Considered by many to be a city for the young, Brighton is also a city steeped in a proud and glorious past. Traditionally, Brighton has always attracted originality and innovation, from the entrepreneurs who generated Britain’s first electric railway to artisans who engineered the first pleasure promenade, the chain pier, Brighton began life as it meant to go on. Strolling through the city, Life takes you on a journey through the history of Brighton, through the patrons and patriots that make Brighton the vibrant and cosmopolitan city it is today.
Steve Ovett, Preston Park.
Opposite Preston road, stands the statue of Varndean grammar graduate Steve Ovett. Winning the 1980 Olympic gold and bronze, 1978 European Gold and 1986 Commonwealth Gold, Ovett’s career was a triumph over adversity. After losing the 1982 season, when he impaled his thigh on some church railings, Ovett collapsed at the 1984 800m final with bronchitis. Ovett was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year 1978 and was awarded the MBE in 1982 and OBE in 2000.
Queen Victoria, Southern enclosure, The Old Steine.
The listed marble statue of Queen Victoria was designed by Nicoli and presented by Sir John Baker. Standing parallel to George IV, it was sculpted for the occasion of her 1897 Diamond Jubilee and unveiled upon the opening of her gardens. Although Victoria often resided within the grounds of The Pavilion, the Queen never really took to Brighton, complaining that ‘the people are very indiscreet and troublesome here really, which makes the town quite like a prison.’
George IV, The Royal Pavilion.
To The North gate of the Pavilion stands the bronze statue of George IV, sculpted by Tate founder, Sir Francis Chantrey and erected in 1828. George IV became the patron of Brighton during the late eighteenth century, declaring himself ‘very delighted with this little town.’ Visiting the town first to relieve his swollen glands with sea-water, and to then, conduct his clandestine liaisons with the catholic Mrs Fitzherbert, the prince inaugurated his regency with plans for “The Pavilion.” Although George IV visited the town less after its completion in 1821, becoming annoyed by the ever-increasing crowds, he did much to ensure the city’s success.
War Memorial, North Steine.
At the northern end of The Steine is the Egyptian Campaign Memorial. A listed memorial, it was erected in 1888 in respect to The Royal Sussex Regiment of 1882, and the Nile River Expedition of 1884-5. Seeking help against invading Sudanese rebels, the British were ordered to relieve Gordon at Khartoum. The base simply states ‘Egypt’ and ‘Abu Klea’ after the battle fought in Sudan on 17th January 1885.
War Memorial, Northern Enclosure, The Steine.
The War memorial resides within the northern enclosure of The Steine. Designed by Sir John Simpson in the style of a Roman water garden, it was unveiled on 7th October 1922 by Admiral of the fleet, Earl Beatty. The pylons stand in memoriam to the 2600 Brightonians that died during the First World War.
Sir John Cordy Burrows, South Steine.
Towards the end of the Victorian fountain, stands the stone statue of three times elected mayor of Brighton, John Burrows. A distinguished surgeon, Cordy was elected as alderman to the first borough council, as advocate of Brighton’s charter of incorporation. Mason and magistrate, Burrows co-founded the Royal Literary and Scientific institution and co-financed the Victoria fountain. Burrows died in 1876, where it was estimated 25,000 people lined the streets of Brighton. The sculpture stands in testimony to Brighton’s continuing esteem.
Boer War Memorial, Regency Square.
Facing the West Pier, at the entrance to Regency Square, resides the Boer War Memorial. Unveiled on 29th October by the Marquess of Abergavenny the listed structure commemorates those lost at Louisberg and Quebec in 1759, the South African War 1899-1902, in Egypt in the 1880’s and in the two World Wars. A disheveled yet chivalrous bronze soldier stands with trumpet to commemorate those who fell.
Peace Statue, Hove Lawns.
Towards the end of Norfolk square, the boundary of Brighton and Hove is marked by the Peace Statue. Designed by Newbury Trent and unveiled by the Duke of Norfolk on 12 October 1912, the listed memorial stands over thirty feet tall. The statue of an angel of peace with orb and olive branch in hand, resides on a globe supported by four dolphins. The base bears a portrait of Edward VII, the two arms of the boroughs and the following inscription: ‘In the year 1912 the inhabitants of Brighton and Hove provided a home for the Queen’s Nurses and erected this monument in memory of Edward VII as a testimony of their enduring loyalty’.
Queen Victoria, Grand Avenue, Hove
Designed by Thomas Brock in 1897 the impressive bronze figure of Victoria stands surveying the English Channel. A proud reminder of our imperialist past, Victoria holds a sceptre and globe with a small winged Britannia/Victory on top. The four bronze friezes on the granite base represent Empire, Science and Art, Commerce and Education. Further up Grand Avenue stands Lutyens’ War Memorial, surmounted with a small black knight.
The Juggler, Hove Town Hall
Pedaling on a unicycle and juggling fire, The Juggler was created by Helen Collis, and presented by her husband Dr Martin Hildyard. Helen sadly died of cancer, August 1995 at the age of 57. It is a replica of a piece that won her the Sussex Arts Club Award for Visual Arts.