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The Brighton Aquarium

Brighton's Theatres Index

The Aquarium & Marine Parade, Brighton - From a postcard sent in 1926

Above - The Aquarium & Marine Parade, Brighton clearly displaying a Vaudeville sign - From a postcard sent in 1926

 

Eugenius Birch designed the first English recreational aquarium for a site on Brighton sea front; it opened in August 1872. It was a large and influential structure costing £130,000, and at the time was given as an exemplar in the architectural journals when such buildings were discussed, which was rarely. Not only were resorts by definition provincial, but entertainment buildings had an ephemeral image in comparison to ecclesiastical work or public buildings.

The Brighton Aquarium in 2009 - Courtesy Stephen Ashby

Above - The Brighton Aquarium in 2009 - Courtesy Stephen Ashby

Birch, whose Brighton West Pier was completed in 1866, was inspired by the aquarium at Boulogne and other continental examples to suggest the erection of a similar structure in England. A Parliamentary Act was procured in 1868 to obtain the site needed by the Brighton Marine Aquarium Company, and work began in 1869. Birch’s original design included a number of towers and turrets, but this was rejected because of the deleterious effect on sea views; in the final plan the Aquarium was set into the cliff face and topped by a promenade. Its terracotta facade was Italianate in style, and its decorative though dim interior soon became a popular meeting place, where ladies and gentlemen could talk, lunch, read the papers, listen to music and even study the fish...

Above text courtesy Lynn Pearson from 'The People's Palaces, Britain's Seaside Pleasure Buildings 1870-1914.'

Advertisement from the Era Almanack for Arthur Lloyd and Katty King at the Aquarium, Brighton in the Pantomime "Prince Brilliantine, or The Little Beauty and the Big Beast" (Written by Arthur Lloyd) from Christmas to February 11th 1889 - Courtesy Jennifer Carnell.

Above - Advertisement from the Era Almanack for Arthur Lloyd and Katty King at the Aquarium, Brighton in the Pantomime "Prince Brilliantine, or The Little Beauty and the Big Beast" (Written by Arthur Lloyd), from Christmas to February 11th 1889 - Courtesy Jennifer Carnell.

Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed here in 1881, 1886, 1887, 1889

 

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