The architectural heritage of Brighton is not only visible above ground
in its regency squares, the Royal Pavilion palace, its piers, etc., it
is also to be found underground in its magnificent Victorian sewers.
In the summer months you can even go on a guided tour of the sewers.
Sewer tourists enter the sewer system through an arch under Brighton
Pier, and exit through a manhole at the edge of the gardens in the Old
Steine. There is a stench, and its best not to suffer from claustrophobia!
The major improvement in the city's Victorian sewerage system occurred
in 1871 with the construction of the main intercepting sewer from Hove
Street (in Hove) to the Portobello outfall at Telscombe Cliffs in the
east, a distance of seven miles. The tunnel is a brick-lined cylindrical
construction, 7 feet in diameter for most of its length.
At the end of the last century Southern Water, who now run the system,
built "Europe's largest stormwater storage tunnel, 4.8km (3 miles)
long, 6m (20ft) in diameter and 30m (100ft) under the seafront at Brighton
and Hove, to stop pollution during storm conditions."
Fancy a Sewer Tour? - click here
The city of Brighton & Hove is actually an amalagamation of three towns.
In the early 70s Hove absorbed its western neighbour , the smaller town
of Portslade, into its town boundary, and in 1997 Brighton and Hove joined
together to form one local government authority. And in 2000 the city of
Brighton & Hove was created. But, of course, the original three towns themselves
grew in the past by absorbing adjacent villages.
Four villages retain some form of identity within the new city boundary.
Portslade Old Village still retains a distinct idenity in Portslade. The
oldest habitable house in the village was built in 1540 and is known as
The best preserved, but also the smallest, is Stanmer Village on the north-eastern
boundary of the city (see photo above). It is an estate village, and has
escaped the fate of having a modern suburb tacked on to its edge. The Stanmer
estate is owned by the city council, and preserved as a country park.
Ovingdean Village in the east of the city is largely unspoilt and surrounded
by farmland. It quietly boasts the oldest building in the city, St Wulfran's
Rottingdean is an ancient village to the east of Ovingdean and on
the coast. It is very attractive and well worth a visit, as are the other
three villages. It is distinctive in that although it was absorbed by
Brighton in 1928, it managed to retain its parish council - limited though
its powers may be.
The Lanes & North Laine
easy for visitors to confuse two of Brighton's shopping districts. One
is called The Lanes and the other is North Laine.
The Lanes is the area of narrow streets and twittens. ('twitten' is a
Sussex dialect word meaning narrow path or alleyway.) roughly bordered
by North Street, Ship Street, Prince Albert Street, and East Street. It
is a part of the old medieval town which has survived into the modern period.
At its centre, though, is Brighton Square, a development of the 1960s.
It is a place of pubs, cafes and small shops. For more on The Lanes, click
North Laine is the area of streets immediately to the north of North
Street. The medieval town of Brighton was bounded by the sea to the south,
and by North Street, East Street and West Street. The arable land (not
including the steepest downland which was used for grazing sheep) around
the town and within the parish of Brighton was divided into five laines,
which were further subdivided. The fives laines were: West Laine, North
Laine, Hilly Laine, Little Laine, and East Laine.
The word 'laine' is of Anglo-Saxon origin meaning 'lease'.
of North Laine were built during the first decades of the nineteenth
century. Today North Laine is a city centre neighbourhood of shopping streets
and residential streets. For more on North laine, click here.