Our new DVD on the way we were

The new DVD

The new DVD

First published in Past Views
Last updated

Tales of yesteryear have been enjoyed by Argus readers for many years. Now, as well as archive footage and stories, you can enjoy moving images of bygone years. Finn Scott-Delany looks at our new DVD Brighton and Hove: The Way We Were, a DVD that presents a fascinating look at life in bygone Brighton and Hove.

The film tells the story of Brighton’s transformation from a small fishing village, Brighthelmstone, to a fashionable Regency resort.

It reveals how the railway changed the area into a playground for Londoners.

Memories include electric trams, their decline in favour of trolley buses, the first London to Brighton car rally, the outbreak of violence known as the Battle of Lewes Road during the general strike and the effect of two World Wars.

Finally, it shows efforts by Brighton to reclaim its spot as the country’s premier holiday resort in the 1950s.

The period is brought to life with contemporary reports from the Argus archives, old photos and unique cinefilm.

The story begins with the arrival of Prince George in Brighton in 1783 and the building of the city’s most iconic landmark, the Royal Pavilion.

Despite its cherished place in the bosom of Brighton, critics were not so sure at the time, one claiming it would fall to ruin in a few years.

Footage of slums “as bad as London” are featured, which continued to blight Brighton until the 1930s, when the Moulsecoomb and Whitehawk housing estates were built.

With the building of the train line came the arrival of day trippers from London and the city solidified its position as a tourism destination – a legacy that lives on to this day.

Dirty papers

Like today, not everyone was pleased with the influx of visitors, some complaining they left nothing but “desolation and dirty papers”.

Nevertheless, Brighton catered for its working-class visitors, leading to the opening of another famous landmark, the Palace Pier, near the turn of the century.

According to the film, the arrival of the pier turned the “water hole into the pleasure resort it is today”.

The first London to Brighton car rally in 1896 heralded the “new era in the history of locomotion”, according to the then Evening Argus.

The usually high-spirited beachgoers were silenced in 1914 with the outbreak of war.

The Evening Argus described a “subdued and chastened sort of happiness”, with people reading newspapers with “engrossed intentness”.

During the Second World War, residents experienced the impact first-hand after 30,000 evacuees flocked to the town – the largest intake in Britain.

Bombs began to fall in 1940 and, by 1944, a staggering 272 civilians had died and 300 buildings had been destroyed during the course of 83 air raids.

The single worst tragedy was probably the bombing of the Odeon in Kemp Town, where eight children and six adults were killed in an explosion.

One building that escaped damage was the Royal Pavilion, rumoured to be because of Hitler’s admiration for the building and desire to make it his base after victory in Britain.

Vivid colour images of victory celebrations and street parties are shown.

By August bank holiday 1945, things were returning to normal – on Brighton beach at least, where an impressive 50,000 deckchairs were rented out in one weekend.

A real sign of post-war re-invention were the Brighton Promettes, who helped visitors find their way round town.

An amusing vintage commentary chirps: “For those men that prefer girls with brains, there’s no place like Brighton for a holiday.”

The Promettes combined “information with sex appeal” and had to be able to speak at least one foreign language.

The 50-minute DVD costs £15.50. It is produced exclusively for The Argus and is narrated by award-winning actor Howard Ellison.

Readers can get a special offer when they buy Brighton and Hove The Way We Were with an additional free DVD The Way We Were in the 1950s, which looks back at life in 1950s Britain via archive newsreels.

To order a copy, go to www.theargus.co.uk/store, call 01273 544725 or send a cheque for £16.80 (includes £1.30 p&p), with your name, address, postcode and contact telephone number to The Way We Were, Argus House, Crowhurst Road, Brighton BN1 8AR. Cheques should be made payable to Newsquest Sussex Ltd.

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