I was surprised to discover that a century ago the then Brighton Council had a publicity department as most local authorities left it much later.

It was equally astonishing to find that the man in charge was Henry D Roberts, for he was busy enough running the Royal Pavilion, the library, museums and fine art galleries.

I have an eight page document produced by Roberts. The writing is understandably a little stilted by today’s standards.

Roberts is largely forgotten these days but he was a considerable figure in Brighton in the first half of the last century. He arrived in1906 from Southwark where he had been Britain’s youngest head librarian, increasing interest in the public library.

He did much the same in Brighton, expanding the number of books issued three-fold and encouraging access from all over the borough.

As head of the art gallery, he put on exhibitions by leading French painters such as the impressionists and also displayed Russian art which was unusual at the time.

When the First World War broke out, Roberts was in charge of the Royal Pavilion and negotiated a deal with the military to use it as a hospital for wounded Indian soldiers.

After the conflict had ended, Roberts continued his ground breaking shows at the art gallery and met Mussolini when arranging an exhibition of Italian arts in 1926.

Roberts turned his attention to the Royal Pavilion where he undertook an extensive programme of repair and renewals. He studied the original decorations to make it as accurate as possible

It helped that in those days the Pavilion director actually lived in the palace together with his family.

He also wrote some guides, one on the state apartments in the palace and another on its history.

Roberts was on good terms with Sir Charles and Lady Ellen Stanford who owned Preston Manor a mile inland from the Pavilion. He suggested that when they died they should leave it to the town and they did so.

In return the Stanfords requested that Roberts should move into the Manor which he did in 1933 following both their deaths within a few months of each other’s. He stayed there until his own death in 1951.

Afterwards his daughter Margery remained at the Manor and was its curator until 1970. She was always extremely assiduous in protecting her father’s reputation. She was an old nuisance but I became quite fond of her.

Margery would ring me every time she felt an article on the Pavilion had given Henry insufficient creditor that his successor Clifford Musgrave had suggested the Pavilion was in a poor state when he took over.

But Musgrave was also an admirer of Roberts and by the time he moved to Brighton it had its own fully staffed publicity department of professional journalists.