Entrance to a white building on a pier
Coast & seascapes,  England,  Monday walks,  Street photography

Gallery: a walk along Brighton’s prom and pier

What do you think of when you imagine a traditional British seaside resort? My guess is that Brighton would have pretty much everything on your list.

A pier? Check – in fact it has two, although one is a bare skeleton, all that remains after a fire in 2003.

Metal framework in the sea
The West Pier

The other, the Palace Pier, is a classic seaside pier; a walk along it to the fairground rides at the far end offers fresh air and lots of photo opps.

A promenade? Check, of course! And perfect for another walk and for a spot of street photography. The architecture is interesting too, with everything from grand hotels (the grandest actually called The Grand) to small cafés and souvenir shops.

A beach? Naturally, and as on much of England’s south east coast, here it is a pebble one.

Lady in swimsuit walking into the sea
Lone swimmer
Dark sea with wind turbines on the horizon
Wind farm offshore

Ice cream? Fish and chips? Candyfloss? All those and more, and plenty of seagulls to snatch them from your hands if you aren’t careful!

The town

Behind the scenes as it were, that is in the town that lies behind the beach, Brighton can seem very UNtraditional. As I have shown in a previous post, it’s an excellent place to find street art – and I mean art, not casual graffiti. There are also lots of quirky shops selling everything from vintage clothes to original art, ethnic jewellery to seaside souvenirs. Time for some more street photography, a coffee break and maybe some shopping.

The Royal Pavilion

As we walk between the prom and the town centre we may pass the Royal Pavilion. This, as I mentioned in my previous post about the town, is arguably the main reason behind Brighton’s development as a resort. This is the ‘seaside cottage’ commissioned by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) and designed to his exacting specifications by the architect John Nash.

Old print of ornate building with onion domes
The garden front of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton – from John Nash’s Views of the Royal Pavilion (1826) (public domain)

It had started life as a simple lodging house but that would never be enough to suit this flamboyant prince. He convinced Parliament to increase his income, which funded its first transformation into a modest villa. But when in 1811 he became Prince Regent (because his father, George III, had been deemed incapable of acting as monarch), his ambition and imagination grew. Nash was hired to turn the modest villa into a grand oriental palace, with striking results.

The building couldn’t look more out of place in an English seaside resort, but it had an immediate impact on the town. Its construction created employment for local tradesmen, labourers and craftsmen. And the presence in the town of the court, George’s guests, members of society and the Royal Household provided invaluable business for local builders and the service industries. Perhaps most importantly, where the court went, high society followed, and Brighton became the place to be seen in the summer season.

Handsome seafront squares and crescents were built to accommodate the visitors, many of which still stand today. The town may have changed a lot since George’s day, but he certainly left his mark on it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this short stroll along its prom and streets, shared for Jo’s Monday Walks.

I last visited Brighton in October 2021, when all these photos were taken

22 Comments

  • Heyjude

    A lovely collection of photos Sarah. I have only been to Brighton once and that was to an evening concert. We had hoped to visit the Pavilion beforehand but it was closed for renovations! Story of my life! Never went back, but I’m not keen on the south coast beaches with their pebbles.

  • restlessjo

    I’ve been trying to remember the film Oh what a lovely war, since Mari mentioned it. I might have to look on YouTube later. It’s such a fun town, isn’t it? A great place for people watching, and I love those bucket hanging baskets. Many thanks for sharing, Sarah! Hopefully I’ll have a walk up next Monday.

  • maristravels

    I love Brighton and I almost went to live there after my husband died. I still wonder if I might have been a better idea as most of the friends I stayed here to keep in touch with have fallen victim to illnesses of one sort or another whereas my Brighton friend go from strength to strength! I visit often, I’m lucky in that I have friends there with spare rooms and we tour a lot in the region. I love the South Downs and at least once a year I visit the pavilion, my favourite royal building in all England. And I don’t think its vulgar, it’s very English and tolerant, gives visitors a wide choice of entertainment, eateries, taverns, and shopping experiences. Best way to see it? The film of Oh What a Lovely War which was filmed on the pier.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I do think it would be a great place to live – so much going on and only a short distance to London 🙂 But everywhere has its pros and cons, I guess. No, I don’t think Brighton as a whole is vulgar at all, it’s such a ‘something for everyone’ place. But I guess you can see a touch of that in some of the seaside elements, although personally I love a pier! I used to make regular visits to an aunt and uncle in Eastbourne as a child and I loved it, especially in winter – walking out along the pier in rough seas, and being given a handful of coins to play the machines, mainly the ‘penny drop’ sort.

  • thehungrytravellers.blog

    Ah Sarah, Brighton has always been and will always be one of my favourite English towns (well, cities, now). I was a regular visitor when I lived in Sussex and never tired of it. There’s always something going on. It’s like having a West End by the sea. Love the place.

Do let me know what you think - I'd love to hear from you

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