THE BOOK OF BRIGHTON AS IT WAS & AS IT IS by Chas H Ross (Queenspark Books, £10.99 + p&p; queenspark­books. SUS­SEX IN­DUS­TRIAL HER­ITAGE

Sussex Life - - Front Page - By Colin Tyson (Am­ber­ley Pub­lish­ing, £14.99)

An author’s note pro­claims that “this book is not in­tended to be quite ex­actly a guide to Brighton... I can hardly tell what it is sup­posed to be, but of one thing I do feel quite cer­tain – you ought to buy it.”

These words were printed in 1881, and taken se­ri­ously by Queenspark Books, who have pro­duced a fac­sim­ile of this witty take on Brighton, com­plete with ad­ver­tise­ments and il­lus­tra­tions.

Writer and car­toon­ist Chas Henry Ross pays trib­ute to his­to­ri­ans be­fore him and retells many fa­mous Brighton tales, but it is his own Vic­to­rian view of lo­cal char­ac­ters, places and habits which make this book so en­ter­tain­ing. Whether posit­ing that “shin­gle is some­what un­con­ge­nial to the toe” or de­scrib­ing the Royal Pavil­ion’s “cold bare rooms”, his thoughts are as read­able now as then. With its shapely Downs, river val­leys and breezy coast­line, Sus­sex is rightly cel­e­brated as a place of ru­ral beauty and coastal charm. But it has a sig­nif­i­cant her­itage of in­dus­trial ac­tiv­ity, too.

While the county was never in “the van­guard of in­dus­trial progress”, says author Colin Tyson, the old craft in­dus­tries flour­ished, un­til chang­ing eco­nomic re­al­i­ties saw their grad­ual de­cline. Now, he ar­gues, Bri­tain is “firmly in a post-in­dus­trial phase” and links with the work­ing lives of our an­ces­tors are dis­tant.

That’s why this splen­did book is so valu­able, not only for its de­tailed rec­ol­lec­tions of Sus­sex in­dus­tries past, but also for its mag­nif­i­cent col­lec­tion of pho­to­graphs show­ing sur­viv­ing and ac­ces­si­ble in­dus­trial sites – from malt­houses to wa­ter­mills, chalk quar­ries to brick­works, work­shops to ware­houses, and many more.

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