How to join the Walking Tour

For Brighton Festival in May, 2022, we’ve picked 12 stories by 12 people in 12 places around Brighton and Hove to form a walking tour. You can join anytime you like by…

Picking up a free printed map from Brighton Dome throughout May.

Clicking here to download the app ‘Echoes’, where you can find the whole tour, including audio and photos (or you can download the app and search for “Archive of Favourite Places”.

Visiting our online map, which has links to all the stories here.

… or if you happen across one of our 12 mini-exhibitions across the city (each one is located where the story takes place), you can scan the QR code for more info. The cafe at St Ann’s Well Gardens also has a wider exhibition of the photographs made for this project.

Please keep sending us your stories of Brighton and Hove that we can add to the online archive throughout the festival. Click ‘send us your story’ for all the information.

We hope you enjoy it!

Jim & Sofia of Stephenson&

Camera Obscura

My favourite place is Foredown Tower, an old water tower that was part of the old isolation hospital for infectious diseases. In 1991, the water tower reopened as a Camera Obscura. There are now only a handful of public Camera Obscuras left in the UK. When you look at the Camera Obscura, one of the many views you see is urban areas of the city, the sea as well as the downs. Foredown Tower is also an important place for me; I’ve always been interested in photography and so Foredown Tower has always been a magical place.

Jess, 2022

Monkey House

Learn all about Hove’s pioneering film makers

My favourite place is St Ann’s Wells Gardens and imagining George Albert Smith and Laura Eugenia Bayley running the pleasure garden with a monkey house, fortune-teller and magic lantern displays. They also built the second film studio in the UK at St Ann’s Wells Gardens and were pioneers in early filmmaking known for comedies and explored the possibilities of special effects. 

Jess, 2022

Jess’ story about St Ann’s Well Gardens has been included in the walking tour at Brighton Festival 2022. You can read and listen to the other 11 stories that have been included by clicking here.

How Much Can You Fit In A Beach Hut?

How much can you fit in a standard Brighton & Hove beach hut? 

Well, if it’s the one used by the surf therapy charity “The Wave Project” the answer is, “a lot”! At the last count, that wonderful little space contained about 12 surfboards, 4 inflatable paddleboards, over 50 wetsuits,  4 huge buckets of boots, hoods and gloves, all sorts of items to play beach games and everything you need to make gallons of warming hot chocolate!

And for the last 5 years, that equipment has been used to provide surf therapy to hundreds of young people across Brighton, Hove and Sussex. 

Our surf therapy programmes offer young people aged 8 to 18 the opportunity to participate in a specialised surf therapy course running once a week for six weeks. Each young person is paired with a volunteer surf mentor who provides one-to-one support; helping them to build confidence and self-esteem, develop resilience, and make friends. It doesn’t matter that in Brighton & Hove we aren’t always blessed with waves, we have found plenty of ways to have fun in the ocean even on the flattest days.

David, 2022


A lifetime of memories, cricket and then to the pub

One of my favourite places in Brighton is the oldest working velodrome in the world, the Preston Park Velodrome (built 1877).

I have memories of being taken there as a child to watch the cycle racing and then for some 30 years it was where I played our ‘home’ cricket matches on many Saturdays and Sundays followed by nourishment and a fantastic social life in one of three pubs, one at the top of Preston Drove (where I met my late wife), then called the Stanmer Park Tavern, the Park View and the Crown and Anchor where I had my wedding reception in 1973.

Chris, 2022

Chris’ story about Preston Park Velodrome has been included in the walking tour at Brighton Festival 2022. You can read and listen to the other 11 stories that have been included by clicking here.

The Balchin Lookout

I read that someone in Brighton else has already picked the Extra-mural Cemetery, accessible from the Gyratory at the top of Bear Road, and I confess I would have picked it too, but there is one tiny part of that cemetery complex (three cemeteries overlap here) which I always access from the Extra-Mural, which is actually in the Woodvale Cemetery. 

I call it Balchin lookout because of the simple but delightful grave there marking the burial place of Mr and Mrs Balchin – with its detail in deep blue and gold tesserae.  It has two benches facing broadly south (you can see the old workhouse at Brighton General from here) and I include a photo of my feet enjoying the view on a summer day.  It rained whilst I sat, but not enough to make me move.

Rob, 2022

This Little Community Garden

After thinking what places are truly my favourite in Brighton, this little community garden in Brighton would probably be the one.

It’s so tiny, literally on the corner of the road, but it’s nicely maintained and you’re allowed to enter and take what you need (not like the Preston Park garden, where there are signs not to forage). It has been an inspiration for garden ideas for the last few years for me. Me and my partner always step in when we pass it and it was one of the things that I noticed when I first moved here that made me fell really welcome.

