.
HAVE YOU TRIED…
The Brighton Zip? At 300 metre long, it’s the longest zip wire on the South coast that can reach impressive speeds, offering a 24 metre drop for an extra free fall experience.
Private members’ club Soho House (pictured above), which boasts eateries, bars, hotels, farmhouse getaways and even cinemas in their portfolio, is set to arrive in Brighton. With works planned to start this year, the celebrity hotspot will set up home at Aquarium Terraces on Madeira Drive, where guests can expect to enjoy a new members’ club, an open air plunge pool and new sun deck. Boasting views across the sea, Soho House’s exclusive arrival will certainly breathe a new kind of life into the eastern side of the seafront and with tourism at the heart of the city, this exciting new addition will add yet another string to Brighton’s bow.
The Ivy in the Lanes
Opening this spring, London stalwart The Ivy, is coming to Brighton - Ship Street to be precise. The Ivy has been a celebrity haunt for more than 100 years, serving up British cuisine and classic cocktails all set against the backdrop of glamour and decadence. The Ivy in the Lanes will offer guests a modern dining experience set within beautiful plush surroundings.
Brighton’s reputation as the UK’s capital of LGBT is certainly a status the city’s residents are proud of. First taking place in 1973 as a small affair, Brighton Pride has raised approximately £410,000 for the local LGBT community groups over recent years, and welcomes over 400,000 people to the city with an estimated £18million boost to the city’s economy. Celebrated in August every year, Brighton Pride is a glittering three day affair, the biggest event in the city’s calendar and welcomes a host of sensational performers, musicians and artists. The main event sees a carnival style parade through the streets of Brighton; with no holds barred. There’s even a Pride dog show, a campsite and Pride Pleasure Gardens where dancing bears and disco bunnies are the norm.
VETERAN CAR RUN
With eccentricity at its heart, the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is the world’s longest running motoring event. The first run was in 1896 and has taken place most years since, with a revival in 1927. In order to qualify, cars must have been built before 1905. The original run marked the passing into law of the Locomotives on the Highway Act which raised the speed limit from 4mph to 14mph, however this was reduced to 12mph before the act came into force. At the start line, you’ll usually find a group of people dressed in period costume, ceremoniously waving a red flag on the banks of the Serpentine in Hyde Park to start the run - participants will finish on Madeira Drive, Brighton. The next run takes place on Sunday 4th November 2018.
THE ROYAL PAVILION
It was the glitzy Oriental party pad for George, Prince of Wales, who became the Prince Regent in 1811; and described by Queen Victoria as ‘a strange, odd Chinese place’. The Royal Pavilion - or Brighton Pavilion as it is known - with its Indian turrets, eye-popping cake-like domes, intricate detailing and Chinese neo-classical interior, attracts over 1.2 million visitors to the city per year. Standing proud on the Steine, it forms part of Brighton’s heritage along with a bold nod towards the city’s eccentricity.
It was said that Brighton had become fashionable through the residence of George’s uncle, Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland, whose taste for cuisine, gaming, theatre and fast living was shared with the young prince George. And as a result of this royal hedonistic lifestyle, the Pavilion was born. It was George’s seaside retreat where he could be truly indulgent - he purchased land surrounding the property on which a grand Indian-style riding school and stables to house 60 horses was built and which subsequently dwarfed the main residence itself. The palace was also a way for him and his lover, Brighton’s original cougar, Mrs Fitzherbert, to enjoy liaisons together in privacy.
Moving on to the 20th century, during World War 2, it was reported that Hitler instructed his army not to bomb the Pavilion as he wanted the palace to be his seaside home…
THE MODS AND ROCKERS
So called the Battle of Brighton, 50 years ago the nation was shocked by the violence of the notorious Brighton brawl that took place between the mods and the rockers. Over the May and August bank holidays, the gangs swept across the South coast causing chaos amongst these quiet seaside towns. The press and the ‘establishment’ soon cottoned onto this new wave of violence, blaming the ‘youth culture of today’ and creating moral panic; but some say that these ‘gangs’ were no different then mere football hooligans. The events of that summer of 1964 inspired The Who’s Pete Townsend to write his rock opera Quadrophenia, which was later made into a film in 1979. Many scenes are filmed in Brighton including the narrow alley just off East Street where Jimmy finally manages to get his wicked way with Steph. Every year in Brighton, the mods make their ceremonial trip to their ‘spiritual home’ of Brighton for their big reunion. The Mod Weekender sees scores of mods on their Vespas and Lambrettas ride into the city and park up on Madeira Drive.
What happened to the West Pier?
Its become one of the most photographed landmarks in Brighton, but perhaps not for the right reasons. In March 2003, the West Pier Pavilion was victim to an arson attack which completely destroyed this part of the pier. A few months later, the Concert Hall (already destroyed by a storm the previous year), was victim to yet another arson attack, of which the burnt out remains were removed due to safety reasons. What remains today is a skeleton of the Pavilion, now beyond repair. It’s hard to imagine that the beautiful bones of this structure once played host to the ballet, pantomimes, the pier’s resident orchestra, military bands, tea dances and a fun fair. However, more recently, an area dedicated to the heritage of the West Pier has been created on the boardwalk, where 24 cast-iron columns, originally part of the substructure of the pier, and called The Golden Spiral, stand as light installations, illuminating the area around the West Pier.
