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

Secret Garden

Hidden behind old flint walls at the northern end of Preston Park is the enchanting ‘secret’ garden of Preston Manor. It’s a little haven of tranquility packed full with exotic plants and flowers to explore or just sit on one of the benches to contemplate and admire. In Spring I love to visit the glorious laburnum tunnel and sit under huge ancient magnolia trees. There’s a lily pond which attracts dragonflies, colourful and exquisite plants all year round and a pet cemetery. I’ve lived in Brighton for over 20 years, a ten minute walk from my home, this is my place to go to enjoy the beauty of nature, breathe in the air and restore my soul. 

Many thanks to all the volunteers and gardeners who keep this space so special.

Jo, 2022

Quiet Regency Grandeur

Powis Square

Nestled in a juncture between Seven Dials, Montpelier and Clifton, Powis Square feels like an envelope that time forgot. A tiny square with a garden and trees sits, almost always empty, calm and peaceful, undiscovered by tourists and even locals alike. The surrounding regency houses are as grand as those in Brunswick Square but the enclosure gives a feel of a late Georgian London. It is hard to believe that somewhere so tranquil and otherworldly is less than 10 minutes walking distance from Brighton train station, the hustle and bustle of, respectively, Western Road, North Laine, Seven Dials, and the seafront. If you are lucky enough to live in one of the flats here (I am one of the lucky!) those living on the upper floors are treated to both sea views and views over the South Downs.

This square must be Brighton’s best-kept secret, shhh! 

Larry, 2022


Couple of my favourite places to visit and spend time in are the Racehill Community Orchard and Brighton Permaculture Trust’s ‘Plot’ in Stanmer Park.

Both places are run for the benefit of the local community. The Racehill Orchard has over 200 fruit trees which are grown for anyone and everyone to enjoy. I like to spend most Sundays there. Fresh air, lovely people and a haven for wildlife. 

The Plot in Stanmer Park is a tranquil little oasis of calm. A permaculture garden which is run for all inclusive, educational and volunteer activities. Again, fresh air, trees and lovely folk. 

Maybe see you there sometime. 

H, 2022

The Terrace

My favourite place in Brighton has to be Clifton Terrace. I grew up there in the 70s and 80s as my parents owned a Bed and Breakfast. It’s a great location; near shops, near the sea, near the station and a cycle ride to the Downs. It’s also fabulously historical with its white regency facades and well kept gardens. My parents have an old black and white photo showing a water hand pump at one end and a man with a top hat and cane walking along the pavement.

The B and B back then was packed in the summer with people from all over the country and the world. I remember Arabs coming to stay for weeks and shopping in Marks and Spencers buying piles of clothes. I remember families coming back year after year and having summer holiday friends. I loved athletics and would use the flat Terrace to practice 100 m sprints. The garden opposite was a haven where I would crouch in the bushes playing hide and seek with my brothers. My parents still live in the Terrace and my heart and mood is always uplifted when I visit, because it’s such a beautiful place with happy memories.

Anita, 2022

Sailing Club Sounds

Join Vicky for the rythmic chiming of the Sailing Club

For anyone Cornish living the ‘wrong’ side of the Tamar, it takes a special place to make you feel at home beyond the motherland. But in my 16 years in Brighton so far, there’s a very specific spot on the seafront that I return to time after time that leaves me feeling like the city is wrapping its arms around me. I bet some of you know it by ear… Between the two piers, queued up by Brighton Sailing Club and pointed wistfully out to sea, is a stretch of boats. Stripped of their sails their rigging whip against their masts incessantly, generating a cloud of rhythmic chiming reminiscent of a flock of hungry seagulls loitering impatiently outside a chip shop. I enjoy it most in the height of summer on a warm, violet-skied evening with the added percussion of the basketball court behind me – flood lit limbs and beer cans and the squeak of a shoe, loud laughter and traffic all joining in the chorus. City living by the sea is what I was promised all those years ago, and Brighton always delivers.

Victoria, 2022

Victoria’s story about this part of Brighton Seafront 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.

Bunker Hunter

Whitehawk Hill

Once a Neolithic earthwork many thousands of years ago, my history with the place goes back to the ’60s when my mum lived on the estate at the foot of the hill. The views are magnificent, the sea to the south, and the South Downs national park jacketing the cities estates and communities to the north, east and west.

I used to walk on Whitehawk hill a lot. It was sometimes my route to school, and on every bank holiday, we’d visit the market that turned up with all the things I never knew I needed, and couldn’t afford. The transmitter at the top beamed all my favourite TV shows of the ’80s into our flat on the Bristol Estate. We watched a Red Arrow crash into the sea one humid summers day. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

I once spent an afternoon after school with friends searching for an old nuclear bunker that we’d heard was hidden somewhere on the hill. I found out many years later, the bunker had been decommissioned long before our failed search.

Whenever I visit the hill now, I feel connected to the place I lived longest in my life. We recently scattered my nan and mum’s ashes, overlooking the place they spent most of their lives.