On the opposite side of the junction they plant wild flowers for the bees.

Ola, 2022

Where’s Your Little Hat?

A friendly wave with Debs

For three summers I was a driver on the world’s oldest running electric railway. 

The question predominantly asked of me when I tell people this is  ‘Did you have a little hat?!’ Unfortunately, I have to disappoint them with the fact that no, I did not have an official train driver’s hat but nonetheless it was this kind of gleeful response that made this such a special job.

There was a certain look that would flood the faces of onlookers when they noticed this contraption pootling towards them. Slight bewilderment followed by delight. It was a look that for a moment had the magical effect of showing what they had looked like as a child. 

Since 1883 the brainchild of Magnus Volk has operated in some capacity along a stretch of Brighton seafront ranging vaguely from the aquarium to Blackrock station. This was the rough mile that I got to know so well from oiling the tracks of a morning and weeding the halfway station at Peter Pan’s playground, to hopping out to push car seven when she decided to stop over a dead spot and watching out for rogue volleyballs along the line.

I must have driven thousands of people along that mile of seafront. Each one of them had decided for fifteen minutes to give themselves over to an exercise of folly, to immerse themselves in novelty.

And although I can’t deny that at times there was a monotonous element to coursing that same short span of track, it was the waves that kept me going. Chugging along at 14 miles an hour top speed, past the nudist beach-goers,the mini-rallies, the enprammed toddlers, the marathon runners, the day-tripping families, the Passion recreationists, the bikers, the mods, the fishermen, the naked bike riders queuing for ice-creams at Blackrock station in shoes, hats and nothing in-between; they waved. 

They all waved to strangers because of the simple joy of a little old train born of the inventive spirit that draws so many to our seaside home.  

Debs, 2022

Debs’ story about The Volks Railway has been included in the walking tour at Brighton Festival 2022. You can read and listen to the other 11 stories that have been included by clicking here.

A Soothing Lack of Motion

My favourite place is the bowling green and croquet lawns in Hove.

I love the Art Deco buildings; part of the splendour of Hove’s 1930’s civic pride. My friends Steph and Garry had their wedding party in the bowling green bar. Brighton’s premier Elvis impersonator, fresh from a gig at the Labour Party conference, had everyone dancing by the end of the evening.

Crown green bowling was one of the few hobbies I could share with my dad. For a few weeks one summer I got quite good and entered a north west regional competition. I played against another young man, who said he wasn’t very good. He trounced me.  Later on, I learnt that he was a very talented player. I’d never come across competitive sportsmanship before. I think about my dad and my huge potential for success, as I watch the brilliant players who make the bowls clack together on the manicured lawns.

During lockdown I took photographs of the ornamental lily pond each day. Something about the depth of the water and the growth of the lilies kept me going. There were few people around initially but come June, when the weather was warmer and folks were braver, many more people came to walk the sea front. Most ignored my jumping the railings to get a better shot.

Some of us yearn for times gone by. Others are willing to accept progress and all the positives that come with plans for the future. I like the deco clock face without hands. I point it out to visitors. It doesn’t keep time. To me, it’s lack of motion is soothing.

Philip, 2022

Preston Park to Mile Oak

Like many people I first came to Brighton (35 years ago now) as a student, and for ten years I lived in the area between the Duke of York cinema and London Road station. I come from a family of walkers and I have such good memories of my walks when I first lived in Brighton. 

I would regularly explore the local area on foot and my favourite walk encompassed the parks and leafy roads near to where I lived. I would walk along Beaconsfield Road and down to Preston Park, walking the whole way across the park, through the rose garden (smelling the roses if they were in bloom), past the bowling greens and tennis courts, and through the little churchyard at the other side, reading the gravestones en route.

I would then cross the road and walk up the hill through the tree lined Surrenden Road past Varndean, where I would admire the houses and imagine being lucky enough to live there one day (I haven’t achieved this ambition!). I would come out onto Ditchling Road where there is a lovely view of the sea and walk downhill past Hollingbury Park. When I reached Fiveways, I would head down to Blakers Park, walk through the park and return home via Beaconsfield Road.

This walk enabled me to get to know the local area, gave me a decent amount of exercise – a fair bit of uphill walking, and allowed me to discover and enjoy local green spaces. Sadly, Preston Park is no longer the lovely park it used to be. It has  been neglected for some years now with overgrown bowling greens and no flower beds remaining. I am happy to say that the rose garden and the rockery are still there.

I live in Mile Oak now and I am lucky enough to be able to walk out onto the South Downs from my house where there are wonderful views of the city, sea and countryside. It is only a couple of miles from Mile Oak to Devil’s Dyke. Many of my regular walks include a stop for tea and cake or ice cream at Mile Oak Farm, a welcome break, before I return home.

