Wartime Stories

World War I

Between 1 December 1914 and 15 February 1916 over 4,000 wounded Indian soldiers were nursed back to health at the make-shift hospitals set up inside the buildings of the Royal Pavilion estate. Three operating theatres were installed, one inside Brighton Dome itself. The India Gate, completed in 1921 and visible on the south side of the Pavilion Gardens, was a gift from the people of India, erected to commemorate their fallen soldiers.

World War II

In a night raid in September 1943, thousands of incendiary bombs were dropped on Brighton. One bomb fell in Pavilion Gardens, between the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Dome. Luckily, due to heavy autumn rain, the bomb buried itself deep in the soft earth before detonating. The shock waves were absorbed below ground level, limiting damage to the buildings, though the impact was still strong enough to shake the Dome walls out of vertical. The explosion left behind a huge crater, which was then put to use as a static water tank.

Brighton was also home to numerous allied soldiers during WWII and many attended dances held in the venue:

‘During the war years the highlight of the day was looking forward to dancing at Brighton Dome in the evening. I actually met my future husband, an Australian Lancaster pilot, there in 1944 as did many other local girls. We settled back in Brighton in 1947 and spent 44 wonderful years together thanks to Brighton Dome.’ Mrs Joy Bradshaw