10 fun facts about Brighton
Located on the south coast of England, less than an hour from London by train, Brighton is one of the UK’s most popular destinations.
Whilst it has long been known as a seaside resort, there is far more to Brighton than just fish and chips on the beach!
Here are a few fun facts to give you an insight into this vibrant, historic and diverse city.
1. 'Brighton' is not the city's full name
An important first fact is that Brighton is actually formally known as the city of Brighton and Hove. The towns of Brighton and Hove formed a unitary authority in 1997 and were granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001. Many locals still consider the two to be separate towns.
2. Brighton was the backdrop to ABBA's Eurovision success
Most people don't know that when the Swedish band ABBA won the Eurovision song contest with ‘Waterloo’ in 1974, it was in Brighton! The event was held at the Brighton Dome concert hall, still a popular arts venue today.
3. Brighton borders the UK's newest national park
Another fact which visitors to the UK may not know is that although Brighton is a coastal city, you only need to travel 10 minutes outside of the city to reach the South Downs – the UK's newest national park.
4. Brighton is home to Britain's oldest cinema
A well-known landmark in Brighton is the historic Duke of York’s cinema – it's reputed to be the oldest cinema in continuous use in Britain, and offers cosy, theatre-esque surroundings in which to watch the latest releases and re-runs of the all-time classics.
5. Brighton is home to a well-loved fictional detective
Detective Inspector Roy Grace is the main character in a series of crime novels by best-selling author Peter James. All of the books are set in and around Brighton, and so far the novels have been published in over 30 different languages!
6. Many actors, musicians and other public figures have lived in Brighton
Today Brighton is considered a very desirable place to live, and walking around you may recognise some famous faces! Brighton's creative vibe has always attracted artists, actors and musicians in particular, with Sir Paul McCartney, Nick Cave, Adele, Noel Gallagher, Fat Boy Slim, and even Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett all having owned homes in Brighton at some point or other. Speaking about Brighton, Cate Blanchett is quoted as saying, 'I miss Brighton enormously, enormously. There is so much I miss, including rain. I miss the verdant countryside.'
7. Brighton has a nickname
Thanks to its cosmopolitan nature, Brighton is sometimes also referred to as 'London by Sea'. Brighton first became fashionable amongst day-trippers and holidaymakers from London in the late 1700s, when the then Prince of Wales, who became King George IV, became a regular visitor. The palace he built, a beautiful Indian and Oriental inspired building called the Royal Pavilion, is one of England’s most unique landmarks.
8. Brighton is the only town in Britain with a Grade I listed pier
In the UK, so-called 'listed' buildings are recognised as having an historical interest and are therefore legally protected from change or demolition. Brighton’s West Pier is one such building despite these days being derelict. Opened in 1866, it originally started life as a promenade for well-to-do Victorians, but by World War I had evolved into a pleasure pier with rides and a concert hall. Although no longer joined to land, and completely derelict after decades of disuse, its distinctive shell remains one of the city's most iconic landmarks.
9. The Brighton Sealife Centre is the world's oldest aquarium
Dating back to 1872, the Sealife Centre on Brighton's seafront is the world's oldest aquarium. With over 100 species, including sharks and stingrays, and vast tanks of local and tropical marine life, there is plenty to discover. You can also walk through England's longest underwater observation tunnel!
10. Brighton has tunnels beneath it!
Brighton is rumoured to have numerous lost tunnels but there is one from the Royal Pavilion to the museum and Dome today which you can still see. This was reputedly so the Prince Regent could move about Brighton without people seeing how overweight he had become!