Julie, 2022

More Than a Pub

A warm welcome from Marina and The Bevy

My favourite place in Brighton is The Bevy in Hillside. The Bevy is more than a pub, it’s a community pub in the heart of Moulsecoomb and still the only community pub on a housing estate in the whole of the UK. 

From it’s opening  and blessing by the local vicar at the time Father John. The Bevy has always strived to put the community first.

With it’s mix of friendly staff and wonderfully diverse regulars and wide variety of groups and events. There is something for everyone. 

From arts and crafts to memory moments cafe for people with dementia to the Friday friends lunch club. Great food monthly Saturday  markets Saturday night music and the Bevy bus for home Brighton games.

For me it is like a second family. Where we all help each other out. From care packages to sorting out food from the garden and from fareshare and everything in between. I love enjoying a drink or two with one of the  older regulars who I think of as a second dad.

During lockdown they started up The Bevy meals on wheels which has been voted the best in the country. 

It’s a great place to meet up with family and friends. So why not hop on a 49 bus and come and join us all.

Marina, 2022

Marina’s story about The Bevy has been included in the walking tour at Brighton Festival 2022. You can read and listen to the other 11 stories that have been included by clicking here.

Bright Orange Squash

Madeira Arches

I’m lucky to have been born here as my parents came to live in Brighton the day they were married – to a small dark basement flat in Wykeham Terrace.  But what a spot!

My dad had been studying at Sussex University and had a job lecturing at Brighton Technical College.  

This photo I think was taken on this stretch of beach by my uncle Rob visiting from Nottingham.

It had so much going on especially when I was little. It was very much the source of excitement!  Starting with the Aquarium (then dolphinarium – so sorry dolphins we loved you so much and didn’t know it was cruel),  Peter Pan’s Fairground with it’s long waving slide, Volks Railway!  I remember my dad taking me out for the afternoon to the trampolines and I had a big go on them after a huge drink of the bright orange squash that would have a paddle stirring it round all day.  Yes I was ill afterwards!  When we were allowed to go to the beach on our own – we’d walk down from home in a straight line across Queens Park and be on there all day – having been packed up with a sandwich.  We loved it.  There was a little arcade and we loved the bingo in there where you sat around the edge on a stool and flipped across the cover for the numbers as they were called and occasionally won a prize!

The nudist beach came along later.  I have never taken my notice of it.  Apparently I went to the Black Rock pool before it closed (right at the end by the Marina – which came along later).  I was too small to remember.  I do have lots of happy memories of the open air pool at Rottingdean though – when my Grandparents and Uncle visited us.  

I love it very much still.  I helped sell raffle tickets for the Grade 2 listed Madeira Terraces and we raised enough to restore three arches (there are 151). I hope they can be saved without changing them completely.  The country’s oldest green wall is just beyond it (and the gem that is Volk’s workshop).  I was one of the many volunteers who helped to replant some of it when they were restoring it. 

I’ve been going to this section of beach before work for a walk …and then the walk turned into a beach clean when I saw the plastic on there. Someone on Freegle kindly gave me some grabbers.  It’s a great reason to get to the water’s edge when everyone else is rushing about getting to work.  Last week’s beach clean was my 40th!  It’s glorious. I love it there.

Chloe, 2022

Joyous Mismanagement

Learning from the pictures with Gordon

As a child I lived with my mum and my brothers in a small house opposite the back door of the Duke of York’s Cinema. It’s nothing much to look at, just a shabby-looking emergency exit set into a long concrete-rendered wall running the length of the cinema’s foyer and auditorium. It’s next to the back entrance of the fire station. For all of the beautiful parks and architecture in Brighton I suppose it is an odd place to get misty-eyed about, as it is without doubt one of the more unremarkable and bland of sites in the city.

In the early mid-seventies my mum was an usherette at the cinema, showing people to seats with a small flashlight and selling ice cream in the intervals. She wore one of those old-fashioned uniforms of a short white dress and paper hat. During the school holidays, having no close relatives and no partner, my mum smuggled us through the back door during daytime kids’ performances where we sat all day watching film after film, often on repeat. It was an unspoked agreement between Len, the chain-smoking, hard-drinking manager, and us that this would happen and he would turn a blind eye. I think he had more than a soft spot for my very young mother.

During the early-eighties my late brother Rob was manager of the cinema. It had become a very different place, full of drugs and sub-cultures. He lived three doors up from the cinema back door, in a squat beside the back door of the Unitarian Church. The free entry door was again open to me and I watched films almost every day after school and at weekends.  In 1983 the cinema was due to change ownership, and Rob was told that he would no longer have a job. His response was to occupy the building and arrange an impromptu Punk festival with his co-workers. Whilst the police watched the front of the building, instruments and equipment were loaded in through the back door, which was then sealed to anyone but close friends and family. The building vibrated with 24-hour noise for several days before the police entered and evicted the revellers, including my brother.

