A look at Secret Brighton...

New book Secret Brighton offers a unique insight into the intriguing and eccentric city of Brighton through lesser-known aspects of its history.

Monday, 5th December 2016, 4:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:18 pm
Secret Brighton: The Chain Pier (Courtesy of Brighton Print Collectors)
Secret Brighton: The Chain Pier (Courtesy of Brighton Print Collectors)

The book aims to highlight the history below the surface of Brighton, revealing lesser-known aspects that even most Brightonians don’t know.

Brighton-born author Kevin Newman takes the reader on a fascinating journey through Brighton’s murky past. He tells of the Prince Regent’s numerous trips to the site of what is a council estate today, the little-known plans for Brighton’s hotels and piers in the First World War and reveals which Brightonian multi-million-selling author was once Orson Welles’ house cleaner.

Kevin said: “Secrets are generally things held by individuals, are little known and are things that people don’t want known. This might seem a bizarre topic for a book on Brighton, one of the UK’s seemingly best-known places and a location visited by so many people in such large numbers every year – over ten million per annum still.

Secret Brighton: Palace Pier fire

“However, scratch beneath the surface and Brighton can be a dark, brooding, secretive and mysterious place. Towns at the end of the line always are: there is something exciting about a place where 180 degrees of your option for movement are wet, increasingly deep, dark and dangerous.

“Brighton is also not just a place on the edge. It has sometimes nearly been pushed over the edge. Invaded by Saxons, Vikings and Normans, each of whom left not just their place names but a bloody footprint, Brighton – or Brighthelmstone as it was until 1810 – was nearly wiped off the map by the French, economic downturns and most of all the encroaching waves.

“The sea led to Brighthelmstone being nearly abandoned with 113 buildings washed away in 1665 and dozens more in the early 18th century. Daniel Defoe, who knew a few things about waterside locations, questioned whether the investment needed to pay for coastal defences to save the town was worth spending.

“It was then saved by the same waves, this time however as a substance for the rich to be dunked under, to swim in, promenade beside and even to drink with milk. Dr Richard Russell’s decision to treat his wealthiest patients with his sea cures in his hydro at his nearest low-lying established coastal settlement accelerated the town’s recovery but also the idea of spending time by the seaside. The fact that the first visitors were extensively wealthy meant that the secrets were linked with court intrigues and affairs. The secrecy that wealth could buy meant that from its earliest days Brighton was built as a place of gossip, scandal and intrigue…”

Secret Brighton: the Bedford Hotel

The book has been released by Amberley Publishing.

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Secret Brighton: the Grand Hotel

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