DON’T MISS… Brighton Festival
One of Europe’s leading multi-arts festival taking place on 4th May - 3rd June 2018.
A celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events, Brighton Festival takes place in various venues across the city during the month of May, and highlights the city’s distinct and cultural atmosphere.
BLACK ROCK WATERFRONT
Hailed as one of the largest development projects in the city’s history, Black Rock’s Waterfront is a regeneration project which would see the current Brighton Centre, along with the cinema complex next door, demolished and redeveloped with a larger replacement conference centre and world-class entertainment venue built at Black Rock. Plans also include the redevelopment of the Brighton Centre site, including extending Churchill Square Shopping Centre.
Black Rock is currently an undeveloped site located near Brighton Marina, previously the site of an old swimming pool, which has been derelict for over 30 years. With £12million of government funding awarded to the project last February, the £540million planned project is still at an ‘early stage’ due to it being a ‘long-term project and large scale site’. With remaining funding needed, legalities to be agreed with all parties involved and of course, development plans approved, is Black Rocks’ Waterfront really just a drop in the ocean?
Once a military installation formally owned by the Ministry of Defence and designed to accommodate artillery and cavalry units, Preston Barracks’ regeneration project is a £150million scheme set to radically transform Brighton and further establish the University of Brighton. Under the working title of Momentum: Lewes Road, the scheme was given an unanimous approval at planning committee back in September 2017. The scheme is one of the biggest developments in Brighton in recent decades and covers the regeneration of three adjacent sites along Lewes Road, including Preston Barracks and the current car parks of the University of Brighton’s Watts House and Mithras House. The £300m scheme is expected to bring in a total of £500m international investment to the city’s economy over 10 years. Key features that the developer U+I will evolve include 369 new homes, incorporating affordable housing, and 1,338 purpose built student bedrooms in managed halls of residence, alongside a new home for the University’s Business School, dubbed the ‘Central Research Laboratory’.
THE BRIGHTON MARINA ‘SKYSCRAPER’
With a vow to improve Brighton’s seafront with investments totalling over £1billion, the Brighton Marina development is currently in Phase II. The Brighton Marina scheme accounts for £250million of that sum and will provide 853 flats, retail, commercial and community spaces and the development of 11 luxury towers ranging from 6 to 40 storeys high. The 40-storey Dubai-esque tower, dubbed the ‘roaring forties’, will provide panoramic seafront views from its top-floor viewing gallery.
Phase I of the development created an additional 300 jobs for the local area and Phase II is expected to create even more. Construction will soon begin on the foundations for the 40 storey tower as well as the two adjacent nine and six storey blocks. Works will also include the demolishment of the concrete multi-storey carpark, in favour of more appealing underground parking.
A ‘NEW LANE’ IN THE LANES
Once known as the ‘Harrods of Brighton’, the former site of Hanningtons department store - The Hanningtons Estate - is set to be transformed into a new retail and leisure destination. The Hanningtons Lane project is set to redevelop buildings at the end of North Street, creating a new shopping lane from a previously unused access road as well as new retail and leisure outlets, and residential units. This high-end regeneration project sees the area being returned to its former glory, revealing Brighton’s oldest building, Pugets Cottage, as part of the transformation.
With much controversy surrounding it, the King Alfred project has finally got the green light. A competition was originally held to design a mix-use development site to include residential units and a leisure centre. Won by world-famous Frank Ghery Partners (work includes the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA), the winning entry - which stirred up much controversy about how it would fit in with the rest of Hove - was subsequently ‘canned’ due to funding issues. A further extensive competition process was then held back in 2016, from which winners Crest Nicholson in partnership with Starr Trust were chosen.
The proposed sports centre, which will cost around £40million, will include two swimming pools, sports hall, gymnastics centre, indoor bowls hall, martial arts dojo, eight badminton courts, a cafe, a creche, and a 200 space car park. The site will also include 560 flats.
A £15.2million government grant was announced in February - the second highest in the country - aimed at kickstarting major housing projects where financial viability is in question. But there is a long way to go… with a completion date being put back from 2019 to 2023, will this long-suffering opportunity ever get its new lease of life?
Labelled as a ‘new social, cultural and economic quarter’, Circus Street, Brighton is currently under construction, and is believed will bring more than £200million of income into the city over the next ten years and create more than 600 jobs. The former municipal fruit and vegetable market, which has been left derelict for years, will be transformed into a new landmark public building, The Dance Space, and will include a theatre and various studios. Flexible office space and workshop space for artists and local independent businesses will also be included along with managed accommodation for up to 450 students, restaurants, boutiques and a new ‘green’ public square.
One development that really has changed the face of Brighton and the ‘view’ forever is the Rampion Wind Farm. Eight miles offshore, 116 turbines, 80 metres tall, dominate the landscape; many have come to accept these new arrivals that have popped up along the horizon over the last year or so, many have not. With all 116 turbines now in full swing, Rampion is one of the biggest wind farms in the UK and will provide enough sustainable energy to supply almost 347,000 homes.