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Brighton

Brighton, a parliamentary and municipal borough and one of the "Queens of Watering-places," of which there are as many as of the gypsies. It is just above 50 miles from London, of which it is at the present day as much a suburb as Croydon or Sutton, being hardly more distant by rail, and possessing over other suburbs the advantage of the sea-breeze and some other good qualities of sea-side places. Brighton in its present aspect is almost the growth of the past hundred years, even its name only dating from about 1800, up till when it was the little fishing-village of Brighthelmstone. About the middle of last century a Dr. Russell brought it into notice as an easily accessible spot for sea-bathing, and the discovery of a chalybeate spring contributed to bring it into popularity. The fact of the then Prince of Wales taking a fancy to the place, and making the notorious Pavilion his residence, completed its claims to fashionable notice. But it was the construction of the Brighton railway, and the easy accessibility from London, that have made it a place of popular as well as fashionable resort, and during the last forty years it has advanced by leaps and bounds; and bricks and mortar have already crawled inland so far as to swallow up the pretty outlying village of Preston, and along the coast westward almost far enough to make a continuous line to Kingston and Shoreham. Its spread due east is stopped by the Downs, which end in cliff, and have thus far marked the limit of building. Roughly speaking, Brighton may be said to have from three to four miles of sea-front, protected by a sea-wall of varying height, but rising at the east end to the height of 60 feet. Under the eastern part of the sea-wall is a promenade called the Madeira Road, of about a mile in length, and well sheltered by the wall and cliff from cold winds. There is a fine parade extending the whole length of this sea-front, and except for the presence of the sea, there is little to distinguish it from London, the shops towards the eastern part closely resembling those of Regent Street, and the squares and terraces of the western part being the counterpart of fashionable West End London. The town is clean, well paved and lighted, and its sanitary conditions are well looked after by the authorities. The sewage is carried by an elaborate system of intercepting sewers into the sea at a considerable distance eastward of the town. Of the two piers, the older, called the Chain Pier, which was supported by chains from iron columns which rested on oak piles driven into the chalk, was swept away by a very severe gale in December, 1896. In the matter of public buildings Brighton contains nothing strikingly remarkable, unless it be the fantastic Pavilion, the best feature of which is the Dome, which does not fall far short in its proportions of that of St. Paul's Cathedral. The associations with the Pavilion were not such as to endear it to the present Royal family, and many years since the buildings became the property of the corporation of Brighton, who have utilised them for various public purposes. Those who may have visited the Dome about 30 years ago, when it was used as stables for the cavalry stationed there, and have since attended a concert beneath it in later years, will probably think that the change has been for the better. The resemblance of Brighton to London would not be complete, did not the former possess some of the monster hotels which are a feature of our latest civilisation. But there are also some good old-fashioned hotels possessed of many almost historical associations. The Brighton Aquarium has for years been renowned as a well-arranged place of instruction, as well as amusement, and has been the model in its main points for many similar ones at watering-places and elsewhere. Till lately Brighton had its one well-managed theatre, but now it is getting theatres and music balls, as becomes a London-on-Sea. Of the many churches, St. Nicholas, the mother church, is the only one with any pretensions to anything like antiquity. St. Paul's was a good deal heard of a few years ago, but more for its interest as one of the homes of the then new High Church movement than for any other reason. Brighton possesses the usual complement of hospitals, and other public buildings; and, of course, abounds in schools, where many another besides Paul Dombey and Mr. Toots have been taught or crammed. Of these, Brighton College is not without renown in the scholastic world. The races and the - now rare - volunteer reviews add much to the success of Brighton. As a sea-side place merely it is comparatively tame and monotonous. But when all else is cold and cheerless, one may sit sheltered by glass at the end of the West Pier, and look out upon the many-smiling water in a climate akin to that of Ventnor, while in half an hour one may be at the top of the South Downs and buffeted by a breeze as keen and bracing as can be desired. It is in its nearness to the unrivalled scenery of the country lying immediately beneath the northern escarpment of the Downs, and to its remarkably pure air, that Brighton owes its charm, at least for those who do not find it sufficient charm to carry about with them a bit of their beloved London. Old Brighton or Brighthelmstone, which now lies at varying depths beneath the beach under the east cliff, found its enemies in the Spaniards, Flemings and others, as well as in the sea which finally swallowed it up. This last enemy was also formidable to the new town, but has been almost circumvented by the construction of the sea-wall above mentioned, and by a thorough system of groynes, which counteract the ceaseless movement of the shingle eastward. Brighton has an excellent water supply, which is drawn from the chalk of the South Downs.

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