Embarrassment of Riches
The city has a rich heritage. It's almost traditional to say so, but it's true. However, some bits of its heritage are better cared for than others. We have magnificent Regency squares and terraces, historic parks bequeathed to or bought by the locals councils on behalf of the people and for their enjoyment. We have one living and thriving Brighton (formerly, Palace) Pier. Another pier (the West Pier) has been the subject of controversy for several decades, and now having failed to rise from its ashes, may nonetheless give birth to a structure of historic importance for the city - namely, the i-360 observation tower. We have Preston Manor, West Blatchington Windmill, Foredown Tower, and the Regency Town House - all of which we will cover in time. And, of course, the Royal Pavilion and its estate. And, yet more, we have many fine churches, some in better condition than others.
We also have the British Engineerium in Hove, and the recent history of that museum is a revealing insight into how the city neglects its industrial heritage.
Let's remember that with the arrival of the railway in 1841 came not just a constant stream of passengers from London and further afield, but a railway industry. Brighton became a centre of railway engineering, and on the back of that there grew up a general light engineering industry which played an important part in the city's economy and wider social life until the 1980s when the national trend of 'deindustrialisation' decimated engineering in the conurbation. Today little remains of it and only around 4% of the working population are employed in engineering.
Look around the city and there is little sign of its passing, and little attempt to remember it, except at the British Engineerium in Hove. So the news early this year that the museum had closed because of financial problems was depressing. The good news is that on May 10, the day when the unique collection of engineering models and machinery were to be auctioned off, the late intervention of a private buyer who bought the entire collection has given the museum another chance of survival. Read the full story here.