The annual Brighton Festival and Fringe is rightly well known for its music, theatre, art and some downright quirky entertainment. But perhaps less well known are the tours that take you to some of the lesser known corners of familiar landmarks. And today I've been on one which I would highly recommend to anyone with an interest in local history - a tour of Brighton station, organised and led by the irrepressible Jackie Marsh-Hobbs.
As well as a short talk on the history of the station, with some wonderful old prints, plans and photographs to illustrate it, we walked around parts not normally accessible to the public. Completed in 1841, the main building is unusual for still being in use as an active part of the station, albeit with Victorian and later additions: most of its contemporaries have been replaced or demolished. Designed by David Mocatta, it still has its original cantilevered staircases at either end, complete with decorative ironwork balustrades.
We visited the site of the original cab road, now buried under platform 7; the old subterranean goods tunnel, which runs from the Shoreham lines to the old goods yard - now part rifle range and part disused Second World War control rooms (picture below); and finally the horse hospital (yes, really) and Stablemaster's house on the southern side of the station, today home to a bicycle rental business.But for me, perhaps best bit of all was the wonderful interior view of the 1882 train shed from one of the of station offices at first floor level, looking over the roofs of the trains. The curved, glazed roofs are simply magnificent.
The tours book up quickly: catch one next year!