Since the emergence of nationalist protest groups like the English Defence League, the far-right have descended on Brighton.

The marchers have never enjoyed a warm welcome in the liberal city and have been vastly outnumbered by peaceful protesters and sometimes violent militant activists.

The tradition of physically attacking fascists in Brighton goes back at least 80 years.

According to left-wing author and anti-fascist activist Tony Greenstein, a speech by the founder of the British Union of Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley, was thwarted by determined Brighton opponents.

In 1934 the controversial politician, who had links with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, attempted to give a speech in the Brighton Dome.

But days earlier the hall had been secretly wired with loudspeakers hidden in chandeliers with a cable leading to the nearby offices of Lewis Cohen, a prominent Jewish Labour councillor later known as ‘Mr Brighton’.

As Mosley began to speak he was drowned out by the strains of French national anthem La Marseillaise – in recognition of the rise of fascism across the channel.

Mr Greenstein’s book The Fight Against Fascism In Brighton And The South Coast also tells how in March 1934, William Joyce, later known as Lord Haw-Haw, spoke at the Brighton Dome.

Joyce was an Irish-American fascist politician who went on to become a Nazi propaganda broadcaster during the Second World War.

During the war he told German radio “the Royal Pavilion Brighton was not to be bombed” because Hitler apparently wanted to make it his headquarters after victory.

This did not stop the Royal Pavilion and Dome coming dangerously close to being destroyed by a German bomb.

Joyce was later hanged at Wandsworth Prison after being captured and convicted of treason.

Mosley held another rally in Brighton in April 1936 but was subjected to more fierce opposition from locals.

According to Greenstein: “Brighton was rapidly becoming a no-go area for the fascists, except when they could bus in thugs from London.”

The following year British Union of Fascists official Tommy Moran struggled to make himself heard above hecklers who cut the wires to a loudspeaker van.

Mosley and his supporters were forced to hold meetings at short notice or secure police protection for rallies at the Dome or Corn Exchange.

Despite the strong opposition in Brighton, other parts of Sussex were described as a hot-bed of fascists politics.

Worthing had a party headquarters and elected fascist councillor Captain Charles Bentinck Budd. The vicar of Rustington was a BUF member, and the party held open summer camps in Pagham and Selsey.

After the war Jewish ex-servicemen returned to Brighton determined to prevent a resurgence of fascism or anti-Semitism. They joined forced with anti-fascists and fought fascists in the infamous Battle of The Level.

Fighting lasted for more than an hour, with members of Mosley’s new Union Movement party thoroughly beaten, with elderly Jewish men seen wading in with walking sticks and umbrellas.

Mosley and his men never returned to Brighton following the defeat.

The far-right virtually disappeared until the National Front emerged in the 1970s, marking a return of ugly clashes and protests, with many leaders living in the area.

National Front leader John Tyndall’s wife Valerie stood as a parliamentary candidate in Brighton Kemptown in 1979.

Also in 1979 some 400 turned out to oppose the National Front as the far-right group held its first Sussex election meeting at Lewes Town Hall – described in The Evening Argus as ‘The Face of Hate’.

Anti-fascists in Brighton formed a committee to take action but there were divisions over how to oppose the National Front, with the more moderate, older Jewish activists clashing with younger anti-fascists – particularly in their positions towards Israeli.

Despite the disagreements the groups made it difficult for the National Front and other far-right groups to operate in Brighton without strong opposition.