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.
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.
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’ 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 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.
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’ 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.
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.
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.
Until last summer, Middle Street had been home (in one way or another) for about 15 years. My mum, Dee, bought a flat here in 2006 in a new development as it had been her dream to live in central Brighton.
The front gate of the building faced the Hippodrome (whose multi coloured stain glass facade I would admire often) and as she would later find out, the built on the site of an old mineral water factory for ‘R Fry and Co’.
Mum had many different careers, but her work as a writer had been a constant. She devastatingly got diagnosed suddenly with terminal cancer 8 years ago and was given not very long to live. Whatever project she was working on, she would get totally absorbed and obsessed. In the last few years she dedicated her time to local history and very specifically that of Middle Street. ‘One of the earliest streets of Brighton’ she would tell me.
She was passionate about recording all of the stories for this street. Which is quite unassuming on the surface, caught between the racier West St and more well treaded tourist route of East Street. She set about working out the full history of every single building and their many reincarnations. She emassed multiple notebooks, sent many hours in the archives and compiled first hand interviews (including with the Rabbi at the Synagogue to old landlords and performers from the venues). There were also multiple hand drawn maps and layouts she’d created in pen and pencil on tracing paper – where she had meticulously started to piece together it’s history from the very beginning. I remember getting an email when she was excited as she’d stumbled across the holiday let online where we’d hear all the noisy stag and hen dos disappear into, and she was able to get a peak behind those doors. Another bit of her puzzle!
… But one of the top things on her bucket list, when we found out she didn’t have long, was make sure she was able to hand over all her research, so it didn’t go to waste.
So a couple of weeks before she passed a local historian whom she admired, visited and collected it to take it for safekeeping at the local arrive at ‘The Keep’ Falmer. It is all there, if you would like a read!
Her plan was to write a book and also do a walking tour during the Brighton Festival (she’d also done stand up – it would have been great!), so hopefully this will be a small tribute to all of her hard work.
I’ve many fond memories from living on this street. Multiple hours spent in The Hop Poles – which basically became a surrogate family lounge and kitchen for my mum, brother and me – and where I’d end up meeting some my dearest friends behind the bar. Dancing together at Wild Fruit at Creation (which has just been knocked down – and you can see the gigantic space its left – as is reinvents itself again).
Wandering down to the beach with a blanket and some beers to watch the sunset, the novelty of having the sea at the end of the road never wearing off. Or watching the starlings murmerate around the spire of St Peters Church on West St, at the start of each winter. You can also spy the yeti her friend painted on the BT box on the corner near Middle Street school for her…
One of my favourites from the images she shared with me, was of these elephants walking down Middle Street (date unknown). Promoting the circus at the Hippodrome and stretching their legs between performances.
The thought of elephants walking down there, blows my mind. I love all the stories the Hippodrome could tell by itself.
She always said that one of the most important things in life was to ‘be curious’. And when I walk down Middle Street now, it reminds me of just that and her love for Brighton. All you can find under your nose, if you just go looking!
Lisa’s story about Middle Street 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.
Dyke road park is mainly seen from the road and looks like a collection of tennis courts, formal gardens and a kids playground, they all hide the field at the back. There’s nothing particularly exciting about the field, it is similar to other parks in Brighton, but it offers a brilliant view of the sea from its position perched high on the hill. It feels a world away from the traffic and busy road that sits meters away. And frequently it provided a quiet spot when the city filled up with holiday makers at the height of summer. No matter where I’ve lived in Brighton this park was my local park.
On the edge of the field is a little cluster of trees that have offered shade for endless gatherings. They are a popular spot, with little groups of humans all occupying a little circle of shade. This spot gets the sun the longest, drawing out the daylight to the very last moments before it goes down behind the large trees on the far edge of the park. When I first met my partner we spent a summer under those trees eating picnic food and drinking cheap fizzy wine. When we moved a little closer, it became our garden, the outdoor space that our flat did not provide. During the Covid lockdown it was a place we’d go to distract ourselves, trying, with very little knowledge, to identify the birds. There were so many species, sharing the city, that we’d previously failed to notice. It was the venue of choice for surprise birthday parties on late summer days. And when our time in Brighton was coming to an end it was the place we chose to say goodbye to our friends.
Saltdean seafront is my playground, it’s where I walk my dog, swim, paddle board, snorkel, surf, run and cycle. Sometimes I hear people say ‘soon be summer’ but I embrace all the weather that’s thrown at me on this stunning stretch of coastline on the edge of Brighton. The rough stormy seas, the calm seas, the driving wind and rain, the glorious sunrise and sunset, the sea foam and the flooded undercliff. It’s a year round gem. The sunrises are exceptional during the winter months. There’s always something to photograph and I enjoy sharing photos of my experiences on Brighton Skies Facebook group. I view Saltdean from every angle, from the top of the cliffs, under the chalk cliffs, on the beach or in the sea. I love the view of Saltdean from the sea looking towards the shore and at the city in the distance, also looking down under the water at the sea life below me.
I’ve been in Brighton for 8 years but I never tire of being near the sea. I feel like it draws me in. As a child I adored the seaside, and scrapping about in rockpools at low tide was one of my favourite things to do. I remember my Dad lifting up what seemed like impossibly heavy stones in the deepest part of the rockpools so I could see what little sea creature would be hiding beneath – usually a crab that I would delight in following around until it scurried away into a new hiding place.
