Visiting on days off from work
For me, the Brighton History Centre (when it was situated in the old Reference and Local Studies Library) was a life-changer. I’ve always been a keen Albion supporter, and in 1981, while working shifts as a BBC communications engineer in London, I began visiting the library on days off to extract match information from local newspapers, with a view to publishing. I met Roger Harris there doing the same thing, and we collaborated successfully to produce ‘Seagulls!’ (1993) and ‘Albion A-Z’ (1997).
A useful local history book
But I also began to read newspaper items unrelated to football and made notes, realising the information could make a useful local history book. The mid 80s weren’t the best for football, and I’d had enough of London, so I returned to Brighton and diverted into full-time research. I spent months examining library material, visited every street, and collated it nightly on a BBC Micro home computer.
Original run of 300 photocopies
I had many rejections from publishers, but then the library made 300 photocopies for schools and libraries. It was Christmas 1990 – they also put a few on sale which went like ‘hot cakes’. Many reprints later ‘The Encyclopaedia of Brighton’ had sold 7,000 copies. That’s why it was never printed ‘properly’.
The New Encyclopaedia of Brighton
I resisted recent moves to republish it as a ‘proper’ book without an updated text, but now Rose Collis is updating it for publication in 2010. I wouldn’t be where I am today as a local or Albion historian without the Brighton History Centre.