Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Ladies Mile, Brighton

A purpose-built estate pub, the Ladies Mile dates from c. 1934. The central gable with relief carving roundel of horse-riding figure accompanied by hounds explains the name: the land was once a measured terrain for female equestrians. A projecting colonnade produces a pleasing deco curvature to the front elevation. The continental coalescence of graceful curvature, geometrical patterns and sleek lines we now call Art Deco found its British apotheosis in Odeon cinemas and certain London underground stations but was not favoured for pubs. The design of ‘improved’ interwar public houses typically tended towards Brewers’ Tudor and neo-Georgian, producing comfortably conservative and nostalgic visions of ‘Merrie England’ and the Coaching Era, so surviving pub interior deco work such as that found at the Ladies Mile is particularly rare.

The central Saloon Bar vestibule and left-side disused Public Bar entrance (now a fire-escape) both retain fine brass plates and curved-cornered windows. Another ex-door on the right denotes that the pub was originally built with three separate bars; the internal walls were knocked through to create one lengthy room c. 1967/8. Marking the old divisions is a couple of back-to-back original fireplaces in grey marble; three of the four sides bear a carved horse-rider panel in the quality wood surround.

A horse rider motif again appears in the central panel of the long, gently curving counter. Although original, this counter now runs the full length of the pub though the old wall divisions and it would appear that that the central part was truncated and the two ends re-situated to create what we now see.
The back-fittings are mostly original although the gantry is a 1960s addition. The Art Deco statuette as a counter-top centrepiece is some 18 inches high and inscribed with the maker’s name, Roche. The banquette seating with its statuettes was probably fitted in 1960 when the pub was acquired by the Brighton-based brewery, Tamplins. At each end of the pub the toilets retain their deco doors; the interiors of the Gents and Ladies on the left are largely intact. But by far the most striking feature appears above your head on entering the pub: a six-sided stained-glass skylight in red, lime and gold.

Also visit the right-side free-standing brick-built function hall with barrel-vaulted roof. The front lobby retains its terrazzo floor and many original features of the toilets. The main room was once divided by a folding wall. Both the bar-back and counter are also original but the latter lies under a 1960s re-fronting.

The Ladies Mile, 2 Mackie Avenue, Patcham, Brighton, BN1 8RA.

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