The expansion of Hove: a house – and garage – for everyone
6 November 2018
By Lindsey Tydeman
A devastating war may have come and gone but through it the register of planning applications in the Borough of Hove Surveyor’s Office was maintained faultlessly, the only evidence of the national trauma being a 50 per cent decrease in planning applications between 1914-1918. After the war, although local industries and shops continued to grow and modernise, there was a very slow start to house-building despite the temporary subsidies available under the Housing (Additional Powers) Act 1919.
It was to take ten years before confidence in the building industry returned. 1928 seems to be the key year in Hove’s expansion northwards into Hangleton, Blatchington and the surrounding downland farms. The roads between the railway line and the Old Shoreham Road were filled with large-scale developments (ie ‘45 houses, Amherst Crescent and Aldrington Avenue’) and the success of this was the cue for huge projects of new roads, sewers and housing north of the Old Shoreham Road which was only interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939. Braybons the builders cornered the market in Hangleton as they had done in Brighton; they began building 103 houses in Elm Drive, May Tree Walk and Rowan Avenue in spring 1933, and started again building 80 houses and 38 garages on Hangleton ‘Estate Road No 4’ in early 1936. A garage was now considered essential; everyone who had bought a house without one or builders who had started constructing houses without them remedied their errors in the 1930s. The value-for-money option was the pre-fabricated garage from Booths Portable Buildings Ltd.
There was obviously rapid profit to be made in large estates of smaller semi-detached houses, and, later, of semi-detached and detached bungalows. The impression from the register is of developers, individually or in groups, being determined to start building as soon as land became available, often putting plans before the Borough Surveyor and Improvements Committee even before a specific plot had been identified on a new road and necessitating a measurement from the nearest landmark or building in order to plot it on the office map. A handful of local architects and builders maintained a firm grip on the developing housing market and, by 1937, some of them had been there since the 1890s, handing on the business through the family. Several names – Marchant, Nye, Parsons and Sons, Braybons, Cook, Callaways, Denman and Draycott – are still associated with the building industry and working in Brighton and Hove today.
After the First World War, the rich no longer came en masse to spend their summers in Hove. Some families sold their grand houses in Hove’s premier roads leading from Church Road and Western Road to the seafront, but others kept them, converting them into flats for rental income. Initially, each floor of a large house would become one flat, the architect’s plans rarely exceeding four in one building. However, in 1938 owners began to see the potential in ‘tenements’ (as the planning register called them), or ‘flatlets’ (in the words of the architect). Perhaps those at 9, 11 and 13 Holland Road were Hove’s first studios. The party walls separating the large terraced houses were demolished, making them ‘all intercommunicating’. The rooms were divided by a partition wall to create a living space with a ‘kitchenette’ in the corner. A shared bathroom was at the end of the landing or on the next floor. In August 1940, plans were submitted to make 16 flatlets and caretaker’s quarters out of the single house at 44 Brunswick Place.
Hove still remained the town of choice for wealthy individuals and retirees. The latter could move into one of the luxury, modern purpose-built flats occupying prominent positions on the Kingsway. In August 1936, Viceroy Lodge at the bottom of Hove Street was designed with its own servants’ quarters and every flat in St Aubyn’s Mansions had its own maid’s bedroom. In 1932, Hove’s first private swimming pool had been designed by the architect Mr S Clough. Designed for satisfying length swimming, it filled the entire back garden of number 8 Third Avenue and came with 2 diving boards, a terrace and, for privacy, a thick conifer screen at the back.
In 1939, Hove’s main industries were still those of 50 years previously and they were in the same place, banked up against the Brighton to Shoreham railway line. Dubarry’s had bought out the Standard Tablet Company in 1924 and was installed in the factories and warehouses south of Hove Park Villas. Brighton and Hove Omnibuses were still in Conway Street and the laundries in Arthur Street were expanding and updating; in 1922, dry cleaning was offered at Channel Laundry. The newly-created industrial estate to the west of Newtown Road was dominated by the head office of Clarks Bakery, whose delivery men on bicycles, and later vans, supplied the local shops. Improvements in 1933 placed woodblock-floored offices, a telephone booth and boardroom around the strongroom, with a three-bedroomed flat upstairs. Green’s, makers of dessert and cake mixes, had been on its site between Portland Road and the railway for over 20 years and had its own spur line to the factory. The machine tool factory CVA Jigs, Moulds and Tools lay on the north side of Portland Road opposite Glebe Villas and had expanded from its ‘temporary building’ in 1917 to a full iron foundry works in 1930. Smelting work was carried out there until the early 1970s.
