The Astra Club - Brighter Brighton

Illustration of entertainment review

Click on each extract to open it in photo gallery view

A little while ago Chris Monson contributed material on the ‘Brighter Brighton Costume Concert Party’ of which a relative of his was a member. Having read the page, one of our long time contributors Len Liechti, responded with the news that his grandmother had been a singer, dancer, comedienne, and a member of Easter & Vernon’s Brighter Brighton Concert Party.

Intrigued by the Brighter Brighton idea, Andy Grant, another long-time contributor and one of our online local historians, decided to look into it. Having looked through his extensive collection of material relating to Brighton and Hove, he found the article which is reproduced above. It would appear that ‘Brighter Brighton’ was a theme adopted to counter the post-war depression and was staged by a number of performing companies at different venues. The ‘Astra Club’ mentioned above, was at 68, Middle Street, in what had previously been the Ministry of Pensions building.

The caption for the illustration here is:

He:   “Lost anything Miss?”
She: “No – er – that is, I’ve forgotten where to find this Brighter Brighton.”

Comments about this page

  • A couple of things to add here:’Brighter Brighton’ was also the name of a local ‘celeb’ magazine of the early 1920s full of lovely gossip and local info and adverts. There is a collection of several years in the Brighton History Centre. Worth a read if you need a lighter look at a period of dire economic gloom and despondancy…sounds familiar…or what! The second point is that the Astra Club was part of the Argyle Hotel complex at the junction of Middle St and Kings Rd. In the 1950s it featured prominently in the Brighton Police corruption scandal. Read ex-police sergeant Dave Rowlands book ‘Bent Coppers’ for details. In the 1960s it was the venue of the 42 Club, a post-legislative gay venue. It was probabaly a gay club long before the 1960s reforms. I think each floor had a differently named club or bar operating from it and even by this town’s louche standards the Astra/Argyle was sailing close to the wind!

    By Geoffrey Mead (02/08/2012)
  • Hi Geoff, The original Astra Club was a very ephemeral establishment, founded in 1924 at 68, Middle Street, in the former Ministry of Pensions Building, virtually alongside the Synagogue (the article above is dated from that year). The Argyle Mansion Hotel was somewhat further towards King’s Road at 177/8. By 1926, the Astra Club had ceased to exist and the premises were now called the Brighton Club, changing again in 1928 to the Piccadilly Club, before being taken over by a coach company (Grey Coaches Ltd.). The club you allude to that featured prominently in the Police corruption case was the Astor Club (aka Astor Hotel) in King’s Road, opened in 1954 by Alan Roy Bennett (aka Brown). The club briefly moved to the corner of South Street before closing around 1959. Regards, Andy

    By Andy Grant (03/08/2012)
  • Andy, thanks for the clarification. I knew about the Astor, I just assumed (incorrectly) that Astra and Astor and Argyle were variations of the same club. All in a decidedly dodgy area, both morally and visually. The premises of the Astor still has a decidedly seedy appearance today. When I was 18 I became a member of the Carousel Club which was in a basement on the south side of South St. I missed out the words ‘dingy and pokey’….I only went once.

    By Geoffrey Mead (05/08/2012)
  • In my book on-line free ‘Roccoco Days and Nights’ you will see that I was the pianist for a time in the 60s at the Argyle Hotel. I also cooked the breakfasts, made the beds and anything else that needed doing. It was a very happy place to work in.

    By Mike Lang (25/09/2013)

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