Thursday, 23 October 2014

Royal Hues, Top to Bottom and Sea Structure

"Royal Hues" :- It's iconic, it's world famous and it's instantly recognisable and has become a symbol for Brighton itself. This is a close up of part of the Royal Pavilion, photographed back in November 2013 as it was floodlit for the end of the year. It's not until you are right up against the stone work that you realise just how much attention to detail the British architect John Nash (1752 – 1835) incorporated into his grand designs for the "Marine Pavilion". It's ornate filigree stonework is stunning and every column is carved near the base. Those living in Brighton pass it on a daily basis without giving it much thought which is a shame as I think it's truly one of the greatest architectural achievements in Britain.

"Top to Bottom" :- Chalk. Loads of it. It forms a vast part of the Southern coast of England and much of the coastline of Britain. We draw on the stonework with it, scrawling vaguely amusing things on walls or declare our undying love for somebody or other. We never seem to stop to think about it. It's there and that's that. It's chalk...big deal. But it's ancient. It didn't just arrive on the scene. Chalk comes from the Cretaceous Period which means in basic terms that it's (approximately) 105 million years old. Wikipedia ( has this to say about it :- "Ninety million years ago the chalk downland of Northern Europe was ooze accumulating at the bottom of a great sea. Protozoans such as foraminifera lived on the marine debris that showered down from the upper layers of the ocean. Their shells were made of calcite extracted from the rich sea-water. As they died a deep layer gradually built up and eventually, through the weight of overlying sediments, became consolidated into rock. Later earth movements related to the formation of the Alps raised these former sea-floor deposits above sea level." So next time you see "Craig loves Sharon" written on a sea wall or you happen to be walking by a large cliff face take some time to think how it got here.

"Sea Structure" :- Nowadays we have trouble building or making anything that last more than a few years or decades. Things have a built in life expectancy. They are destined to die, decay or crumble. The Victorians had other and far greater ideas. They wanted their structures to be a testament to the Victorian age. It was a time of industrial revolution and of great changes and they wanted to shout about it loud enough so that the world would still be able to hear them a 100 years in the future. In France a construction commenced on January 28th 1887 which eventually opened it's doors to the public for "The Exposition Universelle" in 1889. It was only meant to be a temporary construction...they built it so well that to this day the Eiffel Tower still stands in the City of Paris having watched much of the City evolve and change around it. Inspired by the tower in Paris a 158 metre (518 feet) tower was built in Blackpool in Lancashire, England. That tower opened to the public on 14 May 1894 and like the Eiffel Tower is still standing today and entertaining the public. Britain saw the Victorians go mad for building piers from it's beaches. They'd discovered that they could do pretty much anything with iron so they tried to do just that. The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier was designed designer by R.St.George Moore and opened to the public in May 1899. For well over 100 years it's stood with its huge legs in the sea. It's endured raging storms and heavy seas for all that time. It's been frozen in deep snow and ice and it's been warmed up during heatwaves (yes...we have had some). Wind, rain and corrosive salt water battering it. Still it stands. It's a remarkable feat of engineering that we'd have trouble replicating nowadays. Somehow the Victorians knew how to build things that would stand the tests of time. They built them to outlive not just the Victorian age but all ages.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill