When the Revolution hits Brighton there will be no more estate agents, no more luxury holiday flats, and homelessness will be a thing of the past. Empty lots will become free adventure playgrounds, the seafront’s amusement arcades will be bulldozed and replaced with sandy beaches, and toys will be shared collectively – or so argues Brighton Voice, the radical local newspaper in circulation 1973-1989 (making it one of the longest-running alternative papers in the UK).
Back issues of Brighton Voice are available to browse at Brighton History Centre, and offer a fascinating insight into Brighton’s alternative and campaigning scene in the 1970s-80s. The paper, illustrated with satirical cartoons, includes real-life stories of local residents suffering injustice at the hands of landlords or prejudice in the workplace for being gay. It gives readers the ‘tip-off’ on where to get hold of Indian wraparound skirts (knock on the purple door down a side-street off the Lewes Road), reports how the local Women’s Lib group infiltrated the 1973 Miss Brighton pageant, and names and shames landlords and public officials suspected of misbehaviour or corruption.
‘Don’t wait around for the Revolution to happen elsewhere’, argues Brighton Voice, ‘make revolution happen in Brighton through local protest and local action.’
Some of the successful featured campaigns include the fight to turn Queen’s Park Spa into a nursery instead of a proposed casino, saving Brighton’s historic railway station, and stopping a flyover that would have demolished the heart of theNorth Laine. Less successfully, the paper backed the campaign against theMarina development.
Happily, some of the newspaper’s ‘utopian’ dreams that have been realised in the city include bus lanes, toy libraries, ‘clean paddling pools and open air swings’, and free nursery places.
Established in 1973, the original team of two staff grew to over 50 at its peak. The paper ran as a collective, printed in an anarchist vegetarian café on Victoria Road, and sold on the street and in outlets throughout the city (including Kemptown Books and Infinity Foods). Many of its writers went on to work in national mainstream media and one became a peer and Chief Whip in the House of Lords. Brighton Voice is only one of a range of alternative local newspapers available to read at Brighton History Centre.
Anna Kisby, Brighton History Centre