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|A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton
by Paul K Lyons
20 - Yummy cakes, Egyptian fare, Bankers fish, Barracuda pizzas - and a Sanctuary
There is not much to detain me long in Norfolk Road, pleasant as it is. All the properties are three storeys and terraced, although some are double-fronted. Many are listed buildings. Like The Yellow House near Queen's Park, number 21 takes part in Brighton Festival's Open House scheme. In 2006, five artists exhibited here: Joe Ramm (painted wood), Dagmar Eberts (contemporary glass), Robert Littleford (prints and paintings), Dave Rice (portraits and interiors), and Fiona McNab (Tudor portraits). Together, they enticed visitors by offering a 'walled garden with yummy cakes and desultory accordionist'. Their website is worth a look.
At the southern end of Norfolk Road, on the west side, there's a break in the terrace where the modern Braemer House stands in place of the Norfolk Road Methodist Church that, like Emmanuel Church, was built in the 1860s and demolished in the 1960s. Nearly at the corner with Western Road is the entrance to Olivet, a school of English which employs only Christian teachers (though students of all faiths are 'welcomed and respected').
I join Western Road on, or very close, to the 450 northing. This is the B2066 which, like the B2122, doesn't seem to go very far, or serve any purpose. I walk a few metres along Western Road, Brighton, past a large building which houses Bankers, a huge fish and chips restaurant, until I reach Boundary Passage on my right. This is a narrow, scruffy alley which connects back to Montpelier Place at a slight angle. It also acts as the dividing line between Brighton and Hove, and between postcode BN1 and BN3. It takes me a while but, eventually, I do identify a small square stone, a special one, embedded in the pavement. It has four capital letters etched into the surface (H P and B P), two each on either side of an etched line that has the same angle as that of Boundary Passage. It's a boundary stone, and I think it's the first one I've ever seen, or been conscious of. Just on the Brighton side of this boundary, back in the 19th century, there used to be a fire station and weigh bridge here.
Opposite, a sign on the corner between Western Road and Little Western Road tells me I am entering Hove and that it is twinned with Draveil (essentially, a suburb of Paris). Since 1997, however, Hove and Brighton have been part of the same local authority, independent of the East Sussex or West Sussex County Councils. In 2001, they, or rather it, was granted city status by the Queen.
After the Regency pleasures of the Montpelier streets, Western Road is a rather drab and motley collection of dull newer buildings or modern shop facades built onto older buildings, only some of which are worth noticing. Number 1 Western Road, Hove, for example is a closed-down property that, most recently, used to be an amusement arcade. In the recent past, though, the building, which has a large auditorium at the back, was a pine furniture warehouse, and bingo club. Before that and for most of the 20th century - from before the First World War to the 1970s - it served as a cinema. Originally called Cinematograph Theatre and then Tivoli Cinema, it was renamed after the Second World War as Embassy Cinema. In 1929, according to the Directory of Cinemas in Brighton & Hove, it showed its last silent movie in 1929 (Abel Gance's 'Napoleon'), and its final talkie ('Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again') in 1981. Further back still, in the late 19th century, an auctioneer and house agent occupied the site. On the same side of the road (the south), there was then, in the 1890s, The Oriental Cafe, roughly where Riz Raz, an Egyptian restaurant is today.
On the north side of Western Road, Hove, is a modern characterless building taking up the whole of the block, and containing The Providence, advertised as a Barracuda Pub. The modest sum of £12 will buy you two pizzas and a bottle of wine. The Barracuda Group says it owns and operates more than 60 unbranded pubs in community and high street locations throughout the UK. Its website gives no other details about the company. A 100 years ago, just before the turn of the century, one could find the Brighton & South Coast Railway Booking and Parcel Office here. Roedale Farm is also still listed in directories of the period.
I arrive at a crossroads with Brunswick Road heading north and Waterloo Street going down to the sea. Crossing Waterloo Street, and staying on the south of Western Road, I find Crystal Nails (which uses an American Flag motif for its signage) roughly where, a century ago, wool warehouse and an umbrella maker were trading. Upper Market Street, to my left, is a short road leading down to an old market building. A notice on the stonework says: 'Old Market built 1823, restored 1998'. Interestingly, a map dated 1876 designates the building as 'West End Riding School'. Architecturally speaking, the building on the next corner, with Brunswick Street East, stands out for its bold late Victorian style. The ground floor level is painted mulberry, and signs tell me this is The Juggler. Higher up on the building, a rather ornate and golden mosaic, says 'Western Hotel'. Just down from it, on Brunswick Street East is The Sanctuary Cafe. It claims it is not just a cafe but a community 'a place where everyone is welcome, from breast-feeding mums to businessmen, from pensioners to poets'. I wouldn't disagree. In its basement, the tiny Cella venue has a busy schedule of jazz and folk singers.
by Paul K Lyons
A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton - along the 450 northing
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