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Herbert Carden

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The historian, Timothy Carder, has called Sir Herbert Carden (1867 - 1941) "perhaps the greatest figure in Brighton's civic history since incorporation". Praise indeed.

Surprisingly Carden stood for the council in 1895 as a socialist, six years before the Labour Party was established. Within 8 years he was an alderman, and he served as mayor for 3 years from 1916.

Carden was a patrician socialist from an old Brighton family, and a wealthy solicitor.

He was an strong advocate of municipal enterprise or municipal socialism at a time when all parties could see the value of it. He was the political force behind municipal telephone and tramway systems.

But his greatest legacy is perhaps the city's downland landholding. which today stands at around 14,000 acres. Carden believed that the Downs should be preserved both for the residents' enjoyment and to protect the city's water supply, and this became a settled policy. He used his own money to buy land when it was available and resold it to the council at no profit.

In this way the Devil's Dyke estate of 190 acres was acquired in 1928. Today it belongs to the National Trust.

At a time when the Royal Pavilion is a Grade 1 listed building, a very successful heritage tourist attraction, when special protection for it during time of war is sought under terms of the 1954 Hague Convention, it might be hard to believe that Herbert Carden believed it should demolished at part of a general redevelopment of the seafront.

However, Carden was not alone. Many thought the Pavilion an aristocratic folly, reflecting the decadence of its first owner and resident, the Prince Regent.

The Little Guide to Sussex (1900) described it as "architecturally contemptible".

Carden lived at 103 Marine Parade, where you can see a memorial plaque.

 

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