Monday, 11 July 2016

Once a "House" of Repute in Sussex: The Brighton Tavern, Brighton

Beer retailer John Brown was operating in 1848 from what was then 100 Gloucester Lane, Brighton. The pub name first appears in 1877 when 45 year old William Pelling was the licensee with his wife Sarah. Its eventual owners, the Kemp Town Brewery, became evangelists for the cause of ‘public house improvement’ and in 1936/7 the premises were rebuilt and expanded to absorb the confectioners at No. 99. The shop area became a new Public Bar and what had hitherto been the public bar became a Private Bar. Both were entered through a newly built central lobby, which also gave access on the immediate left to a small Bottle and Jug. It was given a brick re-fronting in somewhat austere neo-Georgian style and has since suffered externally no more than the loss of its stepped parapet.

It is a rare example of a modernised Kemp Town Brewery house not designed by J. L. Denman - the architect was F. W. Pearcy. The black and white photograph of the original pub in the 'before and after' collage below is courtesy of the James Gray Collection. 

Although the tavern was most recently refurbished c. 2000, enough of the interwar interior work survives for CAMRA to consider the pub of regional heritage importance. Of the two left-side doors in the central entrance, the one still in use would have originally led to the Bottle and Jug: the seat has since been removed and a replacement counter top inserted. The old Public Bar retains a good brick fireplace, field panelled dados and curved counter with tiered and fluted bar back. The counter front in the old Private Bar is also original but its top and the basic back shelving are post-war. The toilets at the rear have been upgraded since I keeled over in the gents thirty years ago after starting the night on the home brew. They now provide a passage from one bar to the other that was not previously possible except via the ladies. The pub is popular with the LGBT community.