On May 16 & 17 BHT Heritage delivered two guided history trails for the public during the Brighton Fringe Festival.
The trails, which were co-facilitated by two client reps, started at Brighton Town Hall where visitors learnt about the first legislation of 1349, and how society’s attitude towards homelessness and poverty was that it was the fault of the individual; a result of idleness and vice. The Heritage Officer also shared that this site was where the town’s first workhouse stood.
The trail then visited Pavilion Gardens, where a client rep spoke about the size of the town during the late 1700’s and drew attention to the close proximity of the workhouse to the future King’s seaside residence.
Next stop was Church Street, where visitors were told about the new purpose-built workhouse that was developed on Church Hill in 1822. From this location, the trail meandered through to the Old Slippers Baths and on to Cheltenham Place. The campaigns of Harry Cowley were discussed at this point, as well as the opening of a third workhouse on Race Hill, which converted to a hospital for wounded Indian soldiers during the First World War.
On its way to Kew Street the group took a breather on North Road and heard about the Labour government’s welfare reforms following the Second World War. Spring Gardens was also pointed out at this stage; the location of the first soup kitchen in Brighton in 1829.
From Kew Street the group looked across to Brighton General Hospital, the former Race Hill Workhouse, and learnt about how the casual ward became a resettlement unit which remained open until 1991.
The penultimate stop was at St Nicholas Churchyard, where the visitors were able to look across to the former site of Church Hill Workhouse.
At First Base the group learnt about the emergence of charities across the city during the 1960’s – 90’s, and about facilities offered at the day centre for people who are street homeless in Brighton and Hove today.
The trails were attended by 35 members of the public.
Stimulating walk and talk – gave me new insight
Brilliant tour explaining the history of homelessness in Brighton