Curtis, 2022

Murmuration Addict

I only visit my favourite place between November and March, and only when the tide is low and the sea is flat. It’s a little rocky ledge at the base of the Albion Groyne, the stone jetty just to the west of the Palace Pier. It gives the clearest views of the starlings who dance their crazy patterns every winter’s night before roosting beneath the pier. The ledge is only a few inches above beach level but it’s high enough for people to walk past in front of you without blocking your view. 

The murmurations are, to my mind, the best show in town and it’s surprising the number of people in Brighton who have never seen one. Personally, I’m addicted. I’m there most winter nights, weather and work permitting, twenty minutes before the sun goes down readying my tripod to film them in the hope that a peregrine falcon will share my interest. For the starlings to create their tightest balls of frenzy in the sky usually takes the intervention of a bird of prey. It doesn’t happen often, maybe 5 times a year, and when it does the peregrine more often than not leaves empty handed, or clawed. 

Throughout lockdown, a group of fellow starling fans would meet on the beach every day, standing in a socially distanced row along the shore. I owe my sanity in those times to the starlings, and to my little ledge. 

Alex, 2022

Fish Paste Sandwiches

My favourite walk from the Devils Dyke down to Fulking is full of memories. One is going from the Devils Dyke to Chanctonbury Ring with some done on the back of a pony. The walk to the Shepherd and Dog pub with my parents was a chance to run way way ahead of them and pretend I was on my own.

Everything was an adventure to me as a child: I imagined fairies hiding in the grass, made up stories in my head about children from a bygone age coming back to life and showing me the caves in which they lived (years later when I became a children’s author I never used that one but I’m sure that my imagination took root on the South Downs and by the sea in Sussex).

In my childhood days the Shepherd and Dog was a far more basic pub than it is today and I didn’t go inside.

My father would go in and bring me out a soft drink but never ever a bag of crisps as I remember.

All the food came from a picnic bag of enormous size. When going to the seaside this bag would contain fish paste sandwiches, Battenburg cake, a piece of fruit and a flask of tea. However when going on a Downland walk all I can remember are the scones and jam. Whether the Shepherd and Dog in those days served them or whether my mother pre-packed them I cannot remember. What I do remember is the climb back up the hill to the Devils Dyke Hotel which in those days again was much less fancy than it is today. I do remember my legs aching by the time we got home!

I do so wish the blackberry bushes on the road by Saddlescombe Farm were still there – indeed there may be a few left but the last time I went to inspect you couldn’t access that stretch of Downland because it was blocked off and somehow the bushes seemed so much smaller than they did in 1950!

Rosie, 2022

The Three Cornered Copse

As a child in the 1950s living in Woodland Avenue in Hove, the Three Cornered Copse was at once a place of excitement and dread! There was always the worry that there might be a monster hiding behind one of the trees; there was always the risk of tripping over the numerous tree roots across the paths but there was also the excitement of pretending to be one of The Famous Five on an adventure.

Walking through the Copse on my own was forbidden because my Mother would say that there were “strange types“ from time to time – but I would run ahead of my parents, devise all sorts of stories in my head and play them out.

Then you emerged from the Copse onto the sward of green grass which is now overlooked by the houses of Hillbrow to which we moved in 1959. The game changed there into handstands, roly-poly down the hill or, in the summer, making daisychains.

The next bit of the walk took us across the Dyke Road and down towards the windmill whose name I have forgotten.

That was the place for games of French cricket, which as an only child had to be adapted to allow for my parents rules! When I go back to visit Hove now I am sad that the old road to the Windmill is no more, or rather it is there but never used but as a driver I welcome the new road!

Rosie, 2022

A Very Un-English Thing

My favourite place in Brighton is the Royal Pavilion, it’s so eccentric and camp. I love that King George IV decided to build a beautiful oriental palace in an English seaside town, it’s a very un-English thing for a king to do! It’s a great meeting place and feels like the heart of the town somehow, representing frivolity and fun. The gardens are beautifully kept and there are lots of secret corners to have a picnic in summer.

Katherine, 2022

Proper Brighton

My favourite place in Brighton is the railway bridge over Lewes Road at Moulsecoomb. When I was a child in the 1960s we used to stay with my granny. She taught at the Infant School, so as a key worker and a widow she and her son (my father) had been allocated one of the first houses built on the estate, in Southall Avenue. Forty years later, I loved playing on the grass of The Avenue which seemed to me as green as the lawns in a Ladybird book. And, excitingly, we used to walk under the railway bridge to reach the Wild Park. I’d look forward to shouting and hearing the huge echo. I taught my little brother to do this too – the two of us hollering plus his feet banging on his metal pushchair made a satisfying, parent-defying din! My father did use the opportunity to point out how huge and strong the bridge had to be: I’ve had a fascination for engineered structures ever since. When I travel to Brighton now, going under the bridge is the signal that I’m in ‘proper Brighton’.

Jenny, 2022