A trip to the seaside! That's what Brighton has been to
for generations, along with other
Sussex seaside towns such as Eastbourne, Hastings and Bexhill-on-Sea. Brighton itself is the largest
city in Sussex, and is a centre for tourism, music and alternative thinking. Further along the coast
the seaside transforms into the great towering chalk cliffs of Beachy Head.
I visited Brighton and the Sussex coast as a day trip from London in 2010, for the first time in over
twenty years, since coming down here as a child. It happened to be on the same day as the London
to Brighton Mini Rally, as I came to realise on my drive down, not least because every lay-by was occupied
by handfuls of conked-out Minis.
Brighton Pier epitomises all that's British about a trip to the seaside, with puppet shows, potted whelks,
candy floss, slot machines, fish, chips and borderline kamikaze seagulls. Its full name is Brighton
Marine Palace and Pier, but since the West Pier was closed in the 1970s the distinction between
piers hasn't really been necessary.
The ruined hulk of the West Pier still sits in the English Channel for all to see, it operated for over
one hundred years before closing in 1975. Although restoration has continuously been on the cards
since then, it has been mired by misfortune with four partial collapses and two fires all between 2002 and 2005.
The Grand Hotel on the Brighton sea front has been one of the fanciest hotels in town since it was built
by the Victorians. In 1984 it was the scene of an assassination attempt on the UK Prime Minister,
by a time bomb set three weeks earlier. The hotel faces the ruined West Pier.
Brighton's Royal Pavilion is perhaps the city's most famous building, built in an
seems quite out of place in a British seaside town. However it was designed during the age of empires,
and that just happened to be in vogue at the time.
A close-up of one of the Indian style domes atop the Royal Pavilion.
Pristine posh white town houses in eastern Brighton, towards the Marina area.
These townhouses are on Lewes Crescent. I really like this style of wedding cake architecture.
Further along the coast I stopped at Telscombe Cliffs for a short wander, and realised I'd landed right
on the spot where the Prime Meridian leaves the south coast of England. The marker at the top left
shows the arbitrary point where from which all time and longitude worldwide is measured, and where the Eastern
and Western hemispheres meet.
Even mightier cliffs can be seen at Beachy Head, just west of Eastbourne, where the English Channel
is cutting into the chalk. Unfortunately the sea fog was rolling in by this point so it was harder
to get some decent shots.
The cliffs at Beachy Head rise to 162 metres, making them amongst the highest in Britain. The surrounding
grassy plain ends very abruptly, almost like it's been bitten off.
A very unfortunate consequence of the height of the cliffs is the suicide rate they attract, which along
with the Clifton Suspension Bridge in
Bristol is the highest in the UK.
Only the Golden Gate Bridge in
attracts more jumpers.