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When and where?

I found this photograph when trawling through a collection of images in the museum collection.

Is it 1950s maybe? But where was it?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this one


Electrical Exhibition
Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

Comments about this page

  • Interesting photo.  I would judge by the clothing that it might be closer to 1950 then 1850.  Just saying.

    By Peter Miller (15/12/2016)
  • There is a book titled ‘Proceedings of the Third British Electrical Power Convention: Brighton, 18th to 22nd June 1951’ (no author) that seems to tie in with the Festival of Britain in the same year but the dates don’t line up with the dates on the sign in the photo.
    The building in the photo appears to be a tented structure and placed on very clear ground, maybe a car park. Most open spaces in Brighton in that era were very tree-lined like the Level and Preston Park so it’s hard to guess where it may be.  Hopefully someone who was older than me in 1951 (just 6 years old) may have more idea.  It looks interesting.

    By Bob Catt (16/12/2016)
  • The car shown appears to date from mid 1932. The sign to the left reads Crompton Parkinson who were well-known makers of electrical equipment and traction batteries. It also seems to indicate that the Edison system was used. Edison Electricar. The vehicles in the hotel? car park behind are also pre-war. I would guess that this was one of the exhibitions held on The Level or in one of the gardens along the Hove end of the seafront.

    By Tim Sargeant (16/12/2016)
  • I beieve that The British Electrial Power Convention was held a couple of times in Eastbourne in the 1950s.  The seafront buildings in the background could fit in with this venue.

    By John (16/12/2016)
  • 1850? Nice car from so early, electricity was so cheap then as well.

    By Mick Peirson (16/12/2016)
  • I must admit that, like Bob, I am struggling to place this anywhere in Brighton and Hove, mainly because of the elevated buildings in the background.  It reminds me more of the seafront at Bournemouth, where the road runs quite sharply downhill towards the flat area of seafront by the pier.

    By Alan Hobden (16/12/2016)
  • Eastbourne is correct, the lawns in front of King Edward’s Parade, the buildings behind have exactly the same distinctive features!  It’s hard to judge the date, one side of WWII, a guess, just before!

    By Peter Groves (16/12/2016)
  • The 3rd annual BEP convention was held in Brighton in June 1951, as was the 7th in June 1955 and the 10th in June 1958. It was held at Eastbourne during June 1954. The picture cannot predate 1949, as that was the first year it was held. I believe the picture most probably shows the exhibition held at Eastbourne on Thu 10th and Fri 11th June, as the dates in the picture don’t seem to match any of those held in Brighton. When the 1958 exhibition was held in Brighton it was in the West Street car park.

    By Andy Grant (17/12/2016)
  • I have also come across a photo in the Brighton Museum collection which was not taken in Brighton and Hove!
    Peter, are the buildings in the background those of the Grand Hotel?

    By Alan Hobden (17/12/2016)
  • As a postscript to my earlier response, the 1951 BEP exhibition and convention was held in Brighton 18th – 23rd June on the Royal Pavilion estate, so definitely not that one.

    By Andy Grant (17/12/2016)
  • The BEP conventions were normally held during June.  The date above the entrance shows ‘Friday 17th’. Assuming that this is Friday 17th June, then the only years around that time that 17th June falls on a Friday are 1949 and 1955.  I would best guess the date as June 1949.

    By John (18/12/2016)
  • Hi Andy. The 10th and 11th June 1954 fell on a Thursday and Friday, so it would appear that the photo was indeed taken in 1954 in Eastbourne.

    By Alan Hobden (18/12/2016)
  • Alan, have a look at the buildings behind King Edward’s Parade Eastbourne on Google, the buildings are exactly the same! Where was the car park in West Street in 1958, I didn’t think there was a car park there at that time?

    By Peter Groves (18/12/2016)
  • Alan, when I zoom in on the dates, although they are somewhat blurred, I am definitely not getting the 11th for Friday.  My best guess fit is for the 17th, but my eyes are not what they used to be!

    By John (19/12/2016)
  • Hi Peter. I think you probably meant to direct your comment about the Brighton car park to Andy Grant, who raised that point.

    I happened to be in Eastbourne yesterday, so I took a look on the seafront. It was not possible to take a modern-day photo from the same position as the old one, because the lawns in front of King Edward Parade seem to have been partly take up by a zig-zag pathway at the western end, which leads down to the lower promenade. The flat area in the old photo is no longer there.

    My question to you on 18th December related to the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, and this building is indeed on the north side of King Edward Parade at that point, though trees have now grown up in the frontage, partly obscuring the hotel from people on the lawns. It has the same tall, round-topped windows seen in the old photo, so John (16th December) was right about Eastbourne. Regards, Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (19/12/2016)
  • Re. my last posting. I have now established that the !st convention was held in Torquay, 1949, 13th – 17th June.  
    So I guess the venue now rests in confirming the blurred date in the pic. Perhaps I should get out more often!

