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|A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton|
by Paul K Lyons
21 - Patrick's Shelter, RotoVision's Nudes, City Penguins - and a Regency treasure
On the north side of Western Road there's a variety of eating place and estate agents, but 50 years ago, a motor car agents called Moore was selling Jaguars here; and almost next door was Oxo Ltd, and Q Library. Moving on a block, there's Sheridan House on the north side. This is home to various firms, not least RotoVision, founded in Switzerland over 30 years ago, but located in the UK since 1996. RotoVision says it is recognised as 'the publisher of excellence in the visual arts', and that 'the unique RotoVision proposition is that the same rigorously perfectionist textual and visual standards are applied to the design and production of the books as to their content'. Recent publications include 'The World's Top Photographers: Nudes' and the less interesting-sounding 'Digital Illustration - A Masterclass in Creative Image-making'.
Behind Sheridan House, on Cambridge Road, is St Patrick's Church, built in 1859 in the Old English style with Kent ragstone. One cold winter's night 20 years ago, the true story goes, the church priest, Father Alan Sharpe, let two people, homeless and hungry, spend the night in his church. Thereafter, helping the homeless became such an important mission for him that in 1999 the church was remodelled and half the area was transformed into a hostel and night shelter. Now, the shelter is open seven days a week and provides not only emergency overnight beds, but dinner, breakfast, washing and laundry facilities, as well as help and advice.
Over on the other side of Western road is one of those near-extinct entities - a small independent bookseller. City Books doesn't have the most enticing of window displays, with two plain old orange signs saying simply 'Penguin Books'. But a closer look reveals the owner must have good connections in the publishing industry, for there are many books bunched together with stickers saying 'signed copies'. Authors with books in this bunch include Julian Clary, Eric Sykes, Peter Carey, Irvine Welsh, and Pelé (oh no - Pelé's book just sports a £5 off sticker!). Also in this block are the Buy2Win convenience store, the Real Patisserie, Forfars Sussex Bakery, Jade Chinese restaurant, Florian the florists, and several estate agents, such as Platinum which advertises itself as offering 'Real homes, Real Lifestyle'.
Brunswick Place is the next street to cross Western Road. But on my left (down to the sea), there are only three houses on either side, before Brunswick Place gives way to Brunswick Square, one of Brighton and Hove's Regency gems. The magnificent four/five storey terraced houses, spreading either side of a central garden that leads down to the sea, are all pale yellow. Everything is painted pale yellow, the elevations, woodwork, drainpipes, balustrades. Only the railings and doors are black. The received wisdom is that the square (and the terraces overlooking the sea) is largely the work of Brighton architects Charles Busby and Amon Wilds. However, John Hoare explains on his website why he thinks George Cheesman might have built the first of the houses in Brunswick Square.
Although occupied by wealthy families through the 19th century, owners began to subdivide after the First World War. Following the Second World War, the houses were in such bad condition that the local authorities considered pulling them all down and rebuilding. This led to a campaign by The Regency Society (which had recently formed) and others, and to Brunswick Square and Brunswick Terrace being given Grade I listing in 1950 and thus long-term protection.
by Paul K Lyons
A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton - along the 450 northing