Pearce’s Brighton Guide 1861

Brighton Guide 1861
Brighton Guide 1861

Pearce’s Brighton Guide set out to woo the potential tourist with its bright orange cover, coloured street map, and its illustrations of the Old Steine and the Royal Pavilion. It assumed that the modern traveller would arrive by railway and thus described the route from London to Brighton noting that once the visitor had arrived:

Railway Carrier
Railway Carrier

‘to the sea then we shall at once conduct him and shall afterwards endeavour… to point out all the objects of interest in and near this “Queen of Watering Places”.’

Advice was given about places to stay and aside from the more fashionable accommodation on the seafront, apartments could be obtained in ‘respectable houses’ in Gardner or Bond Street for six or seven shillings a week.

Brighton Map
Brighton Map

The guide offered the tourist various descriptive tours of the town including a walk along the promenade to the Chain Pier. The promenade itself was to be swallowed up a few years later by the construction of the Aquarium, which opened in 1872. Visitors were directed to the souvenir shops on the pier and the steps that once led to the Dieppe bound steam packets, before Brighton lost the route to Newhaven and Shoreham.

Hot Air Baths
Hot Air Baths

Various visitor attractions were listed, such as the ‘Roman or Turkish hot air baths’ at 65 Western Road, tennis at the Bedford Hotel, racing at the Brighton Race-course in August and sea bathing from bathing machines, which cost a shilling per person or six pence for a child. For the less energetic, there were a number of reading rooms where a copy of the Brighton Times could be found by those seeking the ‘fashionable arrival list’. The Royal Brighton Literary & Scientific Institution was located adjacent to the Albion Hotel and the Chess Club met on the Chain Pier.

Surgeon Dentist
Surgeon Dentist

The back pages of the guide carry a number of advertisements for local businesses, including one for Mr. Morganti, a dentist who supplied:

‘A good set of TEETH on the new Vulcanite principle – £5’

Schweitzer & Co., chemists of King’s Road offered Franken’s Celebrated Stuttgart Water and Cocoatina (a chocolate drink) which was recommended for those with ‘weakness of the stomach’ and became ‘exceedingly delicious’ when Brandy or Wine were added.

This line from the guide book may be as equally applicable to the visitor of 2011 as it was to the one in 1861:

Pavilion Parade
Pavilion Parade

‘the visitor who has for weeks or months been confined to the impure atmosphere of the close streets of London, will be delighted to breathe the pure sea air’

Paul Jordan, Senior History Centre Officer

One Response

  1. I am wondering if this is a relative, I have a photo taken by my Grandmother Pearce taken of her grandmother with Her bathing machines in the early 1900’s near Black Rock. Before she thought Brighton Corporation bought her off the beach for the extension to Volkes Railway. Any information may help with my research.

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