    By John (19/12/2016)
  • Hi Peter,

    All of the references I gave to the events were related verbatim from either adverts for the conferences or reportage upon them, so I can only offer the exact wording of the advert for 1958 was “British Electrical Power Convention, Brighton. Electrical Exhibitition, West Street Car Park. 10” (meaning starts at 10am) – I can’t add anything more to its location. The picture is most likely Eastbourne, as no other event appears to fit the dates, albeit they are open to interpretation. However, an advert for an exhibitor at at the Eastbourne event in 1954 states “Devonshire Park, 16th-18th June”. The conference itself ran from Monday 14th until Friday 18th June that year.


    By Andy Grant (20/12/2016)
  • I am pretty certain this is Torquay 1949, on the occasion of the 1st Britush Electrical Power Convention.

    The convention was held in The Pavilion, and the public exhibition in a marquee.  Between the Pavilon and the harbour is an area of flat ground (now a car park) which the marquee is on.

    The buiding with the distinctive architectural  features is The Marine Spa, sited the other side of the harbour on the seaward side of Beacon Hill.  This building no longer exists, the present Living Coasts aquarium being more or less where it was sited.

    By John (20/12/2016)
  • Hi John,
    You might well be right about the venue being Torquay, as the dates could possibly be read as 16th and 17th June, but as I have no knowledge of that area it is not possible for me to ascertain for certain.


    By Andy Grant (20/12/2016)
  • I can’t think of any car park in West Street at that time Andy.

    John its definitely Eastbourne!

    By Peter Groves (20/12/2016)
  • Peter, with respect, I beg to differ.

    I am certain it is Torquay.  The date and local topography match the photo exactly, whereas no such matches can be made for the Eastbourne theory.

    Look on-line at old postcards and photos of Torquay for that time, with particular reference to The Pavilion (there is documented evidence that this is where the 1949 convention was held), and The Marine Spa (the distinctive building in the backgound of the photo).

    As a starter go to and search for picture ref ER5B3G.

    The Marine Spa is the building just below the warship.  The Pavilion is the building bottom right.  Between the Pavilion and the harbour is a small piece of land (not visible in this view) that the Marqee would have been on.

    If you closely inspect the right hand side of the photo that started this discussion, you can just make out the harbour wall, with vehicles above,  running across the picture.

    By John (21/12/2016)
  • John, the 16th and 17th June 1949 fell on Thursday and Friday, so they fit the Torquay Convention dates. I can see Fri 17 in the old photo, but the Thurs date is not clear on my screen.

    Added to this, there definitely appears to be a roadway leading down from the skyline building on the extreme left, with vehicles parked both at the top and bottom of the slope. Was there such a roadway?

    There also appears to be a lower level building, with coaches parked nose-in towards it. This was a feature of the old Marine Spa at Torquay, as shown in old photos on the internet.

    The buildings at Eastbourne are not set sufficiently high up to allow such a sloping roadway, hence my problem trying to recreate the scene there.

    By Alan Hobden (21/12/2016)
  • I agree with Alan and John. There are a number of old Torquay postcards which show those background buildings on the harbour side.

    By Janet Beal (22/12/2016)
  • Well done John. I could only find this reverse view of the Marine Spa, Torquay, but it shows the sloping roadway, and the small piece of land jutting out in the distance, where the marquee was erected in 1949.      Image: epw023716

    It also shows the very distinctive, tall, double windows of the Spa, as opposed to those of the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, which are triple windows.

    Sorry Peter. Eastbourne looked a good bet for a while, but there were too many anomalies.

    One of the most interesting non-Brighton & Hove photos yet, Jennifer!  Kind regards, Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (22/12/2016)
  • Whoops!!!  In the last paragrapgh of my previous posting I should have said  ’  ….  closely inspect the left-hand side of the photo …’ not the right-hand side.

    Happy Christmas to you all.

    By john (22/12/2016)
  • John / Alan you are correct, I have examined all you say and its not Eastbourne, I agree its Torquay, apologies to you, and have a great Christmas and New Year!

    By Peter Groves (22/12/2016)
  • I have been following this discussion with interest; I think Torquay 1949 must be correct. The newest car I can make out is an Austin A40 Devon, introduced in 1947 but most went for export and few were on the home market until 1948, (Top left beside the black support pole. Replaced by the Somerset model in 1952) There is also a Bradford van, possibly an Austin 16, and other vehicles from this period and earlier.

    At Torquay there is a very steep hill which comes down to the harbour road and now has traffic lights at the junction which would be to the extreme left of this picture. I was up at the top there in the summer. Furthermore, in 1954 it became compulsory to have two red reflectors at the rear of any vehicle, the car shown doesn’t have these so must pre-date that. I remember making up hundreds of little brackets to fit these reflectors to the bumper bolts of older cars at that time as they had to be at a certain height and distance in from the sides. Two rear lights didn’t become compulsory on older vehicles until 1957 although we did start to fit pairs of rear lights before that because the little ‘D’ shaped light which also illuminated the number plate no longer complied with the regulations as these were too far from the outer edge of most vehicles.

    I think we were mis-led into thinking ‘Brighton’, which begs the question, what is a Torquay photo doing in the Brighton museum?

    Editor’s note:Because it was mis-categorised – like many others in the collection.

    By Tim Sargeant (22/12/2016)
  • Following on from John’s earlier comment, I think we can all get out more now.

    I hear that Torquay can be quite pleasant at this time of year!

    Happy Christmas everyone. Alan

    By Alan Hobden (24/12/2016)

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