Away from Hove’s many pubs or ‘hotels’ as the planning register termed them, entertainment came in the form of football, greyhound racing and cinema. The Goldstone football ground had a new North Stand in 1930, to be followed by a clubhouse, improved lavatories and two ‘temporary’ bars, owned by Tamplins, in 1937. The nearby greyhound stadium, new in 1929, went from strength to strength; improved and extended during the early 1930s, it received a ‘totalisator’ building for betting in April 1936, additions to the grandstand in late 1938 and extensions to the east stand in January 1939. Hove Ice Rink, which lay alongside the railway at the top of Denmark Villas, was a huge temple-like building with a high-ceilinged entrance hall, orchestra pit, restaurant, board room and tea lounge. However, it lost popularity soon after opening in 1929 and was reopened as the Hove Lido cinema in 1932.
Dr Hart of 47 Cromwell Road was the first civilian to apply for permission to build an air raid shelter in his garden in January 1939. This threw the Planning Committee into a dilemma; as it was ‘a structure not provided for in their Building Bylaws, the Borough Surveyor suggests that the Council accept no responsibility in respect of the proposals’. They didn’t have long to wait before instructions from the War Office took the responsibility away from them. Only two organisations, the Brighton and Hove Omnibus Company and Boots Chemists, were proactive when it came to protecting their employees in the months before war became official, the former building two air raid shelters in Conway Street, one with a gas-proof door, and the latter providing shelters at all three of its shops in Boundary Road, George Street and Church Road.
Regarding the book itself, 1939’s planning register, purchased in June 1937 from Combridge’s Stationers at 56 Church Road, is a duplicate of Hove Borough’s first planning register of 1885. Its layout and listing style were unchanged, reflecting, one suspects, the procedural continuity of the council committee meetings at which the Borough Surveyor approved new buildings. Ink pens were still used although the writing was no longer standard nineteenth-century copperplate and formalities were important. The word ‘Messrs’ always preceded a company’s name and two or more unmarried sisters living together were termed, ‘The Misses…’. It was business as usual in the Surveyor’s Office right up to 24 December and again after 26 December. It would be 35 years before 1 January became a public holiday.
Delving into Hove’s planning registers – a work in progress…
27 February 2018
By Lindsey Tydeman
During the past few months staff at The Keep have been working though old volumes from the Surveyor’s Office at Hove Council, adding details of building control plans to the public database. This will assist anyone who wants to find the original plans for their house, or to start researching their house history. Nearly 50,000 applications were made to Hove Council’s Works and Improvement Committee between 1875 and 1984, and the listing so far has reached the early years of the 20th century…
Flawless copperplate writing, free of mistakes or deletions, was the required form for the records and minutes of Hove Council and its plan registers are no exception. From the formation of the Works and Improvement Committee in 1875, every plan submitted to it, whether for greenhouses, bicycle stores, new roads, houses, or alterations or additions to existing buildings, came under its scrutiny and was afterwards deposited at the Town Hall in Church Road. An individual plan was usually submitted by the architect on behalf of their client; this could be a building company, an individual or a business. A brief description of the proposed work is given, then the address, date submitted and whether the plan accorded with the by-laws and permission given. If permission was refused the plan was taken away for redrafting and possible resubmission later.
In 1875, much of central Hove already existed. The squares and terraces of Brunswick Town had stood for nearly 50 years; already built, too, were the villas and mansions of First, Second, Third, Fourth and Grand Avenue. However, no plans exist for these buildings as there was no requirement for plans to be deposited with Hove Commissioners (the body which predated Hove Council), although alteration plans from 1860 onwards can sometimes be located.
The post-1875 planning registers demonstrate how Hove rapidly expanded north and west from its wide southern avenues to provide an environment for a growing middle class and the people who worked for them. The 1880s was a decade of intense building; houses were built in twos, fours, sixes and more. The architect A Udney applied to build 17 houses in Newtown Road in February 1882; 24 houses had been constructed by the Davey brothers on Montgomery Street the previous October. Walking away from central Hove one would have encountered rudimentary roads on all sides and building plots in all of them. This frenzied activity ended abruptly, however, at the top of Hove Park Villas. Beyond the newly-laid out Hove Recreation Ground, one would have seen large fields of downland farming, a chalk and lime pit, and, directly to the west, allotments. On the north-west horizon was the Italianate water tower of Goldstone Pumping Station (now Hove Engineerium) and St Peter’s church and windmill at West Blatchington.
