The Brighton and Hove International Exhibition

The Brighton and Hove International Exhibition opened on Monday 20 October 1889 in Hove on a site bounded by Holland Road, Rochester Gardens, Cromwell Road and the eastern boundary of the Sussex Cricket Ground.

Exhibition poster 1889
Exhibition poster 1889

Covering three acres, it was constructed of wood, corrugated iron, and glass. The main entrance was in Holland Road and the building consisted of a northern transept, which contained a bazaar, plus fourteen avenues running east and west of a central court (145 feet long by 80 feet wide).

An ‘illuminated fountain’ was the chief attraction of the Central Court. The Brighton Herald described it thus:

‘This jet of water, which rises to the roof, some 30 to 35 feet high, springs from a miniature lake in which goldfish disport themselves, and which is set in a belt of rockwork and ferns, studded all around with great plumes of pampas grass’

The Victoria Orchestra played in the Court band stand on a permanent basis but there were visiting bands too, such as those of the Royal Horse Guards and the Coldstream Guards. Alongside the central court was a Winter Garden where the Continental Restaurant was based.

1911 Map showing approximate site of exhibition
1911 Map showing approximate site of exhibition

Over two hundred and fifty exhibitors took part. Most were local companies but some also came from England’s big industrial cities with a few exhibitors visiting from the continent.

Amongst the exhibitors was Mr Clark of the Goldstone Bread factory, Hove, who had enlisted the services of Mr Jago, formerly head science master of the Brighton & Hove School of Science & Art, who made a special study of bread manufacture. Also present was Madame Stackardo, of the Art Shell Works, Portslade, who presided over a stall of ornamental articles made of shells and seaweed, and Mr Reed of North Street, who exhibited his stock of Whanger brass-ware. Messrs Long and Son’s (chemist) stall in the Central Hall was:

‘Rendered conspicuous by a large model of the Eiffel Tower, bedecked from top to bottom with tiny bottles of the Dorothy Bouquet scent.’

Various inventions and products were also represented such as Douse’s Patent Automatic Chemical Fire Check (an early form of sprinkler system), Mikado Moth Balls, and a mechanised sock darner.

Woven souvenir from the exhibition Stevengraph Collectors Association
Woven souvenir from the exhibition Stevengraph Collectors Association

The Exhibition closed on 4 January 1890 and was judged to be a great success. All had gone smoothly apart from an incident in which two of the stall holders, Antoine Konte and Albert Moyer, were accused of threatening (with a scythe and a file) an exhibition supervisor, who was inquiring into a complaint made against them.

Later that year, the exhibition buildings were converted and became the Olympiaroller-skating rink. A fire in August destroyed part of the structure. But when the owners applied to reconstruct the damaged section, they were refused permission by the Hove Commissioners and were told to have the building demolished by 1 January 1891.

No trace survives of this impressive building and the site is now covered by properties in Palmeira Avenue and Lansdowne Road.

Paul Jordan, Senior History Centre Officer

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