Level Restoration

‘Memory Day’ on Saturday 29th September will see artefacts, newspaper clippings, photographs and, indeed, memories collected from local residents to celebrate the history of the Level in Brighton, which is soon to undergo a major renovation.

My own memories of the Level, as a student living just off Elm Grove, were not entirely positive. I would often walk across this grim public space on my way into town and generally found it to be unwelcoming and grimy. The dark tree-lined border with the Lewes Road seemed particularly unsafe and nothing like the grand continental boulevard that it could be with the right lighting. That was twelve years ago and little has changed. A refurbishment is well overdue.

If all goes to plan, work will start in October on a grand project that will involve both restoring and remodelling. I particularly like the idea of the reintroduction of symmetry to the southern areas of the park, and the rejuvenation of the Rose Walk. Best of all appears to be an innovative water feature within the children’s area that will use both the original boating lake and its two bridges for an entirely new purpose. The list of improvements is long and is available for perusal at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/thelevel.

The project has not been without hiccups along the way. Planning permission was granted to move the skate park into the centre of the Level but the idea was opposed by thousands of residents for quite sound reasons. A gorgeous skate park is proposed though, which I hope to review once its concrete has set.

Cricket is often mentioned in the history of the Level and it is said to have been played there since the middle of the 18th century. The Level was formally laid out in 1822 by Amon Henry Wilds (architect of Park Crescent and Hanover Crescent nearby, along with many other famous local compositions) and Henry Phillips (the renowned landscape gardener). Some of Brighton’s oldest residents may remember the boating lake being constructed in 1927.

Whilst it is unlikely that many will recall that year, others will certainly have all kinds of other memories of the Level or items of memorabilia that those with a passion for the area would find fascinating. Please do share them.

Memory Day is being held on Saturday 29th September from 10am to 4pm in the Local History Centre at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.