Brighton Timeline

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index

A timeline of events in Brighton's history.

Before 1500

11th Century
Manor owned by Earl Godwin
Norman Conquest
granted to William de Warrenne, William the Conqueror's son-in-law
1260-1340
Gradual loss of over 40 acres of land from below the cliff
1313
Immigrant Fleming fishermen living in the lower town under the cliff become successful enough to build East Street and West Street in the upper town. Ship Street and Middle Street are built at around the same time.
1377
French attack

1500-1599

1513-1514
French attack and retreat
1545
French attack
1558
Block House built, as a fort. Gun Garden battery built at around the same time, along with town gates.
1580
Panic over a Spanish Armada false alarm

1600-1699

1645 to 1655
Encroaching sea destroys a further 22 tenements under the cliff over a period of about ten years
1651
Charles II escapes to France via Brighton, staying overnight, in disguise, on 13th October at an inn in West Street.
1666
Petition to Parliament for poverty relief due to loss of fishing vessels work, due to conflict with the French.
Population circa 3,000
1690
Surrounding parishes ordered to contribute to help the Brighthelmstone poor.

1700-1799

1703
Great storm of Sunday, December 27th 1703 causes damage
1705
Great storm of 11th August 1705 destroys all 113 remaining tenements in the lower town, remains of the land are washed away in the following years – the lower town is then effectively erased from the maps.
1732
Decision to build groynes to protect the upper town against further erosion. Royal brief allows fundraising across England, further fundraising twenty years later for repairs.
1750
Dr. Richard Russell moves to Brighton. Writes about the recuperative effects of seawater, Brighton becomes a destination for people visiting the doctor, and visiting the seafront to take the air. Brighton's economy takes an upturn as the visitors rent rooms and spend money. The town is later promoted as Doctor Brighton.
1783
The Prince of Wales (George IV-to-be) arrives in Brighton and acquires a farmhouse overlooking the Steine, to escape the pressures of his unpopularity in London.
1787
Henry Holland is hired to start turning George's farmhouse into The Marine Pavilion'

1800-1899

1803-08
George has some land around the Marine Pavilion turned into an extravagant domed home for his horses. This building later becomes the Brighton Dome and the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.
1815
Now that his horses are living in a finer palace then he is, George has the Marine Pavilion remodelled and enlarged a second time, now by John Nash. It is fitted with an external shell with an embedded cast-iron frame to support additional extravagant building work and embellishments to eventually become the current Royal Pavilion.
1822
Thomas Read Kemp's workmen start laying out Kemp Town, a Regency-styled property development to the East of Brighton, designed by Charles Busby and Amon Wilde, and built on a consolidation of land inherited by Kemp in 1811. Building work finishes in 1855.
1823
The Royal Suspension Chain Pier is built. The end of the pier allows a boat service to France. It's increasingly realised that the pier itself is being seen as a tourist attraction, which suggests a business case for a more tourism-friendly pier.
1828
St Peter's Church consecrated (foundation stone laid in 1824).
1832
Completion of the current Brighton Town Hall (started in 1830).
1837
London and Brighton Railway Act passed on 15 July 1837
1840
Opening of the Brighton-Shoreham railway line, with a small station building at Brighton.
1841
Completion of the Ouse Valley Viaduct
Completion of the London Road Viaduct
Completion of the new Brighton Station, an Italianate building designed by David Mocatta
The London-to-Brighton railway line opens. The resulting flood of tourists causes Brighton's economy and population to boom.
1844
Queens Road is built as an extension of West Street up to the station. The road requires brick arches to raise the ground level in order to reach the station, but creates a new approach to the station that has a less severe gradient than Trafalgar Street, and is kinder to horses.
1848
St. Paul's Church, West Street, opens.
1850
Brighton Pavilion is sold to Brighton Corporation, partly because Queen Victoria disapproves of the building, and partly because of the new influx of tourists makes it difficult to maintain Royal privacy there.
1866
New West Pier opens, designed by Eugenius Birch, and described as "the finest pier in Britain".
1869
Kemp Town Railway Station opens. The line appears to be motivated as a "spoiler" by the LBSCR to block other potential competing railway routes to London.
Work starts on turning the protective rubble at the base of the seawall into a new road, Madeira Road (now Madeira Drive). This protects the base of the seawall from erosion, making it safer to build near the top. The work also produces Brighton Aquarium.
1872
Opening of Brighton Aquarium, designed by Eugenius Birch.
1874
St. Bartholomews Church opens.
1883
Magnus Volk fits the Pavilion Estate with experimental electric lighting.
Volks Electric Railway opens, designed and built by Volk.
1884
Brighton Bandstand built.
1888
Jubilee Clock Tower built at the bottom of Queens Road, to mark Queen Victoria's Jubilee.
1893
New steel-framed Pavilion and Concert Hall added to the West Pier.
1896
Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway (a.k.a. the "Daddy Long-Legs") opens in November.
Royal Chain Pier destroyed by storm on December. By this time it is already earmarked for demolition once the Palace Pier, its adjacent replacement, is finished.
The same December storm wrecks the new "Daddy Long-Legs" Rottingdean extension to the Volks Railway, only weeks after its opening. The extension and car are repaired and reopen.
1897
Victoria Gardens opens.
1899
The Palace Pier has an opening ceremony (although its building works aren't yet finished).

Twentieth Century

1901
Statue of Queen Victoria, Grand Avenue, Hove.
Erosion defence "groynes" built along the beach, intersecting the Daddy Long-Legs track, permanently ending the service.
Rebuilding of the Market area, including the construction of Brighton's Floral Hall. *
1912
Peace Statue (a.k.a. "The Brighton Angel") erected by the Brighton/Hove boundary.
1922
Brighton War Memorial unveiled.
1934
S.S. Brighton Swimming Stadium opens on West Street – the world's largest covered seawater pool.
1935
The Art Deco-styled Embassy Court block of flats opens on Brighton seafront, containing Britain's first penthouse apartments.
The S.S. Brighton is reinvented as the Brighton Sports Stadium ice rink.
1938
Saltdean Lido opens.
1947
Film "Brighton Rock" released, based on Graham Greene's book, and starring Richard Attenborough.
1957
Factory opens on the Brighton Works site producing Isetta bubblecars. *
1960s
The original Churchill Square Shopping Centre opens.
1969
Release of Richard Attenborough's film "Oh What A Lovely War", based on locations along Brighton seafront (Palace Pier and Brighton Bandstand)
1978
Brighton Marina opens in 1978, with an official opening in 1979.
1979
Film "Quadrophenia" released, with major scenes set in Brighton
1984
The IRA bomb The Grand Hotel, in an attempt to assassinate the then PM, Margaret Thatcher.
1994
Brighton Fishing Museum opens
1997
Brighton and Hove councils combine to form the Brighton & Hove Unitary Authority.
1998
Churchill Square Shopping Centre reopens in its current (covered) form.

Twenty-First Century

2001
Brighton & Hove officially becomes a city.
2002-2004
West Pier Concert Hall partially collapses Dec-Jan 2002/3, two arson attacks during 2003, Concert Hall total collapse in 2004.
2005
Jubilee Library opens
Max Miller statue erected in Pavilion Gardens.
2011
Brighton Wheel opens, as a temporary attraction.
2013
Refurbishment of The Level.
2016
Brighton Wheel removed and the i360 viewing tower, designed by Marks Barfield, opens to the public.
Snow Dog sculptures displayed around Brighton.
2017
Saltdean Lido reopens.
2018
Volks Electric Railway reopens after a year closed for renovations and the building of a new Volks Visitor Centre.
Astoria Theatre demolished.