The ArgusUncovering city's secret history (From The Argus)

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Uncovering city's secret history using The Keep in Moulsecoomb

The Argus: The Keep in Moulsecoomb The Keep in Moulsecoomb

A historian researching the history of “Brighton’s cathedral” is one of thousands of people who have benefited from a new £19 million history centre – using archives of The Argus.

More than 3,400 people have visited The Keep in Moulsecoomb since it opened its doors at the end of November.

The new state-of-the-art records office is proving a big hit with local historians including retired history teacher Paul Nicholl who has recently published an extensive new history of St Peter’s Church in Brighton.

Using microfilm archives of The Argus dating back throughout the last century, the 64-year-old from Withdean has been able shine new light on the church.


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In among the archives, Mr Nicholl discovered the sad demise of Canon Dormer Pierce who had a heart attack travelling on the way to church one Sunday in December 1923 while riding a trolleybus.

The then Vicar of Brighton had masterminded the project to build the Church Hall in memory of soldiers who died in World War I but didn’t live to see its completion in 1927.

Canon Pierce’s headstone can still be found in the graveyard of St Peters in West Blatchington.

The author also uncovered Argus reports on an incredible memorial service to mark the death of Edward VII, who was a frequent visitor to Brighton for its restorative sea air, which saw 10,000 people gather in the church grounds in May 1910.

The book also tells the story of Hove mother Pat Haith who could lay reasonable claim to being the woman who saved the church when it faced closure in 2007.

She contacted her son Jamie who was a Holy Trinity Brompton minister which led to the Anglican group rescuing the church and leading to an incredible resurgence in its recent fortunes.

Mr Nicholl said it took 18 months to write the book including an anxious wait for The Keep to open to allow him to finish his research.

He added: “I was one of the first ones in on the day it opened.

“I was blown over by the facilities, the microfilms were so much easier to use.”

County Archivist Elizabeth Hughes said the centre had received more than 1,700 visitors in groups or on tours.

Tours for local groups on Mondays have proved so popular that they are booked up into July.

She added: “We have been delighted by the reaction to The Keep since it opened.

“People love the space, the state-of-the-art facilities, the tours and activities, and of course the wonderful archives all in one place.

“It’s great to be able to offer something for everyone - the local community, local and family historians, students and schoolchildren.

“We have been busy ever since The Keep opened with people using the research facilities and coming for activities, talks and tours.”

To buy a copy of A History of St Peter’s Church, Brighton, by P D W Nicholl go to Books Alive in Elm Drove, Hove.

For information on visits to The Keep visit www.thekeep.info/events.

Comments (12)

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7:15am Sun 13 Apr 14

twonk says...

It's a great place but why did it have to be so ugly?
It's a great place but why did it have to be so ugly? twonk
  • Score: 1

7:33am Sun 13 Apr 14

rogerthefish says...

So far the cost is £5,400 per visitor, why is it stuck completely out of the way?
So far the cost is £5,400 per visitor, why is it stuck completely out of the way? rogerthefish
  • Score: -2

8:02am Sun 13 Apr 14

john newman says...

All faciliites like this are to be praised but access needs to be well signposted and promoted in tourist literature. Personally unless the city , and Sussex , develops improved transport infrastructure links we will struggle to maximise revenue from tourism. It only takes one problem on a major road ,and our inadequate rail network,to scupper any plans to boost revenue from tourism. It is hard to believe at times that we are supposed to be about 50 minutes from London!!!
All faciliites like this are to be praised but access needs to be well signposted and promoted in tourist literature. Personally unless the city , and Sussex , develops improved transport infrastructure links we will struggle to maximise revenue from tourism. It only takes one problem on a major road ,and our inadequate rail network,to scupper any plans to boost revenue from tourism. It is hard to believe at times that we are supposed to be about 50 minutes from London!!! john newman
  • Score: 5

9:09am Sun 13 Apr 14

HJarrs says...

Interesting article and good publicity. The Keep looks great and I will enjoy researching my house and street's history there at some point. It is a facility that the city can be proud of and which we need to make more use.

What about a regular feature from the archives of the Keep?
Interesting article and good publicity. The Keep looks great and I will enjoy researching my house and street's history there at some point. It is a facility that the city can be proud of and which we need to make more use. What about a regular feature from the archives of the Keep? HJarrs
  • Score: 5

9:15am Sun 13 Apr 14

RK_Brighton says...

Didn't know this place existed. I'm interested in visiting now!
Didn't know this place existed. I'm interested in visiting now! RK_Brighton
  • Score: 5

10:06am Sun 13 Apr 14

Rule-No.5 says...

I had not heard of this place either. Looks great - I'll have to go pay a visit. Surely good news for making Moulsecoomb a nicer place to live.
I had not heard of this place either. Looks great - I'll have to go pay a visit. Surely good news for making Moulsecoomb a nicer place to live. Rule-No.5
  • Score: 3

11:34am Sun 13 Apr 14

Man of steel says...

A historian?
A historian? Man of steel
  • Score: -1

5:00pm Sun 13 Apr 14

Mr chock says...

RK_Brighton wrote:
Didn't know this place existed. I'm interested in visiting now!
YES i saw it being built and thought it was more student accommodation the news on the Queen coming to open it made the headlines that day but your right publicity and the massive expense //// So far the cost is £5,400 per visitor, why is it stuck completely out of the way?
its a resource that will be a great benefit to the city .. BUT Argus its not secrets is it they are forgotten history " secrets would not be something you read about in an Argus issue from 100 years ago , just old news ....... "
[quote][p][bold]RK_Brighton[/bold] wrote: Didn't know this place existed. I'm interested in visiting now![/p][/quote]YES i saw it being built and thought it was more student accommodation the news on the Queen coming to open it made the headlines that day but your right publicity and the massive expense //// So far the cost is £5,400 per visitor, why is it stuck completely out of the way? its a resource that will be a great benefit to the city .. BUT Argus its not secrets is it they are forgotten history " secrets would not be something you read about in an Argus issue from 100 years ago , just old news ....... " Mr chock
  • Score: -1

6:34pm Sun 13 Apr 14

brightonbunny says...

