Buildings of interest: Part I

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

b) OTHER BUILDINGS OF INTEREST: The King’s Road actually begins behind the Queen’s Hotel at East Street , where no.6, Dolphin Cottage, is an unusual early survivor in this part of the town, but is accessible only via a private passage. At the corner of Little East Street stands Dr Brightons.  Formerly the Star and Garter Hotel, it was dubbed Dr Brightons in the nineteenth century and the name has stuck; the proprietor posted a notice on the wall giving the ‘consulting hours’ and listing the ‘prescriptions of the finest quality’ which were available inside. The hotel has played host to many famous people, including Winston Churchill, Jack Dempsey, Charlie Chaplin, Richard Burton, and the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII), and dates back to at least 1785 when twin Irish giants were exhibited there. In front of the original bow-fronted building stood a capstan which was removed in 1827 to make way for the construction of the Grand Junction Road. This action provoked the last major argument between the town’s fishermen and other inhabitants {15,123}.
Between the Old Ship and West Street stand some impressive but mixed five- and six-storey buildings of the early to mid nineteenth century. No.39 for instance, on the Ship Street corner, has much decoration in the form of shell motifs, urns and composite capitals. Nos.42-43, faced with black glazed mathematical tiles, date from 1813. No.50, the Argylepublic house, has a number of figurehead decorations.
At the corner of West Street is the Sheridan Hotel, a highly attractive, six-storey building with much terracotta decoration on both facades. It was built in 1882 as the fashionable Orleans residential club, and in 1898 became the VictoriaHotel {24,83}. On the opposite promenade stands the former summer tourist information bureau, a delicate ironwork rotunda built as a promenade shelter in 1887; a shelter hall was constructed on the Lower Esplanade below at the same time {24,115}.
One of the most famous establishments of King’s Road was Muttons Hotel and Restaurant, opened by William Sexton Mutton between West Street and Russell Street in the 1840s. Almost an institution of Brighton society, it closed in 1929 and Kingswest was later built on the site, but it is remembered in Cuthbert Bede’s novel, Matins and Muttons {3}. At the corner of the former Russell Street once stood the Palladium Cinema. Built on the site of the Whitehall Livery Stables, it opened on 29 October 1888 as the Alhambra Opera House and Music Hall, and films were shown on the bill from 1897. On 6 April 1912 it reopened as the Grand Cinema de Luxe or Palladium Cinema, and a year later the last variety performance was given. Holding 1,200 people, the cinema was designed by Frank Matcham and had a lavish interior, a highly decorated exterior with balustrades, cupolas, statues and ironwork canopy, and a roof which could be opened in hot weather. Sound equipment was installed in July 1929, and in 1936 it was given a new Art Deco facade and became known briefly as the Odeon until the West Street Odeon opened the following year. The Palladium closed in May 1956 and the site now lies under the Brighton Centre {68,68a}.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • Once upon a time the Hotel Victoria, providing B&B to Sussex University students. Spent a more than interesting year 67/68 in a room overlooking the sea. Remember an Italian film crew spending a few days filming “Girl with a Gun” (the English title), the “girl” being Monica Vitti. Fish and chip shops galore, the Brighton Combination around the corner, the sea, the Palace pier: what a life!

    By John Byford (30/01/2012)
  • Very interesting. I’m curious about the buildings immediately to the east of Doctor Brighton’s. Does anybody know when they were constructed? Were they from about the same period as Dolphin Cottage?

    By Richard (19/05/2012)
  • Hi Richard, the buildings to the east of Dr. Brighton’s (formerly the Star & Garter) have been somewhat remodelled since they were originally built. For many years it was the Jeweller’s shop of Joseph Silvani and it can be seen in a drawing depicting the King’s Road seafront by William Delamotte from the mid 19th century. It is evident that the building had round bays at that time. Purely as an educated guess, I would say the building was originally constructed in the first quarter of the 19th century. Regards, Andy.

    By Andy Grant (21/05/2012)
  • John, do you remember the incident when the anarchist black flag was hung out of a window at the Victoria Hotel. A crowd gathered, followed by the subsequent appearance of the police.

    By Nick Heath (01/12/2016)
  • I finally located the hotel where I stayed for two weeks in the summer of 1982 on a business trip from America. It looks a lot different now- and may even have air-conditioning. When I stayed here, the sign on the front of the building said “Wheeler’s Sheridan Restaurant & Bar”. Does anyone have any more information on its history, or what it is now?

    By Ron Dougherty (10/02/2017)
  • Nick Heath has reminded me of an eventful Whitsun Bank Holiday in Spring 1968 when some of us had gathered in the first floor lounge of the Victoria. In the balmy sunshine the usual Bank Holiday crowds were taking in the sea air and enjoying being beside the sea side. Said black flag was a big one; two of us had braved a haberdashers in Western Road to buy what might have been blackout material left over from the War. 

    Someone had the bright idea of waving it from the balcony while another guy started an impromptu vaguely radical speech. People gathered near to the hotel to listen while further back a group of rockers amused themselves by unscrewing the coloured lightbulbs from the sea front illuminations and hurling them at us. It wasn’t long before we heard the cry, old bill is here.

    Six of us faced the music and were arrested for “action likely to cause a breach of the peace”. The following morning one of the six passed on the news that the charges had been dropped, Brighton didn’t want the adverse publicity.

    By John Byford (21/03/2017)
  • Hi, just wondered if you know anything about the Silver Hotel, at 92 King’s Road? I understand the Conference Centre is on the site now. My husband’s great aunt Eva Wilson died there in 1921, aged only 54. She was a successful London actress, and possibly a suffragette. I believe it may have been a nursing home, as she had another address, 40 Grenville place, Brighton.

    By Margaret Bailey (05/02/2018)
  • Silver Hotel was indeed just as you suggest. Kelly’s 1914 has, at no 92 Kings Rd, the ‘London & Brighton Medical & Surgical Nursing Home, Miss Bootle, matron’.

    By Geoffrey Mead (06/02/2018)
  • I used to work at the Sheridan in 1986, it was the best fun years of my life. 

    By Dawn (29/04/2018)
  • I worked there at the end of 1988 over Christmas to early 1989 as a working holiday from Australia, in a live in housekeeping team. Charlotte from Wales roomy, cannot find a trace about it now on google except this. Fun times, Brighton was a lovely spot. Wow thirty years ago

    By Claire Gaudry (02/08/2018)

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