A few days ago I braced myself for a walk along Brighton seafront to see the horrific damage the Royal Albion Hotel fire wreaked. The photos in The Argus and elsewhere went someway to preparing me but it was only through my own eyes that I appreciated the enormous loss to the city and its distinctive architecture.

I remember the same wave of grief following The Grand hotel bombing and both West Pier fires.

Brighton and Hove has grown up and flourished since Regency times and these natural and man-made assaults on its fabric are heart-breaking.

However, there is a resilience in the city which reminds me of the Chumbawamba party anthem Tubthumping. When Brighton and Hove is knocked down, it gets back up again.

Full disclosure, I was neither born nor brought up in Brighton and Hove but in Shoreham.

However, my father’s roots were firmly set in what was then the town.

His love of this vibrant, proud place was passed down to me and my siblings and we’ve always regarded it as home.

My memories stretch back to the 1960s when we were crammed into Dad’s Ford Cortina for drives into Brighton to wonder at the seafront illuminations.

A particular favourite was the huge fountain-like structure that filled me with awe.

When they were switched off for the last time, when the old Churchill Square was demolished and when the West Pier was closed, it felt like the end of Brighton.

However, as the city changed and as my childhood memories were reduced to rubble, I came to realise that whatever the disaster, Brighton and Hove’s heart beats on.

When I was its Divisional Commander, new officers would ask me what Brighton and Hove was like to police. There was never a simple answer.

Take a spring Saturday for example. Over the space of 12 hours, it’s the morning after the night before.

Then it becomes shoppers central, followed by the terminus for all beach-lovers this side of Watford. Then the regular protests would lock down parts of the city.

If Brighton and Hove Albion were at home, there’s the crowds and the game to police and before you know it, it’s getting its glad rags on for another night of partying.

Each phase brought its own unique policing demand and styles but its ability to seamlessly reinvent itself is the beauty of the place, despite the battering it sometimes gets.

I see it now as I walk along the beachfront. No two outings are the same. Sometimes the city feels fresh, vibrant and up for the day. Others it’s like it has the worst hangover imaginable.

Occasionally it seems the army have arrived, building or dismantling huge structures and mini-villages from this event or that.

However I find the sights, smells and sounds, it’s never dull, always metamorphosing to its next phase.

It’s like a world champion boxer. Beautifully hewn with a sturdy core. Proud, resilient and bullish, yet wears its scars with pride as mementoes of all it has endured to become what it is.

The same cannot be said of all seaside resorts.

Around the same time that we were admiring Brighton’s illuminations, we would holiday with my maternal grandparents in Lancashire.

Aside from being even more dazzled by Blackpool’s illuminations, we’d love our visits to fun-packed Morecambe.

Then, little did we know that its heyday as a thriving go-to resort with the largest Pontins in the country, a huge seafront lido and the Winter Gardens Theatre was about to come to a grinding halt.

I went back in 2018 for a book festival and while its people are still strong and feisty (Tyson Fury lives there) to me the town has a sad and empty feel that under-investment and competition with its near neighbour Blackpool has only deepened.

The personal tragedies each of Brighton and Hove’s blights predicate are not to be underplayed.

I hate to think how many weddings, holidays, conferences and even trysts have had to be rearranged since the Royal Albion caught fire.

I hope everyone affected is able to bounce back in time.

But we should be proud of our quirky, vibrant, cosmopolitan city.

It has its faults for sure, but its DNA is strong and, come what may, it will emerge from blow after blow and remain the most exciting place in the UK.

Former Brighton and Hove police chief Graham Bartlett writes the Brighton based Jo Howe crime novels