A look back at 2019: A celebration of Brighton Dome’s history
30 Dec 2019
As we continue our exciting journey to restore and reunite the Royal Pavilion Estate buildings and gardens, we have been celebrating our rich history and heritage through a series of heritage events at Brighton Dome. Here is a look-back at events celebrating our history and future:
We opened our doors to give people a closer look at our historic organ and to discover more about our 200-year history. The tailor-made Hill, Norman & Beard dual-purpose concert organ installed in 1936, replacing the original 1850 model. It is a large four manual classical organ, with 42 rows of pipes in four chambers, the unit construction with electro-pneumatic action produced no less than 250 stop tabs, as well as having many special effects stops. Made famous during World War II by Douglas Reeve and with his signature tune 'Pack Up Your Troubles'. After the war, his weekly Tuesday at Brighton Dome variety shows ran for over 1,600 performances.
Michael Maine, responsible for saving the Brighton Dome organ returned to entertain with a programme celebrating every aspect of its extraordinary range of colour - from shimmering strings, the quivering Vox Humana, stentorian Tuba Mirabilis, to the majesty of full organ - one of the greatest sounds on the South Coast.
In September, we hosted our annual Heritage Open Day, with this year’s theme exploring People Power and the role Brighton Dome has played in effecting change both nationally and within the local community during our 216-year history. The day kicked off with a talk by Phillip Morgan discussing how to Royal Pavilion Estate was saved by the people of Brighton, an organ recital with Michael Wooldridge and a stables exhibition.
Alexandra Loske, Curator at the Royal Pavilion introduced the history of the Pavilion and the surrounding estate from its first manifestation as a lodging house to the most exotic looking of all royal residences in Britain.
To commemorate Remembrance Sunday, we looked to the past for a day of free activities looking back at the Royal Pavilion Estate’s role during World War I and World War II. Local author and historian Chris Horlock joined us to explore what occurred in Brighton during the World War I years. Historical research volunteers and Brighton Dome staff shared archival material including information about Douglas Reeve and his infamous organ concerts that took place during World War II. There was also a chance to take part in backstage tours, offering visitors a chance to explore the history of the iconic venue peek into the artists’ dressing rooms and get a rare glimpse of King George IV’s secret underground tunnel.
Dr. Sue Berry FSA discussed the transformation of Brighton between the 1790s and 1815 when Brighton hosted hundreds of soldiers and their officers which contributed to the town’s rapid growth. From 1815 visitors wanted more privacy and wished to rent larger houses in which to entertain. This talk explored these two phases of Brighton’s growth, still a very important historic legacy in the townscape.