City By The Sea And the Downs
Royal Pavilion Renovation
Brighton is bound by the sea to the south and the South Downs immediately
to its north. Most of the open countryside behind Brighton has in recent
years been designated as part of the new, not-quite-yet-created South
Downs National Park.
The price the 250,000 or so residents of the city pay
for such close proximity both to the sea and to scenic downland is to
have a high population density and high
rent and property prices to match.
'The City by the Sea' is a popular phrase, originally coined as part
of a successful promotional campaign by the local council. The phrase
has taken root and is used by many both in the city and without. (In
2002 the phrase became the title of a Holywood movie starring Robert
De Niro! Was that a steal?)
Brighton is actually a two-town city, which is unique
in Britain, though not unknown elsewhere. Budapest, for example, is the
name of the city created in 1873 by the merger of Buda and Pest, two
towns on either side of the Danube. The Hungarians settled the naming
issue at the time the city was created, but here we are left with the
cumbersome mouthful of 'Brighton & Hove'. In common practice the city is known as Brighton
(though this irks some Hove nationalists) while in official parlance
the terminology, 'the City of Brighton & Hove', remains. How long
this will hold true is anybody's guess, but place names do change. Afterall,
Brighton was known as Brighthelmston up until about 1810, and the term
was still commonly used well into the nineteenth century.
In 1997 the local government administrations of the neighbouring towns
of Brighton and Hove merged to create one Brighton & Hove Council.
Some Hove residents saw this as annexation. What is true is that Hove
had always been the junior partner, smaller and more sedate, while Brighton
had always had a louder, seaside, even raffish reputation. But in reality
since the late nineteenth century Brighton and Hove have formed one densely-populated
conurbation, a fact recognised throughout the twentieth century in the
names of the local football club, Brighton & Hove Albion and the
local bus company, Brighton & Hove. It was always an odd fact that
when you crossed Norfolk Square, right in the main shopping thoroughfare,
you were crossing the boundary between the two towns.
So it was very fitting that in 2000 the new city of
Brighton & Hove
was officially created. Between 1997 and 2000 what we had was two towns
with one political administration. City status cemented this union. It
was a recognition of reality and Brighton became the biggest city in
the South-East apart from London. To be precise, the City of Brighton
and Hove became the largest city in the south-east, apart from London.
The Place to Be
Brighton is a great place to live. It has seven miles
of coastline, from Saltdean in the east to Shoreham harbour in the west.
In the summer - indeed on any sunny day at whatever time of year - between
its two historic piers, the gaudy funfair of Brighton Pier and the skeletal
wreck of the West Pier, thousands of holidaymakers and residents 'promenade'
like many generations have before them - for Brighton has been a popular
seaside resort for more than two centuries.
Brighton is also a major shopping centre attracting people
from all over Sussex and beyond. Londoners often come down to Brighton
for both sea and shopping. It has hundreds of places to eat. And it has
an annual calendar of events that means there's always something on worth
going to see - for example, in Madeira Drive. And yet wherever
you live in the city the Downs are never far away by car or bus, cycle
or even foot.