Recently-discovered historic signage and a rare glimpse into Brighton Dome’s ambitious redevelopment works at Heritage Open Day

News, History & Heritage

Visitors will be given a unique opportunity to peek into Brighton Dome’s ambitious redevelopment works as part of Heritage Open Day this Saturday (15 Sep, 10am - 4.30pm).

The Corn Exchange doors on Brighton Dome’s West Corridor will be opened for the first time since works began, to give visitors a taste of the extensive renovation project which will restore breath-taking and previously hidden heritage features, as well as providing new state-of-the-art facilities upon its re-opening. Recent developments include a magnificent new skylight, the exposure of 200-year-old timbers and the construction of a new balcony in the Studio Theatre.

The annual Heritage Open Day will also offer the chance for visitors to view recently unearthed signage for local ‘wonder boy organist’ Douglas Reeve. The large-scale signage reading ‘Brighton’s Radio Organist Douglas Reeve’ will be displayed to stir memories and raise awareness of the popular organist, whose Tuesday at the Dome variety shows ran for over 1,600 performances, earning him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest seaside variety show in the world.

Other events include a behind-the-scenes tour (which includes a glimpse of Brighton Dome’s famed underground tunnel), talks about celebrated landscape designer Humphrey Repton’s unrealised vision of the Royal Pavilion Estate and the Build Brighton Dome Community Appeal (which aims to raise £250,000 to help complete the transformational project) and live music in the foyer.

Heritage craft activities for families will include badgemaking materials and a printmaking session exploring the textures and patterns found in Brighton Dome's iconic building using lino prints, stamps and collage to make your own beautiful print to take home (11am - 1pm). Brighton Dome’s newly recruited research volunteers will be on hand to tell visitors about three areas they have been exploring and share some of the stories they have been investigating of the building’s 200-year history (10am – 4.30pm).

Heritage Open Days - which take place every year in September - see buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors, allowing visitors to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life. Over 1,400 organisations now take part, and some 40,000 volunteers organising thousands of site openings and events which jointly attract over one million visitors, making Heritage Open Days England’s biggest voluntary cultural event.

Talks include:

Humphry Repton and his Designs for the Royal Pavilion

With Dr Alexandra Loske

12pm – 1pm

Dome Concert Hall

Free admission

BSL Interpreted

Humphry Repton’s ‘Red Book’ of 1806 shows an important stage in the evolution of the Royal Pavilion, even though none of his designs were ever implemented. Dr Alexandra Loske’s talk will focus on Repton’s plans for the Royal Pavilion Estate, commissioned by George IV in 1805. Although his proposal was never realised, Repton’s vision is preserved in one of his beautifully illustrated Red Books, enabling us to see what might have been. Some of Repton’s designs for the Pavilion and an original Red Book will be on display during the talk.

Build Brighton Dome

With Maxine Hort, Director of Operations, Brighton Dome and Festival

11.15am – 12pm & 12.45pm - 1.30pm

Founders Room

Free admission, limited seating capacity

Combining a royal palace and Regency garden, museum and art gallery and our three performing arts spaces, the Royal Pavilion Estate is our city’s cultural heart. We have embarked on an exciting journey to restore and reunite this historic estate, starting with a major refurbishment of our nationally important Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. Due for completion in late autumn 2019 the transformation of both spaces will reveal and restore previously hidden heritage features and provide new, state of the art facilities. This illustrated talk will offer an overview of the redevelopment plans, insights into the building work completed to date and will be an opportunity to ask questions about the project.