Brighton & Hove Open Door 2009

Nick Tyson and his team at the Regency Town House really have hit the jackpot for local lovers of architecture. And it doesn’t cost a penny!

Heritage Open Days, the national event which facilitates public access to all sorts of fascinating buildings, will be launched in Brighton & Hove this year. The programme runs from 10th-13th September and goes by the name of Brighton & Hove Open Door locally.

Many of the usual favourites are on this year’s list which has been steadily growing over the past 15 years. In Brighton, that means the sewer tour, Embassy Court, Middle Street Synagogue, Montpellier Hall, the Old Ship Hotel and the Sussex Masonic Centre. In Hove, there’s Blatchington Windmill, 33 Palmeira Mansions, and Nick Tyson’s Regency Town House on Brunswick Square. That’s a tiny sample though as there are 155 events scheduled – up from 57 last year. This makes Brighton & Hove’s contribution to the national event the largest.

There are many new venues on the list too. Roedean School opens its doors for the first time as does 37 Kensington Place which comes hotly-tipped by those in the know. Earthship Brighton, a particularly special building in Stanmer Park, has had its doors open before but not as part of this event. My small part was introducing Nick to David Porter who lives in the Clayton Tunnel Cottage above the Brighton to London railway line. It has to be one of the most interesting residences in Sussex.

It’s extremely easy to arrange a visit – go to the Regency Town House website, www.rth.org.uk, or a library to find out how. Some require pre-booking and others are only open at certain times. Checking first is essential. It was in fact a visit to the Town House that helped spark my own personal interest in architecture – it’s unmissable as an example of a serious restoration project in progress.

I’ve just booked tickets to two talks on the Sunday on Eric Lyons and Span hosted by Conran & Partners. They relate, in particular, to Park Gate in Hove, the wonderful 1960s development that’s hidden away on Somerhill Road. I also hope to pop in to some of the events which don’t need to be booked over that weekend.

Brighton & Hove Open Door has become, much like some of the buildings on the list, an institution – and that’s down to Nick and an army of volunteers.