A Corner of Hove

Having lunch with an old friend in George Street is always a pleasure.  My bus turns off Church Road next to Hove Town Hall so I usually get off there and walk the short distance that’s left.

The Juggler, by Helen Collis, Hove Town Hall

The Juggler, by Helen Collis

Standing 9 feet tall, the sculpture of a juggler on a unicycle in front of the Town Hall was sadly the last work of the local artist, Helen Collis, who died of cancer in August 1995.

Hove Town Hall Hove Town Hall

 

George Street is a very busy shopping area, particularly full of cafés and charity shops -making it a very popular place for meeting up with friends!  With a nearby supermarket-owned car park, free for a 2-hour stop, and the street itself pedestrian-only, it’s rarely as empty as this around midday.

George Street, Hove, looking south

Looking South …

George Street, Hove, looking north

… and looking North

 

 

 

 

 

 

My bus stop back to Brighton, on Church Road again, is outside the rather lovely building of St Andrew – known as the Old Church to separate it from another of the same name now in Hove.  And for those who can read the time on the church clock and who remember the poem by Rupert Brooke:

“Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?”

St Andrew (Old Church) Hove

St Andrew (Old Church)

 

The Level – Now (March 2015)

In the autumn of 2013, the Level gradually re-opened following its £2.3 million refurbishment, funded by the National Lottery.

The Level March 2015 004

The 8.5 acre park, which had originally opened in 1822 now offers a large new skate park, pétanque and boccia areas, table-tennis and chess tables, picnic tables and grassed play areas, and the Velo Cafe with its green, living roof and cycling-friendly theme.  The grassed area at the northern end of the park is fairly unchanged except for a few more benches around the perimeter.

The Level March 2015 008
The Level March 2015 003The Level March 2015 014The Level March 2015 012The Level March 2015 006The Level, BrightonCentral path, The Level

The Level, east side

The Level – Then (2003)

Children's Playground

Paddling Pool

This was The Level in the winter of 2003. After the hurricane of 1987, which destroyed many of the huge old elm trees which surrounded it, the council had planted many new trees and work was done to improve the children’s playground. There had been a couple of skate ramps there for a few years, but work was done to extend this and it became a very popular area for both teenagers and younger children.

Between the two fake bridges was a paddling pool, and there were two separate playgrounds with swings and climbing frames – one of them fenced off for smaller children.  North of the playgrounds was the green grassed area, used for travelling fairs and other activities – including dog-walking.

Playground entranceSkatePark2North end of The Level

Then in 2013 work funded by the National Lottery was completed on a whole new playground. The old paddling pool went but in its place came a large new skate park, pétanque and boccia areas, table-tennis and chess tables, picnic tables and grassed play areas, and the Velo Cafe with its green, living roof and cycling-friendly theme.

Brighton’s West Pier – A Short History

Designed by Eugenius Birch and built in 1863-66 in the reign of Queen Victoria, the West Pier was Brighton’s second pier. The Chain Pier, built in 1823, was Brighton’s first but a storm in 1896 destroyed what little was left of it by then.

Using cast iron threaded columns which were screwed into the sea bed, strengthened with girders and ties to provide the required support for the decking above, the pier was orginally built with two toll houses at the land side, with twin kiosks in the centre and a ladies’ and a gentlemen’s retiring room at the sea end. In the 1870s the middle section of the pier was widened to house a covered bandstand, and in the 1880s further work was done adding a pavilion at the far end, weather screens for the whole of the pier and a landing stage for steamships. R W Peregrine Birch, the grandson of the original architect, oversaw the final building work which included bathing accommodation.

In 1901, the landing stage was enlarged, and in 1903 the pavilion was converted into a 1,000 seat theatre. Then, during the First World War, the covered bandstand was demolished and, having widened the pier again, an 8-sided oval-shaped concert hall to seat 1400 people was built around a frame of iron arches. This was completed in 1916 and apart from a new top-deck entrance which was added in 1932 no further major alterations were ever done.

In the early 1960s the West Pier was used in the making of the (1963) film Oh! What a Lovely War, and also in the 1970s film Carry On Girls.

West Pier

The West Pier was closed to the public in 1975 needing much repair before it could be considered safe, but nothing was done and finally it was badly damaged by storms in the winter of 2002/3.

West Pier

Then, in March and May 2003 serious fires, at least one of which was possibly caused deliberately by arsonists, destroyed much of what was left. In 2004 and again in 2014 further heavy storms caused more damage, leaving the little that remains today in 2015.

West Pier

West Pier, 2015

West Pier, 2015

It’s one of only two Grade 1 listed piers in the UK.