A potted history

Where can you find cheap housing in Brighton? In Victorian times, the answer lay in crowded slums near the town centre.

Slum clearance
Brighton Corporation began clearing these slums in the 1870s. At first, the occupants were not re-housed. From 1900, people were moved into new housing estates on the outskirts of Brighton. The estates provided modern comforts, but rents were high, and there were no shops or pubs. As an alternative, the Council built twenty high-rise blocks during the 1960s and 1970s.

Out-of-town development
For the private market, Victorian builders constructed Brighton’s rows of terraced houses, rented for £10-20 a year (about £500-£1000 in 2001). Developers later moved out of town, creating larger suburban villas and ‘tudorbethan’ estates, decorated in pebbledash and mock wooden beams.

Today, with no space to build new houses, many grand seafront buildings, most notably Embassy Court, have been split up into flats to provide Brighton’s cheapest bedsit accommodation.

Comments about this page

  • Embassy Court is a purpose built block of appartments and hasn’t been ‘split up’. It is the Regency and Victorian town houses that have been.

    By Madelaine Horrocks (02/10/2006)
  • Amongst the more famous residents known to have lived at Embassy Court were the actors Laurence Olivier, Rex Harrison and Diana Dors and the writer Graham Greene, whose novel Brighton Rock helped establish his reputation as a significant 20th century novelist. No doubt, these famous residents attracted famous friends. It is easy to imagine Embassy Court, in its heyday, as the setting for a Noel Coward play. See the Embassy Court website for the restoration project.

    By Anne Baker (17/01/2007)
  • Can anyone help please. I am writing a book set in Brighton in the early 1930s. I need to know if slum clearance was happening then and where people were re housed. I would be grateful for any help. I have a three book publishing deal and all three books will be set in Brighton.


    By Sandy Goldsmith (16/03/2015)

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