50th Anniversary 1970s
One of the first major schemes that concerned us was the Wilson Womersley Plan which, in the mid-1960s, proposed an elevated motorway from Preston Circus across North Laine to a multi-storey car park in Church Street. This involved the demolition of 700 houses in the Preston Circus and North Laine areas. The RIBA supported the scheme as they considered that only four buildings in North Laine, now a thriving community and a Conservation Area, were worth saving. Fortunately, government policies changed and wholesale demolition of homes was no longer acceptable.
In 1974 we published a leaflet, Brighton Going?, which provided details of the many buildings that were under threat of demolition. A further publication was The Craftsmen & Materials for the Care of Old Houses which provided advice on the restoration of houses.
We opposed the Department of the Environment’s A27 Brighton By-Pass proposals and called for an improvement to public transport and restraint on the use of cars in the town centre.
We were successful in getting the Preston Road and the Lewes Road Viaducts listed. It was hoped to see the latter as a walkway across the town but it was subsequently demolished to make way for a Sainsbury’s supermarket.
The listed Percy & Wagner Almshouses at the bottom of Islingword Road, were in poor condition – and it was proposed that the whole terrace should be demolished. We were successful in getting the Department of the Environment to refuse listed building consent for demolition that the council had approved. This prevented the imminent demolition of the terrace, which subsequently underwent extensive restoration.
We helped to launch a ‘Save the West Pier Campaign’. The Society was supported by the Victorian Society and the Royal Fine Art Commission.
We worked with the Black Rock Action Group to save Black Rock Swimming Pool and to get it listed. The buildings had become extremely derelict and the Council said that the pool had major leakage problems which would be very costly to repair. It was strongly contended at the time that the heavy construction work on the adjacent Marina works had caused the leakage in the pool. Most of the buildings were demolished in 1978.
In 1975 the Council was proposing to develop an area north of Church Street to build a new town hall and civic centre with a library, swimming pool, offices and residences. Following the fashion at the time, it was a brutalist design. The buildings opposite the museum in Church Street would have all been demolished. The Brighton Society opposed the various schemes put forward over the years and the Jubilee Street scheme was eventually dropped by the Council in 1985. By this time the area had become much neglected and consequently was used as temporary car parks for decades.