Children's Express: What We Think Of Brighton

By Gabriella Gay and Danyel Edwards | 17 August 2004
photo shows people, mainly children, queuing up to get sweets and seaside rock from a vendor. A girl is partly facing the camera, slightly out of shot.

All photos by Gabriella Gay and Danyel Edwards

24 Hour Museum has partnered with Children's Express, the kids journalism bureau, to make some provocative and lively snapshots of our cities.

Children's Express writers aged 8 to 18 from all over the UK visited cities that attracted them. How do other teenagers see us and our city, Brighton? Find out below!

Brighton - the seaside, the candy floss, the pier. This is the stuff of childhood memories. But as a teenage day-tripper to the popular seaside resort I discovered that there is much more to do and see than I ever knew.

The city is only an hour away from London by train but it has a chilled out vibe that makes it unique. Maybe that is because it is by the sea, or maybe it is because it is home to the highest percentage of young people (aged between 18 and 30) in the UK. When I got there I wanted to discover why this is the case – just what makes the city so cool? And can such a place have a sense of history?

First on my travels I visited the Brighton Toy and Model Museum. Hidden away under the dark arch of a bridge this small museum displays a large collection of antique toys and models.

shows contents of a display cabinet at Brighton Toy Museum - lots of Mickey Mouse figures are in view.

Toy Museum - a lot to see and if you love toys and teddy bears it is excellent.

However there is not much information on the toys and some background would have made the toys more meaningful.

There was a huge train set which was interesting but we couldn’t work out why it was there. There was also a scary looking Minnie Mouse doll in a glass case that looked like she could come alive at any moment. With a £4.65 entrance fee it is way too expensive, especially because you don’t find out that much about the toys. It should be free.

Arts and crafts seem to be an important part of the city’s heritage. We found one shop totally devoted to crafts and crammed with beads of all shapes, styles and colours so you can make your own jewellery, and one shop that made chocolate into sculpture. If you love something a bit sweet in the mouth, Choccy Woccy Do Dah is any chocolate lovers dream

There is every type of chocolate you can think of, intricately shaped into animals, people, figures – we couldn’t taste any though as it was very expensive – some cakes even cost up to £1000.

shows a photo of a mosaic on the ground depicting a naked figure

Wandering through the maze of winding cobbled streets there were many unusual things to see. The streets were full of public art, including one life-size mosaic of a man stretched in the road, part of the pavement.

The art gives the city a sense of freedom, while the twists and turns in the tiny streets make it easy to see how Lewis Carroll, who wrote part of Alice in Wonderland in Brighton, might have been inspired by them. Or perhaps he was inspired by the dream like quality of the pier with its bright lights and fairground rides or the Pavilion. a majestic palace, influenced by Asian architecture.

This oriental and beautiful structure stirs up a range of emotions. Whereas I and the many other open mouthed visitors found it extremely beautiful, others thought the gold décor and unusual furniture was over the top. I had never been before but it is only by visiting it that you can truly appreciate it and form your own opinion.

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery was a favourite stop for the day. It was a modern, airy and interactive museum with a different approach than traditional museums. It is obviously aimed at those of us who aren’t too keen to read masses of information on big boards about people and events in history we don’t know about and perhaps don’t care about. This is a museum that cares about modern times too.

shows the front of a Lambretta Scooter in Brighton Museum. The scooter is white and red and it has chrome bars, extra spotlamps and a Union flag sticker.

In the Contemporary exhibition there is a whole section on Mods and Rockers which tells the history of how Brighton was the famous hangout for the rebels of the Sixties.

And you can get clued up quickly on Brighton’s place as the gay and lesbian capital of the UK. In celebration of the diverse population of Brighton, along the seaside there is an extraordinary piece of public art.

photo shows a sculpture fromed from steel, with holes drilled in it so the holes resemble pixellated prints. Images of couples kissing can be seen

Kiss Wall, by Bruce Williams: It shows an elderly couple, a young couple, a gay couple, a lesbian couple and children kissing.

It is quite a clever piece of art as you cannot see the picture from certain angles, which says a lot about the way people perceive different relationships, and about Brighton’s status a revolutionary place.

It is easy to see why the city was adopted by writers and artists through the ages from George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling to music makers such as Noel Gallagher and Fat Boy Slim today.

Traditionally young people like to visit Brighton to stuff our faces with candyfloss and ride the bumper cars. But there is a more cultural side to Brighton that is worth exploring. There is more than the beach and the pier, although these are an essential part of a trip to Brighton, especially if you want to join in with the relaxed attitude, locally referred to as being “lunched out”.

There are many different days out to be had whether you want to visit museums, marvel at the Pavilion or go around all the unusual shops. Brighton is a great place to explore, young or old.

Are Danyel and Gabriella right? Have you got some favourite cultural places the girls didn't find? Why not use our Storymaker program to tell us your views?

Children’s Express is a programme of learning through journalism for young people aged eight to 18. This article was produced by Gabriella Gay, (17) with photos by Gabriella Gay and Danyel Edwards (18) www.childrens-express.org

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