A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton
by Paul K Lyons

(see below for the same
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Brighton in Diaries




































INTRODUCTION TO BRIGHTON CROSS - a straight line walk along the 450 northing

I have a long association with Brighton. As a young couple, in their mid-20s, my parents came here for a weekend in late summer 1951 - and went home with more than they bargained for. Marriage followed. Many years later, I found a photograph of them sitting in deckchairs on the beach - probably a few hours before or after the moment my life began. In the 1980s, I was a regular visitor, drawn by the personal warmth and social excitement I found in the home of friends - Rosy and Andrew. And for several years in the 1990s, my partner and young son lived in North Laine. Now, I'm back, because, I suppose, it seems the right place to be. Researching and writing Brighton Cross has been my way of saying hello to an old friend.

Two years ago I wrote London Cross. My aim was to complete two straight line walks across London, south to north and east to west, thus not only walking aCROSS London, but walking a CROSS shape also. I completed the south-north walk, but was unable to find an agent or publisher. Consequently, I never got round to doing the east-west walk. Subsequently, I decided to make the text of the south-north walk freely available on the internet (www.londoncross.co.uk). Before completing London Cross, and before collecting scores of rejection letters, I had vaguely dreamed of writing a series of Cross books - Dublin Cross, Ibiza Cross, New York Cross . . . So, when I moved to Brighton, it seemed natural to reprise the Cross idea - but just for fun, and with the intention of making it available here on the website.

However, when I came to plan the walk, I realised - given the shape of Brighton - I wouldn't be able to create a CROSS shape (a t-junction maybe!), and that one east-west walk would be sufficient. I also realised - given the lie of Brighton - any walk from east to west in a straight line would end when I hit the sea. Since I wanted to walk through at least some of Brighton's centre, but, at the same time, wished for a balance, with roughly the same distance covered both east and west of the centre, I was fairly constrained as to my route line. I decided on the 450 northing. Unfortunately, this is not shown on the common Ordnance Survey Explorer map (two and half inches to a mile) - only the 400 and 500 northings are shown. However, it is marked on county street atlases (such as Philip's).

I do not pretend myself to have any knowledge of Brighton or its history, I'm just someone who likes exploring (geographically and in libraries) and who has a persistent need to write. All the information I've gathered for Brighton Cross is thanks to many others who do know a lot about the city, and who have generously shared their knowledge or memories online or in books. I hope I've acknowledged this in the text wherever appropriate, either with internet links or source book references. I would, though, like to acknowledge three excellent general sources here:
'Encyclopaedia of Brighton' by Timothy Carder (East Sussex County Libraries, 1990)
'Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade' by Judy Middleton (Brighton and Hove Libraries, various years)
My Brighton and Hove - which describes itself, justifiably, as 'a living history of Brighton and Hove'.

I would encourage any reader wanting accurate facts or information about Brighton to refer to these sources (and, under no circumstances, to rely on Brighton Cross). The Brighton History Centre, in Brighton Museum, has copies of the above books and many more.

Brighton Cross is not meant to be any kind of walking guide. My aim was simply to record a slice of Brighton, a random cross-section, at a particular moment (or moments) in time, combining all kinds of information, whether about local history and stories, architecture and planning, street names and quirky notices, or companies and organisations. And it is not meant to be read through from beginning to end, but to be dipped into, like Schott's Miscellany perhaps or a Rough Guide. It consists of 34 short sections, and these are indexed below. You can scroll through the book by clicking 'next' on each page, or jump to any section by using the links at the side. I would really appreciate feedback, whether it's to correct errors, to suggest additions, or to let me know what you think.

Paul K Lyons (June 2006)

BRIGHTON CROSS - along the 450 northing

1 - Happy valley, once wooded, where land cost £10 an acre, but Bubble Cars can kill
2 - Bagging trigpoints, Wick (or Uicus) Bottoms and a spot of land reclassification
3 - Roedean Gap, and all about Roedean girls - what they are, and where they have it
4 - From a club with prime ministerial links to a school with a slimy reputation
5 - A lovely war, amazing grazing, a Piltdown mystery, and the shames of Whitehawk Way
6 - Dunroamin, a causewayed camp (and cannibals?), and Prince Regent at the races
7 - Blue Light nights, a two tone green pub with free barbie, plus a yellow art house
8 - Brighton Park - for a chemical spa, off-sync clocks, and a slider-friendly ice rink
9 - Past a windmill hill, a setting sun, Tarner's look-out, and into graffiti land
10 - A modern mish-mash in Morley Street; and an early Hindoostanee entrepreneur
11 - Couchant lions, ten bells, poisoned chocolates, and good news for the Astoria
12 - From gents by angelic hell to infinity, and from red blob records to drum's guitars
13 - Too much to dream, or perhaps of, in football scores, Rin Tin Tin, and the YMCA
14 - Spring Gardens? No! But a green Earth and Stars; and Seurat across the Channel
15 - A bosom-shaped Noddy car, a queen of dippers, and a love-sick army ladette
16 - St Nicholas survives despite the devil's work, as does a most immodest epitaph
17 - A colourful Urban story and the PV's Rizla offer, while C-side man goes digital
18 - Magdalene's confession time, Turner's palette, and Noble's sweet ode to love
19 - A confusion of Montpeliers, not to mention high urinals and a wondering chapel
20 - Yummy cakes, Egyptian fare, Bankers fish, Barracuda pizzas - and a Sanctuary
21 - Patrick's Shelter, RotoVision's Nudes, City Penguins - and a Regency treasure
22 - Drinking freemasons and coppers, department shoppers, plus a nice young man
23 - From a blooming clock to a cracking giant dome via an autobiographical snippet
24 - Rum-a-Tum Tum, maybe, at St John's, followed by a history, not grammar, lesson
25 - Along the Avenues for a nunnery inn or Hangover Square or quickfire gags
26 - About a King's visits, Queen Vic's view, a boy Vic's tips, and a grandson's find
27 - From an invisible plaque to Old Hooky via a snoopy actress and Neptune in code
28 - From holy Saturdays to pregnant models, via longboards and Neptune in fiction
29 - Brunel's Hove; now King Alfred's up for demolition while Gehry's towers are pending
30 - An old ship goes froggy, more aging freemasonry, and a sagging Sackville
31 - Of cycling and lanes (long and weird), of bowling (mixed), and a rainbow of huts
32 - Warnings, prohibitions, shifting shingle, the flight of Charles II, and lagoon life
33 - From a fishy Kemble to a capsized Sally Jane not via Millionaires' Row beach
34 - A once busy gas works, Animazoo and an animal siege, and a bare groyne ending


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