When the new owners took the building over they hired new staff, including my best friend Ciaran who became assistant manager of, what was now, an arthouse cinema. We watched The Evil Dead on drugs, danced drunkenly to Stop Making Sense at the front of the auditorium and protected the screen during the high spirited showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Often, during the night time the projectionist would show the following day’s film for us, so we would all wander in after the pub, through the back door carrying take-out beers. It felt like home and we regularly slept in the seats, too tired and drunk to get home. Ciaran moved on from the job after a few years of joyous mismanagement.

I don’t get to go through that door anymore, I just have to go through the front with the other punters. But I still feel like I own it every time I visit.

Gordon, 2022

Gordon’s story about The Duke of Yorks Cinema has been included in the walking tour at Brighton Festival 2022. You can read and listen to the other 11 stories that have been included by clicking here.

The Hidden Beach

My favourite spot in Brighton is the beach to the west of Millionaire’s Row in Portslade. I don’t even know if it has an official name but our household often refers to it as the secret or hidden beach. During lockdown I frequently walked west along the beach around the Shoreham port area and discovered how much tranquility the ‘hidden’ beach has to offer. It is such a quiet spot and provides totally unspoilt views of the sunset. I love the fact that it’s just a few minutes walk from my house and will look and feel different every time I visit due to the ever changing skies and tides.

Lucy, 2022

Apocalypse Alley

Continuing on from where the more glamorous Hove Lagoon and the mythical Millionaire’s Row ends, lies Basin Road South, or Apocalypse Alley as it is affectionately known in my household. The road perfectly bisects the brutalistic industry of port businesses dealing in power and raw materials, and the benign beauty of Hove’s coast, where the sea and shore appear ever-changed on each visit. On the far western end Shoreham Power Station’s compact form looms over the amiable Carats Cafe Bar, whilst surfers venture into the surf in search of a wave to work with, but enjoying their freedom whatever. There is something deeply ambient and escapist in this stretch, away from the busier beaches and pared down to sea, sky, stones and concrete. I never get tired of seeing what arrangement the narrow palette of colours will take and to watch the sun melt into the water.

James, 2022

You Won’t Want to Leave!

My favourite go-to place is actually on the edge of Brighton and tucked away in the village of Rottingdean.

If you’re starting your walk at Marine Gate, I recommend by-passing the popular Undercliff Walk and instead take the high road and walk along the cliffs. You’ll get a fantastic birds-eye view of the marina, and taking this path you’ll also see the famous Roedean girls school which was founded in 1885 and its where Lady Penelope, heroine from the television series Thunderbirds attended!

Stay on the footpath and next up on your left is the Blind Veterans building which has been at Ovingdean since October 1938.  If you’re in need of refreshment at this point, take the steps leading down from the cliffs and grab a sarnie or slice of cake at Ovingdean Café. 

Once you’ve had your pick-me-up, head back up to the cliffs and continue walking towards Rottingdean village where your next point of interest will be Beacon Hill Nature Reserve (you’ll probably spot some sheep grazing) and the Grade 2 listed Rottingdean windmill, a wonderful looking smock mill dating back from 1802. The windmill has regular open days, generally on a Sunday. 

Check their website and if you’re lucky, you might be able to combine your walk with a visit to the mill.
By now you’ll be on the edge of Rottingdean and not far from your final destination. Cross the road by the White Horse and head round the side of the Tesco Express, here you’ll be in Golden Square, home of The Wash House.

Walk past the Wash House along the narrow pathway and then onto the High Street. There are plenty of independent cafes and shops, so grab yourself a sandwich because you’re nearly at my favourite place and it’s the perfect spot to sit and contemplate.

With the sea towards your back, keep on the High Street and within a couple of minutes, you’ll come to the Kipling Gardens. Head through the gates and perch yourself on one of the benches overlooking the croquet lawns and you’ll also get a bonus view of Rottingdean windmill.

Well done, you’ve found my favourite place and it’s especially enticing when the sun is shining. Take a book and lunch because once you’ve arrived, you won’t want to leave!

Caroline, 2022

Gradually and Gracefully

My favourite place in Brighton is standing on the beach gazing at the old pier. I have been doing it for years, from my twenties to my forties (I’m 49), and I watch as it gradually and gracefully falls into the sea. It’s a metaphor for me as I age, for accepting my life as it is even though I couldn’t have the children I longed for. It’s a little bit of peace in the chaos. It’s perfect in it’s imperfection.

Meriel, 2022