Western Terrace

It’s all too easy to miss the buildings above shops but it’s just as easy to miss the buildings on adjoining streets, just metres away, too.

Western Road took its name from a family of local landowners, the Westerns; as did Western Terrace presumably. It is the delightful cul-de-sac opposite Waitrose where the rule is certainly quality, not quantity. A terrace of five stuccoed houses on the west side of the road was built in about 1827 and forms a delightful set-piece. It was designed by the famous local architect, Amon Henry Wilds, and features his trademark Ammonite capitals. Gothic House, also known as ‘The Priory’, ‘Priory Lodge’ and, by many, ‘the old Debenhams building’ sits on the corner of Western Road and Western Terrace. It was designed by Wilds and another local architect, Charles Augustin Busby, and built in 1822-5.  The whole street is Grade II Listed except the Grade II* Listed Oriental-style Western Pavilion, built for Wilds as his own home.

Gothic House was converted into a shop in 1898 for Sharmar’s drapery emporium. By 1920, most of the Western Terrace houses were used as the shop’s storerooms. In around 1961, the mansion behind Western Terrace, Sillwood House, (also by Wilds), was added to the complex and used as a warehouse. The delightful Western Pavilion was even commercialised. Only the old coach house, 8 Western Terrace at the bottom of the road, seems to have escaped. It is well know that Debenhams eventually relocated to Churchill Square but not many know about the amazing transformation of the terrace back into houses by Regan Construction, a local family business.

John Regan and his three sons, Dennis, Desmond and David, saw to it that the houses were painstakingly restored back to their almost original splendour. I say ‘almost’ because it’s often the case when restoring buildings that non-original features are required to be preserved too. After that, they took on the massive task of sympathetically turning Sillwood House into flats and building a rather fitting new block on Montpelier Road.

Old Alliance & Leicester adverts show Numbers 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 being for sale. Due to a strange system of renumbering, however, the houses became 4, 5, 6, 7 and 7a. The coach house actually became No. 8 but, to confuse things further, it appears as No. 8a on Brighton & Hove City Council’s list of Listed Buildings.