WAR has a reputation for destroying places, not building them.

But for Brighton, the opposite is true. When the Napoleonic Wars began in 1803, Brighton was just a small seaside resort.

But as fears spread that French troops would land in the shallow bay beside the city, thousands of soldiers were moved to Brighton, sparking a boom that led to some of the city’s most notable sites being built.

“Brighton had flourished as a seaside resort during the Napoleonic Wars, the population doubling between 1801 and 1811,” said historian Dr Sue Berry. “Developers quickly responded to the growing demand for bigger houses to rent and the related increase in prices.”

By the time the wars had ended in 1815, Brighton had overtaken Bath as Britain’s premier resort for the wealthy.

As more money was pumped into the city and famous fans like the Prince Regent drew attention to it, developments that still stand to this day were created across Brighton by wealthy landowners and small builders alike.

The iconic Regency Square was completed in 1825, financed by the Hanson family’s sugar imports and let out to rich visitors.

A year earlier, Thomas Kemp set out his plans to build his own neighbourhood which he modestly named after himself: Kemp Town. Over in Hove, work was beginning on Brunswick Town thanks to The Reverend Thomas Scutt.

But the most striking project built during Brighton’s boom with the Chain Pier, the city’s first, built in 1823. Every day a steam-powered ferry left the pier towards Dieppe, bringing even more tourists to the city. And it was featured in the paintings of John Constable and JMW Turner, spreading Brighton across the art world.

By the end of the decade, builders’ firms became bankrupt as Brighton’s boom slowed down. But the 30 years of building frenzy changed the face of the city.

Dr Perry is giving a sold-out talk on the “Transformation of Brighton” next month at the Brighton Dome.