Monday, 1 August 2011

Colonnade Bar, Brighton

By 1854 a John Edwin had turned these premises, previously occupied by a boot maker, into the Colonnade Stores Refreshment Rooms and two years later, Wine and Supper Rooms. A hotel designation first appears in directories in 1859. This has been for many years the ground-floor bar to the (Georgian) Theatre Royal and is today operated by the Golden Lion Group. The green-painted elegant Edwardian façade is recessed under a flattened archway with decorative spandrels and pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals. Looking out from a central projecting bay is ‘Willie’ an antique automated mannequin dressed for the theatre in top hat and tails, carrying a cane.

On the narrow strips of far wall are tiled panels painted and signed by Webb & Co., 294 Euston Road, London, N. W. Each carries a thistle design in turquoise and rust on cream with the centrepiece advertising THE COLONNADE HOTEL. The now defunct left-hand door and those skylights above are inset with deep etched glass. The single room interior has depth but is narrowed by the Edwardian servery down the left hand side, the decorative features of which match the exterior façade. The carved three-bay bar back has arched framed mirrors and a small glass panel at the centre painted with Britannia figure trade mark. Brass rails line both top and bottom of the carved counter. Along the wall opposite runs a row of lamp-illuminated timber framed mirrors, having the desired effect of making the room appear larger than it is.

Above is a red decorative plaster ceiling with moulded cornice at the rear and a short partition with etched-glass by the entrance door. There was probably a matching partition the other side, creating a Private Bar, when the left-door was in use. At the front and back of the room is upholstered bench seating, contemporaneous perhaps (1950s or 1960s) with the padded panels covering the counter front. It is easy to feel so cosily cocooned within these soft-lit surroundings of autographed photographs of actors, ancient playbills, sumptuous curtain swags and red plush décor at the Colonnade Bar, 10 New Road, Brighton, East Sussex.

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