New Encyclopaedia of Brighton

No self-respecting local historian is without a dog-eared copy of Timothy Carder’s 1990 hit, The Encyclopaedia of Brighton. In twenty years’ time, I hope to be able to write in a similar vein about Rose Collis’s New Encyclopaedia of Brighton which has just been published.

The new book is set out along very similar lines to the original. Topics are presented in alphabetical order, from ‘Abattoirs’ to ‘Zap Club’, with almost everything else inbetween. All of my favourite buildings feature including the Chattri Memorial, Montpelier Villas, Saltdean Lido, No. 87 London Road (the old vicarage) and the Jubilee Library. New England House, the home of Latest Homes magazine, may not be the best looking building in town but it gets a decent mention in a remarkably up to date entry. So many of the entries include extremely recent news like the name of the new Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Cllr Geoff Wells.

Both books include the obligatory lists of Brighton mayors, population numbers and road lengths. The new book, however, includes some thoughtful new entries that didn’t feature previously. For example, Cllr Nimrod Ping (1947-2006) gets a fitting entry of his own as does the Sussex term ‘twittens’ (look it up if you don’t know what it means!). Moshi Moshi even gets a mention as do Bom-Bane’s and Bagelman.

Hove gets an entry of its own in the book but that’s about it. And quite right too. This is a book about Brighton alone. Just because the two towns are connected administratively, they are quite separate places and their differences should be celebrated. They certainly do not have to do everything together. For those interested in Hove, Judy Middleton’s Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade really is the one to buy.

One small criticism is that the Palace Pier is acknowledged as the ‘Brighton Pier’. Whilst it was renamed for shallow marketing reasons, I’m completely with those who boycott the term. Also, Brighton is referred to as a borough when it is a town. Oh, and I saw the North Laine mentioned as the ‘North Laines’. These can be forgiven though.

Rose has done a thorough job in updating what is regarded by many as the definitive book on Brighton and I congratulate her. I can’t recommend it enough to anybody who has any kind of interest in Brighton’s history – and there are a lot of such people out there.