The gamble for a grand Edwardian Brighton seafront casino that didn’t pay off

This is the only known image of a proposed Winter Palace and Casino on Brighton’s seafront which was discussed in Parliament in November 1908.

As is obvious, the design was seeking to emulate similar grand buildings in France and Italy and would have been an imposing incursion into the sea. It was to have been built west of the West Pier, and reclaimed land and parts of Hove Lawns, sitting as it does in front of Bedford Square. The images are taken from the London Illustrated News.

It was the brainchild of Scottish engineer John Brunlees who had also produced, in 1855, plans for a tunnel under the Channel between Dover’s South Foreland and Sangatte, near Calais.

Neither schemes came to fruition and Brunlees, if he is remembered at all, is known as the father if the more eminent James, president of the Insitution of Civil Engineers from 1882-83.

Of the plan, the text reads: “It is proposed to erect at Brighton a summer and winter palace that will be no less splendid than any of the continental casinos. The building will stand on a new foreshore reclaimed from the sea in front of the Norfolk and Bedford Hotels, the site to include part of the existing sea-front and gardens. The cost is estimated at £200,000. A superb concert-room, a ball-room and restaurant are included in the scheme. The architects are Messrs. Clayton and Black.” 

The site would have reclaimed areas of the beach.

The proposed site of the Winter Palace and casino


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