OK, sometimes journalists use numbers without too much thought or realisation that there is also another story "line" to follow up on behalf of tax payers.
So, if "more than 3,400 people have visited" since the end of Nov, according to my maths that's an average of 36 people per day, bearing in mind it's closed on Mondays and Sundays (oh yes, Sunday - the day when most can people can visit).
I am 100% for such a centre being available to the public, but really think the Argus should be picking up that only an average of 4.5 people per hour are visiting currently. How does this compare to the bid for funding, that must be publicly available? If below expectations, what more can be done to get people visiting? (I guess this article is one way).
Why are they not open when customer can visit (ie Sundays)?
The Argus could then be helping publicise The Keep more, whist keeping (pun intended) those operating the building on their toes to attract more visitors, so we also get value for money from the investment.
OK, sometimes journalists use numbers without too much thought or realisation that there is also another story "line" to follow up on behalf of tax payers. So, if "more than 3,400 people have visited" since the end of Nov, according to my maths that's an average of 36 people per day, bearing in mind it's closed on Mondays and Sundays (oh yes, Sunday - the day when most can people can visit). I am 100% for such a centre being available to the public, but really think the Argus should be picking up that only an average of 4.5 people per hour are visiting currently. How does this compare to the bid for funding, that must be publicly available? If below expectations, what more can be done to get people visiting? (I guess this article is one way). Why are they not open when customer can visit (ie Sundays)? The Argus could then be helping publicise The Keep more, whist keeping (pun intended) those operating the building on their toes to attract more visitors, so we also get value for money from the investment. brightonbunny
  • Score: 2

8:13pm Sun 13 Apr 14

debthered says...

i booked to view 3 archives at the Keep just after it opened. When I visited I went through the (understandable) process of being photographed for the ID and putting my coat and bag in a locker; then went into the secure area at the assigned time. I then had to present each of my requests in turn, I got the first item and then had to return it, then I requested the next …etc Each time the "assistant" went off to find the article, My goodness it was slow! and as my daughter commented "aren't the workers here grumpy" Shame we don't feel like returning. I couldn't even get out of the car park -perhaps my fault but not user friendly!
i booked to view 3 archives at the Keep just after it opened. When I visited I went through the (understandable) process of being photographed for the ID and putting my coat and bag in a locker; then went into the secure area at the assigned time. I then had to present each of my requests in turn, I got the first item and then had to return it, then I requested the next …etc Each time the "assistant" went off to find the article, My goodness it was slow! and as my daughter commented "aren't the workers here grumpy" Shame we don't feel like returning. I couldn't even get out of the car park -perhaps my fault but not user friendly! debthered
  • Score: 0

3:57pm Mon 14 Apr 14

dwhitt says...

In an age when everything else is digitised and stored for easy retrieval , why do we need a new building to store archaic media such as microfilm.
When a building is badly sign posted and you have to physically visit to look up information it doesn't sound becoming of a modern city as Brighton is supposed to portray.
In an age when everything else is digitised and stored for easy retrieval , why do we need a new building to store archaic media such as microfilm. When a building is badly sign posted and you have to physically visit to look up information it doesn't sound becoming of a modern city as Brighton is supposed to portray. dwhitt
  • Score: 0

4:25pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Mr chock says...

debthered wrote:
i booked to view 3 archives at the Keep just after it opened. When I visited I went through the (understandable) process of being photographed for the ID and putting my coat and bag in a locker; then went into the secure area at the assigned time. I then had to present each of my requests in turn, I got the first item and then had to return it, then I requested the next …etc Each time the "assistant" went off to find the article, My goodness it was slow! and as my daughter commented "aren't the workers here grumpy" Shame we don't feel like returning. I couldn't even get out of the car park -perhaps my fault but not user friendly!
YES i noticed this procedure is a bit of a hassle , i am also sure that many people will think it could all be digitized and put on the internet ...maybe this will happen over time but from its inception to actually opening its been a GREAT i do believe a great resource ..where else can you go to view physically such old artifacts ..
and yes putting your personal bags in lockers might seem a bit of an over precaution but think of the records as priceless and irreplaceable would you want some old documents just " being taken " ?..
it was 19 million that might seem like a lot of money it took since about 2007 to get this i think it will be there for many many years as a valuable resource
[quote][p][bold]debthered[/bold] wrote: i booked to view 3 archives at the Keep just after it opened. When I visited I went through the (understandable) process of being photographed for the ID and putting my coat and bag in a locker; then went into the secure area at the assigned time. I then had to present each of my requests in turn, I got the first item and then had to return it, then I requested the next …etc Each time the "assistant" went off to find the article, My goodness it was slow! and as my daughter commented "aren't the workers here grumpy" Shame we don't feel like returning. I couldn't even get out of the car park -perhaps my fault but not user friendly![/p][/quote]YES i noticed this procedure is a bit of a hassle , i am also sure that many people will think it could all be digitized and put on the internet ...maybe this will happen over time but from its inception to actually opening its been a GREAT i do believe a great resource ..where else can you go to view physically such old artifacts .. and yes putting your personal bags in lockers might seem a bit of an over precaution but think of the records as priceless and irreplaceable would you want some old documents just " being taken " ?.. it was 19 million that might seem like a lot of money it took since about 2007 to get this i think it will be there for many many years as a valuable resource Mr chock
  • Score: 0

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