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|A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton
by Paul K Lyons
25 - Along the Avenues for a nunnery inn or Hangover Square or quickfire gags
In order to stick as closely as I can to the 450 northing, I need to take a left turn shortly. Because of the grid-like formation of the roads, it's not easy to decide which route to choose, but I decide to go round the Cornerstone garden, into First Avenue. This is the first of the Avenues built in the 1870s and named after the prevailing American fashion. It is a wide road lined with grand five storey terraced houses, and with cars parked down the middle. At this end, though, there are some smaller two storey cottage-like buildings that stand on my route at the entrance to Queen's Place, a cobbled mews (once called Queen's Mews) that runs parallel to Church Road. To the north are commercial premises: a Ladbrokes, which is offering me £60 for a £10 bet if Germany beat Costa Rica by two goals to nil in the first World Cup match, and an estate agent called Elliots. And, to the south, is an interesting looking pub, tucked into a building which connects Queen's Place to the one of the larger properties on First Avenue. It's called Hove Place, and boasts an Italian garden. Apparently, the building and garden were once part of a nunnery, and there are still some religious paintings visible.
Before entering Queen's Place, I'd like to mention Patrick Hamilton (1904-1962), who lived for a while as a child in First Avenue - although this was at number 12, near the sea end, not on my route. He was an author and playwrite whose style of describing street culture between the wars, has been described as Dickensian. While still young he was severely disfigured in a motor car accident. 'Hangover Square' published during the Second World War is considered by some to be his best book. Both Graham Greene and J B Priestley rated his work, and Greene, in particular, said Hamilton's novel 'West Pier' was the best ever written about Brighton.
Queen's Place is all dark green garage doors and yellow brickwork. Worlds End Motorcycles moved here a few years ago from London having originally begun life at World's End in Chelsea. Studio 57, a sports injury clinic, was the target of a robbery in 2005, two days after the owners had left on honeymoon. And, according to Judy Middleton's truly impressive 'Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade', Hove Police used one of these properties to look after its motorcycles for many years. Queen's Place leads me to Second Avenue, where I am surrounded by cars for sale. This is CG Trading which says it specialises in 'prestige, performance, four-wheel drive and smart cars'. One bright blue W reg Smart here costs £4,945. Over the road on the west side of Second Avenue is Tin Drum, one of four family run cafe-restaurants which, the owners claim, are 'the nearest you'll get to 'Friends' in Brighton'. Next to it, another mews, but this time a cul-de-sac, appears to be a continuation of Queen's Place. This is Victoria Grove (previously Victoria Mews) and is characterised by having all its garage doors painted dark red. An old painted sign on the brickwork says Fossey's Garage. Again according to Middleton's book, the first reported switch here from stables to garage occurred in 1914; and, interestingly or not, Hove Police used to have a dedicated petrol pump here.
I head south along Second Avenue towards the sea. As in First Avenue, there are lines of cars on either side and in the middle of the road. The houses, most of which weren't built until the 1880s and 1890s, are huge, and detached or semi-detached. Some are hotels, but mostly they've been converted into flats. Claremont House Hotel, with 12 bedrooms, calls itself a luxury Victorian villa. A standard double with breakfast costs around £100-110. Peter Cagney, who wrote material for the likes of Ken Dodd and Tommy Cooper, lived in the road during the 1970s. He also collected and published jokes ('Five Hundred Quickfire Gags'), and ran a postal comedy training course from his home. They say, however, that he was hopeless at telling jokes himself. On my left (the east side), number 19 served during the First World War as a base for the Invalid Comforts Fund for prisoners of war. The last 19th century house on the left hand side going south, number 24, has an iron verandah on the first floor, but the scruffy front door gives it all a rather run down appearance. This is where the first mayor of Hove - George Baldwin Woodruff - resided.
by Paul K Lyons
A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton - along the 450 northing
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