slightly depressing high-rise appearance, but behind this modern facade there is a charming labyrinth of streets dating from an earlier age called The Lanes, offering an array of smart little shops, restaurants and pubs. Brighton has a thriving gay community, and each summer there is a massive Gay Pride parade.
Just to the east of the Lanes is Brighton’s most famous landmark, which looks as though it belongs not only to a different age, but to a far-flung country. The Brighton Royal Pavilion was built to look like an Indian palace, and looks comically incongruous with its riot of domes and other exotic Indian features. It houses one of the finest collections of chinoiserie in Britain. It was built by John Nash as a seaside home for the Prince Regent, George, Prince of Wales, later George IV, and construction commenced in 1787.
In the late 1800s, Magnus Volk, son of a German clockmaker, who was born in Brighton, built a tourist attraction which was a rival in eccentricity even for the Pavilion. Nicknamed the “Daddy Longlegs”, it was a “Seashore Electric Tramroad” consisting of a vehicle with 24-foot long legs, each with four wheels on the end, with two open decks, which could carry up to 150 passengers for 3 miles along the seafront to neighbouring Rottingdean. It was powered by electric cables which ran along a row of wooden poles. Sadly, this bizarre example of 19th century inventiveness was destroyed by a severe storm one week after opening, although it was rebuilt, only to close again in 1910. One of Volk’s earlier projects, however, was much more long-lived, in fact it still runs today. August 1883 saw the opening of Volk’s Electric Railway, the world’s first public electric railway. During the summer months it is possible to travel on this eminent piece of engineering from the Aquarium to Black Rock.
Brighton Festival, one of the country’s biggest and most well-established arts festivals, takes place in early summer each year. For other events, see here.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Martyn Gorman, via Wikimedia Commons|