Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Quadrant, Brighton

Occupying a landmark position opposite the clock tower, the block of buildings that originally formed North Street Quadrant was erected c.1854. Numbers 12 and 13 were initially separate premises accommodating, at various times, a naturalist, wireworker, coal company office and a grocer and cheesemaker. They became conjoined as the Quadrant Hotel in 1864. Of four storeys and roughly wedge-shaped, the top three floors are stucco covered with the roof obscured by a parapet. The Quadrant closed for a period of time when the block was redeveloped some several years ago. Saved by its English Heritage Grade II listing of 30th March 1999, the pub reopened in 2007.

The ground floor exterior has, in the words of the listed description, “composite pilasters of grey granite supporting fascia with modillion cornice and console stops.” The TOM BOVEY, WINE & SPIRIT IMPORTER signs are of genuine late-Victorian vintage uncovered during the reopening. People with sharp eyes will note they were designed by S. JONES & COMPY (PATENT FASCIA), KINGS ┼ LONDON. N. Tom Bovey was the landlord of the Quadrant at the turn of the 20th century, the period when the extant lower bar was fitted. His wife, Carrie Bovey, carried on the license until 1938.

The interior is on split-levels, the lower section at the south end being the attraction with some c. 1900 fittings. There is a moulded ceiling, panelled semi-circular chunky counter and a brick and wood surround fireplace between bar front and stairs. At the rear exit to Air Street is a bowed staircase screen with a pair of engraved glass panels, one a replacement. Across the central circular servery is a carved bar gantry that according to the listed description has an “unusual central arch with scrolled brackets and ornate pediment over [and] mirror-panels to either side flanked by fluted Ionic columns supporting bowed entablatures and mirror-glass to toplights.”

The flat-arched front entrance to the lower bar is set back with old panelled and glazed door with a wrought-iron screen over the porch. The left flank wall of the porch has glazed, moulded and coloured tiles. In the curved window at the right can be detected the faint outline of applied letting once painted onto the glass:

The Quadrant
Saloon Lounge
Choice Wines and Spirits

Accessed either from the lower bar or by the north east door is the higher level bar, post-war and plain, with the counter being a copy of that in the lower area. The first-floor room, once called the Clock Tower Bar, and before that the Crystal Rooms, now contains nothing of interest, but architect’s plans for first floor alterations of April 1950 do have the virtue of showing how the ground floor bars were then laid out.

The Saloon Bar, now at the lower level, was in 1950 partitioned off from the rest of the pub and entered from either the front porch or the Air Street stairwell. A lift was situated mid-way along the south facing wall. The Public Bar, now the top bar, was entered either from the existing north east door or by what was a matching front porch entrance to that still existing to the Saloon Bar. At the north-west corner was a Private Bar, adjacent to and of similar size to the Public Bar. Running from the middle of the circular counter to the north wall was a partition with a doorway both separating and giving internal access to these two north bars.

Including the two matching porch doorways along the front, there were, then, six entrances to the Quadrant, only three of which are now in use. Part of the space that the Private Bar then occupied has been incorporated into the top bar but the remainder is behind the resituated internal west wall.
Walk around into Air Street to see the two blocked up doorways that once led into the Private Bar. I would guess that the bar counter in the top bar was replaced when the Private Bar fell into disuse, the room partitions were removed and the front porch entrance to the Public Bar was replaced by the windows and frontage we now see along that side.

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