Mired in controversy due to paving slabs having to be dug up and re-laid twice, and traffic and noise disruption hurting businesses and residents, here’s one Brighton resident and Whistler contributor, Ajit Chambers, who can see beyond the issues and look forward to a brighter future for the station and its environs…
The beautiful square outside Brighton station is slowly being chiselled back to what it felt like in 1840. Ornate painted railings facing simple white aristocratic buildings attempting to proudly mirror Mocatta with their fine white detailing. The hint of top hats, carriages and walking sticks are right at home in this historic square.
I guess you can’t see it just yet, but I urge you to make time to stop and watch the building works and dream a little. The exhaustive works will soon be over and just a sixty second daydream will enable you to glimpse the near future. You do daydream, don’t you?
Stand still and squint, look through all the mistaken spend, the taxi implosion, the design failures, the bus manoeuvring miscalculations, the overspend, the underspend, the ‘bespoke mismanagement’ as I call it.
Are you daydreaming now? Then the future of this square can be seen clearly. And, frankly, it looks fabulous. Like the Brighton in which I remember growing up. The square more tranquil, yet still busy. Trees shading benches with friends chatting before they head home after work. Buses gliding slowly into their bays to whisk you off to your destination. Cobbled areas making you feel you want to linger. A reason to be early for your train. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be Victorian, more a modern version, with the history slightly hidden, like in that movie about a code.
Even the old Grand Central pub (1839) on the corner has been revamped as if in anticipation of the return of an old friend. Its secret terrace up the stairs at the back is a delight, and, for those who dare to venture, ask for the ‘Nightingale Room’ and be led through a door to a room with plush velvet green seats for a decadent dinner and show. Finally, somewhere for which to dress up, to take a date, to meet new friends.
Instead of the straight walk down to the sea, veer one street to the right into Surrey Street and savour the gorgeous cute little multi-coloured houses with palm trees waving to the owners on their front garden benches. The square itself will be what it was always designed to be. Not just an outside-of-station-space, but a threshold, an entrance, a welcome home, a meet-you-after-work-here space; a safe, loving place that tells you that you’re almost home, or that you’re off on an adventure. Our square will be one in which to create memories again. And I love that.