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|A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton|
by Paul K Lyons
9 - Past a windmill hill, a setting sun, Tarner's look-out, and into graffiti land
I exit the park into West Drive, where it costs 50p to park for half an hour or £1 for a maximum of two hours, Monday-Saturday 9am-8pm; and where a part-furnished four bedroom house rents for as much as £2,500 a month. The houses here are splendid, semi-detached but large with small half balconies on the first floor. I'm only in West Drive for a few metres before I must turn left into Albion Hill, which, at this end, is fairly characterless. I walk up the hill, past garages, towards the back of a grey church-like building. It faces on to Queen's Park Road, from where I can see various plaques and notices. One says, 'Galead. We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world 1 John IV. XIV. Inauguration Service September 8th 1891'. Another announces the Orchard Day Nursery and After School Club, and yet another offers some property for sale. Opposite is a deli called Wild Cherry, and a pub called Walmer, which is painted bright red, nearly the colour of cherries. The outside walls are decorated with large fish-like sculptures, and inside the decor includes live fish in tanks.
I swing right into Richmond Street and then left into Windmill Street to bring me back towards the 450 northing. The houses are small and terraced, the front doors open onto the pavement, and the streets are narrow and packed with parked cars. In Richmond Street most of the houses have bay windows arching out toward the pavement, and are painted pale colours such as cream, ivory, light blues and greens. In Windmill Street, which drops down slightly to the south with views of coastal Brighton beyond, the houses seem gayer, coloured with brighter hues. This is near the top of Albion Hill, where there may have been up to four windmills back in the 19th century. A map dating from 1876 shows the road still in development - only the southern half of the west side had any houses. But today colourful businesses hide behind the terraced facades. Mimosa Public Relations, for example, has an address here (as it happens, in a house that, 100 years ago, was occupied by a pianoforte teacher) and so does The Show Team. The latter claims it can deliver 'dynamic choreography, professional cast, and stunning costumes for events and shows across the UK and worldwide'. And, on the corner at 1 Windmill Street, is The Setting Sun, a pub with good views towards the west, and bright red doors. A notice, also bright red, says 'we have a well-behaved children's licence from 12-9 Fri Sat Sun'. I do wonder how might regulate a 'well-behaved children's licence'. The Brighton Singers Club meets here on Wednesdays, no doubt on their best behaviour. The pub appears to date from the mid-19th century when it was called The Millers Arms.
A right turn into Sussex Street will lead me steeply down, and west, roughly along the 450 northing. I can see much of central Brighton before me including the long roofs of the railway station and the spire of St Peter's Church. All the houses on the right side of this road are semi-detached cubes surrounded by small plots of land, although none of the land is particularly well gardened. On the left, the land falls away sharply to reveal various buildings and land uses, mostly connected with education. One sign, for example, announces Margaret McMillan Open Air Nursery School, and another the Carlton Hill Primary School. Between them are odd-looking playgrounds, some with their walls and structures covered in coloured graffiti, or small parking places. There is also a curious small tower structure, partly obscured by foliage, the walls of which are faced with broken flint stones in regular rows and columns. This was probably built in the mid-19th century by Edwin Tarner, a merchant, in the grounds of his house, St John's Lodge (now a listed building in Tilbury Place, off Carlton Hill running parallel to Sussex Street). It is said Tarner built the tower as a look-out, so he could watch for his vessels in the English Channel, and then make his way to London's docks to meet them.
To the south, across a street or two, I can see the monstrously ugly American Express building, made up of thick black and white horizontal stripes. A confusing street sign says: 'No Stopping. Mon-Fri 8:30-9:30am. 2-4pm. Except August. On entrance markings.' Below me, the view is becoming dominated by blocks of flats, some low and long, and some high. I pass, on my right, a truly uninspired piece of architecture, a small block of flats called Coastal Counties House, and, on my left, an area of grass behind fencing. Sussex Street brings me down to the Lion & Unicorn pub complete with double glazing and bright red trimmings. A curved wall in front is adorned with graffiti, full of strong violet and mauve colours incorporating the name of the pub and an invitation: 'Come in for a drink'.
by Paul K Lyons
A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton - along the 450 northing
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