The cost of making up a new road, installing kerbs, tarmac and paving, was often the subject of negotiation between the original landowner and Hove Council, with a percentage of the final cost being passed on, if possible, to the builders or developers. Houses were frequently renumbered as the road lengthened so the position of new builds is often described in the registers as ‘on the south side’ or ‘on the south-east corner’. Road names could reflect topical events, landowners’ interests, local developers or prominent councillors. Portland Road was built on land owned by the Duke of Portland, Ellen Street and Ethel Street were named after daughters of the landowning Stanford family, Tisbury and Norton Roads reflected Stanford landholdings in Wiltshire. Mafeking Road and Redvers Roads in Brighton commemorated events and individuals associated with the British imperialist wars of the late nineteenth century.
Several ‘firsts’ appeared in Hove in the 15 years between 1890 and 1905. Hove Council gave permission for the first official advertisement hoarding to be erected at the site of the gas cottage on Church Road in 1896; the same year saw the town’s first block of residential flats in Hove Street. The first bungalow, built for a Mr J Curley, was sited along the Old Shoreham Road ‘near the waterworks’ in 1904; after that bungalows were regularly built although in very small numbers compared to detached, semi-detached and terrace houses The conversion of houses into flats saw its beginnings in Hove in 1904 with the conversion of a terrace row in Montgomery Street converted into ‘double tenements’. Flats were not always the results of house conversions but could be designed as purpose-built self-contained flats within an apparent new-build semi-detached or terraced house.
In 1898, Lloyds Bank was on the corner of Church Road and Sackville Road, Boots and Sainsburys were in Church Road, Forfar the bakers was at 123 Church Road and the Co-Operative Stores was at Lansdowne Street. In 1887, Co-Op customers could enjoy a newly-installed sliding glass roof over the open space in front of the shop. For Hove residents with plenty of leisure, there were bowls and tennis clubs, the public library, built in 1906, and a gymnasium in Holland Road. George Street was the hub; packed with shops and flats, it also had laundries, a school, the fire station, a music hall in 1891 and an Electric Theatre (cinema) in 1911.
Before the First World War only a very few wealthy enthusiasts owned a car. The first application to construct permanent housing for them was in 1903, at Brougham Mansions on Shoreham Road (now the Kingsway). This was called a ‘motor shelter’; six months later a similar application described a ‘motor store’. In April 1904, the Brighton architects Clayton and Black applied on behalf of the Brighton and Hove Omnibus Company to build a ‘motor shed’ at the omnibus stables in Conway Street, while Mr Whillier wanted to build a ‘motor garage’ in Wish Road in October 1905. This was the first appearance of the term ‘garage’, a word that came into its own during the early 1920s. Stabling continued to be built alongside garages at this time as it was by no means assumed that mechanised transport would eventually replace the horse.
Listing Hove Council’s planning applications is a work in progress and we hope to share further discoveries as they are made.
Pubs in the archive – do we hold architectural plans for your local?
25 January 2018
East Sussex Record Office holds an extensive collection of architectural drawings and plans of pubs in Brighton and Hove (and across East Sussex). Some of these were originally sent to the Planning Department for approval; others were submitted to the Brighton Petty Sessions, which dealt with licensing issues. We displayed a small selection of the plans before our recent talk on alcohol and temperance but, for those not able to get here that night, we are showing a few here too.
Some are plans for an entirely new building; others illustrate proposed alterations, reminding us that the most familiar features now were perhaps not part of the original design. In some cases, names have been changed – The Greys in Southover Street was once called The Bricklayer’s Arms, while The Islingword in Queen’s Park Road was known as The Beaufort Hotel. The Open House in Springfield was also designed as a hotel and, although the exterior of the building will look familiar to anyone who knows it, the floor plan includes stalls and loose boxes for horses and an inner courtyard area, a clear reflection of another era.
Although we cannot claim to have plans for every pub in the city, this is a substantial and fascinating collection which shows how some of the Brighton’s best-loved pubs have changed through time. If you’d like to find out if we hold any plans for your local in our archives, why not pay us a visit? Plans can be scanned by registered users in our Reading Room, or ordered via our Reprographic Service (charges apply). Cheers!
Brighton As It Could Have Been – unbuilt plans from our archives
17 January 2018
By Andrew Bennett
Whilst carrying out preparatory work for the move to The Keep, I came across a beautifully illustrated architect’s impression of a brutalist conference centre proposed for the Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, dating from the late 1950s. The building was not unattractive but its positioning was controversial and, almost without exception, everyone I have shown it to has reacted with horror. Not long after that discovery, I came across plans drawn up in 1965 for the Skydeck, a very tall viewing platform situated on Brighton seafront, which would have dominated the skyline and bears a passing resemblance to the i360. There are many other examples of town planning that may have looked forward-thinking in the 1960s but look like eyesores in 2018, and other plans that look ahead of their time. There are others that must have seemed ambitious when they were proposed and remain puzzlingly eccentric.
