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|A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton
by Paul K Lyons
7 - Blue Light nights, a two tone green pub with free barbie, plus a yellow art house
Brighton Racecourse now belongs to a company called Northern Racing plc, which owns eight other courses across the country. It spent over £5 million in the last few years modernising the course and buildings. In 2005, there were more than 20 race days, and the average number of punters rose to over 2,000, from around 400 several years ago. This year (2006), it costs £18 for a ticket to the premier enclosure, and £13 for a ticket to the grandstand and paddock enclosure. In order to keep the business viable, though, Northern Racing has adopted a strategy of using the venue for theme events - such as an Office Party night, a Blue Light night for emergency services, and family fun days - and of renting it out for others to hold events (there were over 1,000 in 2005). It must be a nice place to work, all these views and fresh air; and, just recently, Northern Racing has introduced 'complimentary tea and coffee' for its stable staff.
The road called Manor Hill takes me to a small roundabout. I turn left, anxious to get back close to the 450 northing. This is Queensway. There's a bus stop here (number 21 will take me to the marina one way or the station the other), a phone box, and a patch of waste land with large round orange cable holders. A Royal Mail van pulls up and delivers a new sack of mail to a waiting postman. A road to my left, The Causeway, leads to Monument View. There's an odd concrete bollard (chest high). An inscription reads 'Raceground 105.0.30', and small metal plaques on each side carry an arrow pointing downhill away from the racecourse. This is a boundary stone, dating from 1861, used to define the racecourse land when it was still unenclosed. Carder's book explains that '105.0.30' refers to the racecourse area: 105 acres, 0 rods and 30 poles.
The road descends slowly following a curve. Tilgate Close, a small cul-de-sac to my left, curls further down underneath the line of modern dark red houses on the hill crest (just below the aerial mast). Looking ahead in the distance, there's a great view of the sea, and below there's a collection of houses and housing blocks, wide grassy verges and small lawns. It's a peaceful scene, not unattractive, and one Queensway residents wish to protect: in July 2005, angry householders along here complained to the council because their rubbish was being left to rot. High up on a lamp post (presumably to avoid being tampered with, or to be seen by those with excellent eyesight from afar, or perhaps for drivers using stilts) I spy a small yellow poster: 'Sussex Police. Lock it, empty it or lose it. Crime - lets bring it down.' I pass a concrete stool, its seat carefully crafted with mosaic. It's an arty little thing which seems out of place; as does the ivy covering one house, when every other buildings is such plain brick.
At last, I'm back close to the 450 northing, and turn west into Dawson Terrace. Walking steeply uphill, I find older style terraced houses with square or angled bay fronts. One of them is painted lilac and mauve. There are some odd-looking properties on my left, one of them, Bower Court, appears to date from the 1930s. David Nwokedi lives along here (or did recently). In 2005, he published his first novel, 'Fitzgerald's Wood', which tells the story of a black child growing up in a sleepy, white village 30 miles south of London.
Dawson Terrace brings me to Freshfield Road, a wide street with no grass verge. To my left, it goes down towards the sea, and to my right it goes up to the same mini-roundabout near the racecourse, where I turned into Queensway. I turn left, past The Cuthbert, a pub painted in two tone green with large windows. It looks pleasant enough. Signs says 'g'day for a barbie - free use of BBQ' and 'Quiz night on Sundays. Lots of laugh with our special quizmaster'. In the summer of 2005, the pub was granted a late licence under the new laws, allowing it to serve alcohol until midnight Sunday-Thursday, and to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. The beerintheevening website does not give the pub a rating, but it does carry a couple of rather negative comments, such as 'very brightly lit with bad decor, sometimes a sign of a pub working hard to keep things in order'. But the website insists that such comments are only personal and must not be taken too seriously.
Cuthbert Road falls away steeply to the left, giving an intriguing view full of different levels and patterns: first there's the dropping curve of Victorian terraced houses (all different colours), then a pattern of roofs, and then, beyond, the scrub of hillside towards Whitehawk. The Yellow House, at 5 Cuthbert Road, becomes an Open House art space every year during the Brighton Festival. Along Freshfield Road, the houses on the east side drop down below street level, some have crazy paving in front, some have porches, some have plants. On the corner with Evelyn Terrace, there's a larger, older looking property divided into flats. I turn right into Evelyn Terrace, past painted garage doors and the interesting looking Haydon Lodge (with balconies and a circular turret) to a t-junction with East Drive, and to an entrance for Queen's Park which is right on the 450 northing.
by Paul K Lyons
A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton - along the 450 northing
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