I think this is why my favourite place to go in Brighton is the Ovingdean rockpools. I love that whole stretch of the Undercliff walk from the Marina to Saltdean and the cliff top path that runs above it. But my favourite part of the route is seeing the white chalky rockpools at low tide. I feel like I’m in another world when I stare into the pools, full of tiny marine creatures that washed in with the tide and will soon be collected by the waves at high tide and carried away again. It’s a place that mesmerises me, and feeds my imagination.
In the lockdown I would cycle there, lugging my heavy tripod and 16mm camera with me so I could film the pools and the waves beyond. I think I was trying to capture snippets of the sea to take back home and keep.
Rachels’ story about the rockpools at Ovingdean 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.
I adore the skies looming over the fantastic view of Brighton from Hollingbury Hill Fort. The shimmering moody sea with the Brighton city skyline below looking down from a birds eye view. She keeps watch over the city and surrounding soft hills of the South Downs at the edge of The National Park. It is a magical place over 2000 yers old, filled with wildflowers and yellow sprays of gorse; an enclave surrounded by a moat, now a circular flint splintered walkway.
I often imagine what life would have been like up there, surveying the panoramic views nestled behind the ramparts. The hustle and bustle of life, laughter, the smell of smoke, iron ore from the woods, food on the fires, straw and the musky scent of livestock mingling with folk music, braying, laughing, singing, ringing in my ears.
Now dog walkers, golfers, tweeters and the like wander around and stop the appreciate the magnificent view spanning from East Brighton park, the Hospital, past Hove to the Isle of Wight along the south down way at Ditchling Beacon, The Chacttri monument standing proud to Stanmer Park along with views of the Newhaven and beyond and back.
It truly is breathtaking. Like breath of fresh air and a serene break from the hustle and bustle of our vibrant city whilst nestling close by just on the edge. Up there the sound of the wind sweeps and ancient hawthorn mingles with bird song, crooked crows caw to drown the sound of the odd seagull and the rustling of voles and rabbits stir, beneath, sometimes circled by majestic Buzzards, fitting for such a place.
Many stories have been told around the campfires under the full moon rising and many a tale to tell, handed down by ancestors to generations and offering up inspiration for new ones. All of us in appreciation of the gently rolling downs, serene and stormy sea views and splendour of this place. Watching over Brighton and all its glorious energy and light reflecting deep blue sea, skies and flint back into our glistening awestruck eyes.
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’ 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.
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.
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.
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’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.
I attach a photograph of myself, my mum and my aunt taken in 1962 in the Preston Park Rookery. Although better known now as The Rockery, in those days the trees at the top of the garden were filled with large nests and the rooks were very loud!
We’re wearing our Sunday best clothes in the photo as the Rookery was felt at that time to be one of the ‘posh’ places in Brighton, suitable for visiting as a special treat. My aunt had come from Littlehampton and we spent a long time travelling from our home in Moulsecoomb on public transport, a difficult journey to make in 1962 so we didn’t do it often. I was so excited to walk across the big stepping stones and, as I got a bit older, to be allowed to climb up the rocky path to find the source of the waterfall. It was a real joy to gaze over at Preston Park across the road from the high bridge spanning the grassy hill.
I’m now 63 and lucky enough to live within walking distance of todays Rockery. The rooks are much fewer but the garden is as beautiful as ever. Somehow over the years it has remained the quieter sister to the noisy park on the other side of the road. Across the 60 years I’ve visited whenever I had a hard decision to make, to cheer me up when sad or for a quiet celebration. Ten years ago dad and I sponsored a bench at the side of the pond near the waterfall in honour of my mum. I often go there to sit on it and enjoy the peace, even in the winter. The dragonflies are beautiful in the summer and the goldfish are greedy all year! Every spring I marvel at the giant gunnera leaves growing up anew from almost nothing and remember how I used to play hide and seek under them when I was young. Occasionally there are parents with small children who seem as captivated as I was then and I love to see their enthusiasm!
The garden has been a truely magical place for me my whole life and I hope by raising its profile others will come to value it’s quiet charm for many years to come.
Karen’s story about the Preston Park Rookery 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 place I’m choosing is Extra Mural Cemetery, Lewes Road.
I moved to Brighton 10 years ago (time flies in this city), I moved to the top of Hartington Road and at the time there was a gap in the fence, I could go inside the green space of the cemetery and relax a bit, listening to the birds and watching the foxes running around.
We used to laugh about how good and quiet the neighbours were.
A year later I moved to London Road, no green spaces by my home to relax and watch birds or foxes, just busy roads. Lucky me at that time they were remodelling The Open Market and this was the best place to make the shopping, in fact I still do it and wouldn’t change it.
But, as it couldn’t be otherwise I moved again; this time to Gladstone Place, at the bottom of the Extra Mural Cemetery, just in between the 2 gates, no gaps in the fence now. So I started to go there for my walk more and more often. To forget about the city, to forget about the cars. It felt strange at the beginning to be that comfortable in such a place, but the truth is that it is a gorgeous place full of trees and nature. I found my favourite spots and some nice benches too.
But then, I had to move again. Now I live in Bear Road. So funny I’ve been having the same neighbours since I move to Brighton and I never had a complaint! Neither do they!
It is true that the cemetery is not far from the road, and that it is a manmade space, but the circle of life becomes such a beauty in this spot of our city, the ancient holly trees, the roots breaking the stones, the little purple flowers in every sunny corner, the seagulls and crows battling each other, the foxes jumping the walls.
When I have visitors, usually from Spain (where the cemeteries are completely different to this one), and I said I’m going to take them to the cemetery, they all look at me, perplexed, then they understand and enjoy the trail and the hidden spots.
Ainoa’s story about the Extra Mural Cemetery 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.