Definitely a 'must see' venue

The original concept of The Police Cells Museum, situated in the basement of Brighton Town Hall, was conceived by the late Brighton Councillor John Drake. His wife Councillor Pat Drake adopted it as her mayoral project and the museum was opened by her on the 4th May 2005, when she was Mayor of Brighton and Hove.

A very successful first year
In the first year of opening, the museum had over 700 visitors.  All that time more exhibits were being added and the mammoth task of cleaning, clearing and redecorating the premises was carried on. In 2006 a successful application was made for a lottery “Awards For All” grant of £10,000. This much needed funding made possible the provision of a museum trainee assistant, a dedicated website and further redecoration of the premises.

A dedicated team of volunteers
The area had not been used for a number of years and was in a very bad state of repair. But thanks to the dedication, hard work and enthusiasm of Pat Drake and her team of retired and serving police officers, council staff, the Brighton Princes Trust and graphics students from the University of Brighton, the museum has gone from strength to strength.

A spooky experience
We were fortunate enough to have a private tour of the museum with Councillor Pat Drake, who has a wealth of knowledge on her subject.  On entering, one is required to walk down a set of quite steep stairs leading into the basement cells area.  Quite a spooky experience! It is very easy to imagine what sense of gloom must have filled the prisoners who descended into the bowels of the building.

Reconstructed cells
There are so many very interesting things to see that it would be impossible to describe them all.  But perhaps one of the most striking experiences is to visit the first male cell. This cell has been restored to its original state and even has a resident cellmate. It is very small and bare – certainly no comforts here. Even original graffiti left by prisoners over the years can still be seen on the walls.

Police uniforms and equipment
The museum has exhibits of police uniforms and equipment from 1838. It is most interesting to see how uniforms have evolved over the years. Equally fascinating is to examine the collection of equipment which ranges from police rattles to radios. The array of interesting items and artifacts really has to be seen to be appreciated.

A ‘must see’ venue
The Old Police Cells Museum is definitely a ‘must see’ venue. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour; there was just so much to see that we plan a second visit. The museum opens for the summer season on 1st May 2008. It is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays thereafter until 1st November. For full details of bookings and tour arrangements visit the Old Police Cells Museum website

Comments about this page

  • I know there was a number of Mods and Rockers arrested at Brighton during the height of their visits to the then town and I also suspect that a few of those arrested probably came from Brighton! As some within these forums have possibly seen the interior of the cells in the reality sense, I wonder if we could have their impressions …. ?

    By Ron Spicer (05/07/2008)

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