Brighton & Hove
Known locally as 'London by the Sea', Brighton is the largest and most famous seaside resort in Sussex. Hove, by contrast, is quieter and much more refined. The two borough councils were joined together in 1997, with Brighton & Hove officially becoming a city soon afterwards.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book, Brighton was once the fishing village of Brighthelmstone, with a surrounding wall that had been built to protect it from fourteenth-century raids by the French. By the mid-eighteenth century, however, the sea had washed part of Brighthelmstone away and as a result the village was in a fairly run down state.
Brighthelmstone's fortunes changed in 1753 when Dr Russell of Lewes published his thesis on sea bathing, which proclaimed the benefit to health of the salt water. He set up house there and before long, the rich and ill had started to make their way to the seaside. By 1780, development of the Regency terraces had started and the town quickly became the fashionable resort of Brighton. The growth of the town was further encouraged when, in 1786, the young Prince Regent rented a farmhouse in order to escape from public life for a while.
Fuelled by improved coach connections to London, development took off in the 1820s; travelling times were reduced to 6 hours, making Brighton much more accessible. The population jumped from around 7,000 in the early 1800's to over 20,000 some twenty years later.
The railways came in the 1850's, bringing the lure of the sea in easy reach of ordinary people. By 1871 when Bank Holidays were introduced, visitors were flocking here in their thousands.
Money poured in and shrewd businessmen capitalised on the growth. They built amusement arcades, hotels, theatres, piers and anything else that would attract a share of the tourists.
As the visitors invaded Brighton, the wealthy moved away in order to escape the raucousness of the town. They found peace and tranquillity in the old fishing village of Hove. Inspired by the terraces of Regent's Park in London, developments such as Brunswick Square sprang up. Built between 1820 and 1850, the houses were sold as empty shells, with the new owners arranging rooms, decorations and furniture, as they wanted.
Today, Hove's well to do past is still in evidence. Sussex County Cricket Ground can be found here, the elegant Regency squares and numerous lawns promote a sense of spaciousness, and the area is even known locally as 'Hove Actually'.
The City Today
After a downturn in the fortunes of the area in the 1970's, the city of Brighton & Hove has emerged as one of the finest seaside resorts in Britain. With a wealth of facilities that range from conference venues to amusement arcades and modern shopping centres to sun drenched beaches - the city has something to offer everyone. In Brighton, the area occupied by the original fishing village has become The Lanes - a collection of narrow alleyways now filled with a mixture of antique shops, restaurants, bistros and pubs. In Hove, peace and tranquillity fills the wide boulevards, creating a welcome retreat.
The past and the present have fused co-operatively, creating a city that is as vibrant as it is relaxing.