West Hill Watch

Jim Gowans looks at heritage pubs and considers the cost of graffiti

IN THE LAST WHISTLER, reference was made to the three pubs included in the five locally listed heritage assets in West Hill conservation area: the Queen’s Head, the Royal Standard and the Grand Central.

The north façade of the Queen’s Head which greets visitors as they leave Brighton Station is not part of the original late 19th century design. The two highly decorative balconies and the elaborate mouldings at second floor level are, in fact, only eight years old. This façade was previously quite plain because when built, it was not exposed, being obscured by buildings which were subsequently demolished to widen the roads during the mid-20th century. 

The Royal Standard, a few yards further down Queen’s Road, is mentioned in street directories as early as 1859, but the current building seems to date from the late 19th century like the Queen’s Head. The Royal Standard owes its inclusion in the local list partly because of its red brick and stone design which is not typical of the area. 

The roofline is particularly interesting with its carved stone pediment flanked (originally) by two copper domed open turrets one of which remains. The single copper dome of the Grand Central pub is much more prominent and is a notably exuberant feature of what was the “baroque” style of the former Railway Hotel re- built in 1925 for Tamplins Brewery. 

The Regency Society’s James Gray collection (see picture and link) shows the hotel in about 1911 before the re-build. This hotel dates from the 1840s when it catered for travellers using the newly built railway terminus opposite.


As its name implies this was a product of the Railway and it opened in the early 1840’s. The photograph, dating from 1911, shows it in its original form. In 1924 the Terminus Hotel, Queens Road and the Terminus Shades in Surrey Street were demolished, leaving the Railway Hotel in full view from the Station. Probably as a result of this, the Hotel was completely rebuilt, in its present form in 1925.

Clamping down on graffiti

THE BRIGHTON SOCIETY has led a campaign to force the police and the City Council to take a much less casual attitude to the scourge of graffiti and spray paint vandalism. 

In an online meeting hosted by the Brighton Society recently the deputy manager of Waitrose in Western Road revealed that his branch alone has been spending £12,000 per year removing graffiti and despite offering CCTV evidence to the police has yet to secure a prosecution. 

Examples of the police attitude include the case in 2019 of a “tagger” caught and held responsible for over 81 acts of spray paint vandalism. There was an outcry when the 22-year-old was given a caution with the condition he carry out a day’s “unpaid work” for the Council. 

The Council’s attitude is similarly un-reassuring when it allows its own tourism delivery unit “Visit Brighton” to sponsor an organisation whose un-authorised advertising used spray paint to advertise on pavements including those parts designated conservation areas. 

The City Council has published a 16 page “Graffiti Reduction Strategy 2018” and an online reporting system (which is only for graffiti on public property or “offensive” graffiti). Graffiti on private property should be reported directly to the police, preferably with a photo of the damage.

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