- This article is about the English town of Brighton. For other uses see Brighton (disambiguation)
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles contains the first mention of a settlement in the area at Beorthelm's-tun (the town of Beorthelm). It remained a small fishing village up until the 18th century by which time it was known as 'Brighthelmstone'. Brighthelmstone began to change in 1753 when Dr Richard Russell of Lewes published his thesis on sea bathing, which proclaimed the benefit to health of the salt water of Brighton. He set up house there and before long, the rich and the sick had started to make their way to the seaside. By 1780, development of the Regency terraces had started and the town quickly became the fashionable resort of Brighton. The growth of the town was further encouraged when, in 1786, the young Prince Regent later King George IV, rented a farmhouse in order to escape from public life. Eventually he spent much of his leisure time in the town and constructed the exotic-looking Royal Pavilion, which is the town's best-known landmark. The Kemp Town estate (at the heart of the Kemptown district) was constructed between 1823 and 1855, and is a good example of Regency architecture.
In Brighton, the area occupied by the original fishing village has become The Lanes - a collection of narrow alleyways now filled with a mixture of antique shops, restaurants, bistros and pubs. (Although the 'Lanes' are actually derived from 'Laine', which was apparently an old unit of Anglo-Saxon field measurement.) In Hove, peace and tranquillity fills the wide boulevards, creating a welcome retreat from the bustle of Brighton. Hove is seen by some as a more desirable location and it is often referred to by locals as "Hove actually". This is because when a questioner asks a Hove resident whether they live in Brighton, they are reputedly met with the response "No, Hove actually!". Brighton is also a well known conference centre. In the early hours of October 12th 1984 an IRA bomb exploded in the Grand Hotel where leading members of the governing Conservative Party were staying. Four people were killed in the blast (including Sir Anthony Berry), and another subsequently died of her injuries. The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, narrowly escaped injury, although members of her Government were injured - most notably Norman Tebbit. However, no member of the cabinet was killed.
The city has a large gay community and it is home to two universities, the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton. It is sometimes known as 'London by the Sea' because of its lively atmosphere and cosmopolitan nature and also because of the large number of visitors from London. In the summer, thousands of young students from all over Europe gather in Brighton to attend language courses there.
Brighton is considered a radical town due to the large numbers of political movements and activities, for instance SchNEWS. It also has a reputation as a chilled-out relaxed attitude locally referred to as being lunched-out. Brighton is renowned for its lively music scene and has a number of record labels based there, including Skint records, LOCA_Records, Kayotix, Catskills and others.
Brighton is renowned for its large number of bars - you can drink in a different bar on each day of the year. The city has over fifty churches, so you can repent your drunken sins in a different one every week of the year.
A large and well-stocked second hand bookshop was for thirty years run by Noel Brookes at 12A, Queen's Road. In the year 2002, he retired and his shop had to be closed. However, there are several other second hand bookstores, mainly in the North Laine district.
The Palace Pier (renamed Brighton Pier in 2000) opened in May 1899 and is still popular. It suffered a large fire on 4 February 2003 but the damage was limited and most of the pier was able to reopen the next day.
The even older West Pier, built in 1866, has been closed since 1975 awaiting renovation. The West Pier is one of only two Grade I listed piers in the UK, the other being Clevedon Pier. Plans to renovate the pier have been opposed by some local residents who claim that the proposed new onshore structures - which the renovators need, to pay for the work on the pier - would obstruct their view of the sea. The restoration is also opposed by the owners of the Brighton Pier, who reportedly see its subsidised rebuilding, were it to happen, as unfair competition.
The West Pier partially collapsed on December 29, 2002 when a walkway connecting the concert hall and pavilion fell into the sea after being battered by storms. On January 20, 2003 a further collapse saw the destruction of the concert hall in the middle of the pier. On March 28, 2003 the pavilion at the end of the pier caught fire. Firefighters were unable to save the building from destruction because of the precarious state of the walkway. The cause of the fire remains unknown. Following the March 28 fire, the West Pier Trust reiterated: "The Trust ... are determined that nothing will prevent the start of the restoration within the next 12 months." Then on May 12, 2003, another fire broke out, consuming most of what was left of the concert hall. Arson was suspected. On June 23, 2004 high winds caused the middle of the pier to completely collapse. As of June 2004 all that remains of the building is the original cast iron frame: the restoration effort continues though the Trust's response to the latest collapse has not yet been made public.
References to Brighton in literature