It is easy to forget that every project, whether realised or not, needs plans in order to be approved or rejected. It is also very difficult to search for plans of abandoned projects – how can you look for something you didn’t know existed? As I came across more of these examples of these plans, it occurred to me that they would make a great book. Unfortunately, the time-consuming nature of resolving copyright and ownership issues has always put me off starting such a project, but my technologically able colleague Ben Jackson, who works for the University of Sussex, suggested that we could make an ebook to display the plans. This ebook was put together for our Open Day back in September and is available to view on ipads at The Keep by prior arrangement (we are not publishing it in electronic format for the reasons mentioned).
The earliest of the plans was drawn up in 1799, when sea water bathing was in vogue, and shows the route of a proposed pipeline taking sea water from Brighton to Lambeth to provide Londoners with access to sea bathing. The majority of designs date from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, when town planners were considering how to use new building materials such as concrete, and how best to integrate huge numbers of cars into our town centres. The designs were often radical and usually provoke a strong response.
These plans offer an interesting insight into the aspirations and practical considerations of architects and town planners in Brighton and Hove over the past 200 years. Whilst you may breathe a sigh of relief that a flyover wasn’t ploughed through North Laine, you may wish that you could have a beauty treatment at the handsome Summer and Winter Palace that was planned for the seafront just west of the West Pier!
If you’d like to have a look at the ebook, please email us at email@example.com to arrange a convenient time.
Brill’s Baths – health, leisure and Victorian splendour
24 January 2017
By Kate Elms
One of the joys of working in an archive is the perpetual sense of discovery – however detailed the catalogue entry for a particular item, there’s always potential for a wonderful surprise. Recently, while looking through some 19th-century building plans to promote our forthcoming talk on Victorian and Edwardian Brighton, archive assistant Drew Boulton spotted some beautiful architectural drawings of Brill’s Baths, designed in the 1860s by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
The popularity of sea bathing was key to Brighton’s growth in the 18th century, and indoor baths evolved initially as a way of enjoying the health benefits of sea water without having to brave the elements. They became increasingly luxurious and leisure-oriented and, by the 1860s, some offered communal swimming as well as a range of personal, therapeutic baths.
Charles Brill was not born locally but inherited his first premises in Brighton from his uncle, Mr Lamprell, in the 1840s. Brill’s business expanded and, by 1861, he was living in Clarendon Mansions on the seafront, with his wife, five children and eight members of staff. One of these was Ellen Ragless, a 19-year-old swimming mistress from Bognor. Her presence is explained by the fact that soon after, Brill opened an elegant Swimming Bath for Ladies in East Street. Patronised by royalty (the Duchess of Cambridge attended the official unveiling), these baths were filled with a continuous stream of fresh sea water that was warmed to summer temperatures even on the coldest days. According to a contemporary guide book, this enabled bathers ‘to enjoy the luxury and healthy recreation of swimming throughout the year.’
Brill’s next project – the baths designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott – was built between 1865 and 1869 on an even grander scale. Gilbert Scott himself is remembered for prominent public buildings such as the Albert Memorial and the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station, both of which showcase his love of medieval architecture and the Gothic Revival style. He’s said to have designed more than 800 buildings nationally, and assisted with the restoration of many more but, as far as we know, there are no other baths bearing his name. The drawings shown here were submitted to the Brighton borough surveyor’s office on 16 August 1865 and, by today’s standards, they’re remarkable both for their simplicity and their artistry.
The centrepiece of the scheme, the circular Gentlemen’s bath, measured 65 feet (nearly 20 metres) in diameter, making it the largest in Europe at the time. Sea water – 80,000 gallons of it – was piped from Hove, where it was reputed to be purer than Brighton, and beneath the domed roof, there was a balcony seating up to 400 spectators. Also for non-swimmers, the establishment featured a reading room, billiard room and barber shop. Reporting on the opening in August 1869, the Brighton Gazette was lavish in its praise, stating that, ‘In elegance it rivals the magnificent Thermae of the ancient Romans; in convenience it is unsurpassed by any effort of modern times.’
The entire building is said to have cost more than £90,000 and, to make way for it, three public houses were demolished (one of these, the Rising Sun, was thought to be haunted, but that’s another story). And for a time, Brill’s was one of the most fashionable destinations in town. But fashions change and, by the early 20th century, the baths had lost their allure. They were knocked down in 1929, and their demolition was captured by The Argus in a series of photographs held in our archive, shown below. The Art-Deco Savoy Cinema opened on the site the following year.