Here at Screen and Film School, we’re fortunate enough to be able to call Brighton, with all of its seaside wonders and coastal treasures, our home.
A third of our whole world exists on the sunny south coast, from where we send virtual waves and hugs to our friends further north, at Screen and Film School Birmingham and Screen and Film School Manchester.
We marvel at the creativity we see all around us as we move about the city – there is no better place anywhere in the south to have a school dedicated to the craft of film and TV production. Last week we shared news of our psychedelic surfboard installation, which now has pride of place at our flagship building, which itself is just a short walk from the beach.
In this, the first of a series of blog pieces to follow up the celebratory surfboard, we take a look at some of the lesser known facts which are attached to our world famous pebble beach. We pass by it, stroll around it and see it on our social media feeds every day, but surely it still holds some secrets beneath its rocks? Here’s our top five:
1. Let’s start with a bang: Brighton’s naturist beach, which is discreetly hidden over a huge camel hump of stones halfway between the Pier and the Marina, was the country’s first when it opened in 1980. Not that that will come as a huge shock to anybody who knows the real DNA of Brighton: every year since 2006 we have joined World Naked Bike Rides events, which take place around the world to celebrate cycling and the human body. The ride demonstrates the vulnerability of cyclists on the road, is a protest against car culture, and finishes up on the beach – where participants have the choice of heading straight to the oldest naturist beach in the country to unwind!
2. Our beautiful, seagull-swarmed Palace Pier, which proudly juts out to sea at the bottom of the Old Steine thoroughfare, is over 1760 feet long – that’s 85 miles of wooden boards! Not only that, the pull of the arcades, funfair rides and deck chairs made the Palace Pier the most-visited tourist attraction outside of London in 2016, with over 4,650,000 people crossing the brightly-lit threshold.
3. We couldn’t give a lowdown of hidden gems around our coastal area without mentioning film. There is a long running tradition of outdoor cinema and screenings on the frontier between land and water. Every year there are new ways of experiencing an open air screening environment, usually surrounded by friends and a summery drink or two. The Luna Beach Cinema, which stretches out like a football pitch to the east of the Palace Pier, returns this summer after having a year off last year, for obvious reasons. Their slick, professional setup uses state of the art LED HD screens and bespoke sound equipment, all located just a few hops from the lapping shoreline. Watch out for the swooping gulls as you relax!
4. The British Airways i360 spire, which tourists rate as the 12th best thing about Brighton, reopens it’s glass doors again this month for the busy summer months. At 162 metres in height, the Brighton tower is taller than its sibling, the London Eye, by a whole 30 metres, providing riders of the donut-shaped carriage with views that stretch far out towards the rolling South Downs.
5. Back down at ground level, on the Hove side of the long shale beach, you will find a more traditional tourist attraction: Marrocco’s ‘Ristorante Italiano,’ a seaside cafe bar which harks back to a bygone era in the very best way. The modestly decorated exterior, which shows the colours of the Italian flag, is a mask for the incredible goodies inside: the ice creams are worth the walk along Hove Lawns alone. The first incarnation of Marrocco’s was opened in 1966, when Renato and his sweetheart Maria, moved from Cassino in Italy to Worthing, and took their delicious ideas to nearby Brighton. The rest is history!
That’s our pick of 5 seafront secrets. Next week we’ll be further exploring Brighton life, we may come further inland for that, once we’ve taken off our wetsuit and flippers…