Percival Terrace

Notes and queries: Building collapse in 1987

Photo:Photo taken 21 November 1987.

Photo taken 21 November 1987.

Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

Does anyone know anything about the collapse of the Regency houses on the seafront at Percival Terrace in Kemptown (approx 10 - 15 years ago)?

From Matthew Thompson, e-mail sent to site on Tuesday June 5 2001

from Jan Croot, Kemp Town resident
e-mail sent to site on 9 September 2002

"There was a query about the collapse of No 10 Percival Terrace so I'm adding what I know. It fell down overnight and remarkably silently. I think there were people in it, as it was a student hostel, but as far as I know they all escaped unscathed. I also understand that the building wasn't insured which is a bit surprising, but that is why it was years before anything else was built on the site. Rumour has it that the collapse was due to weakening of the Victorian drains, which riddle the cliffs coming down from Kemp Town."

From Stephen Podesta, 13-05-2003

"I was a student at Brighton Polytechnic and was living in Percival Terrace at the time. You can see 'one' wall of my room in the picture (at third-floor level). The collapse happened at around 2 o'clock in the morning (Friday the 13th?). The facade wall fell down in a vertical plane. It was very lucky that the guys in the rooms at the front were not injured. We all left the building safe and sound, apart from the bursar's wife who broke a leg.

"After a few hours, the council architect and engineers decided that the building was unstable and so they knocked it down the following evening (this is the damage you see in the picture). We were not allowed back into the building and so we lost all our possessions and so on that remained inside. I was in my final year and so I lost a lot of notes, which caused a bit of distruption to my course.

"The building was not insured as it was owned by the Council and they do not insure all their buildings because of the large annual cost that would entail. I got some money from household insurance and a fund that the Polytechnic set up to help us. The Polytechnic did all they could, and local people offered to put us up in their own houses while the Polytechnic found alternative accommodation for us."

This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
This was a hall of residence for males attending the local Poly and the first place I lived in for awhile when I moved to Brighton in the late 1970s. It was a real rabbit warren with fire doors between the buildings and a huge empty basement. An interesting and friendly place for young men to live; I made good friends there. The warden who was responsible for this happy place was an excellent and wise lecturer named Brooks. He had an army of cleaners who reported back to him any strange goings on. Students did not eat on the premises. Instead, every mealtime, we had to walk round to the much more impressive female halls on Eastern Terrace. I was told that this was, at one time, owned by the Shah of Persia. The first few floors of this building consisted of huge state rooms that were kept empty while above increasingly small rooms culminated in a narrow little curving staircase up to what I imagine were at one time servants rooms. Students also lived in a few other houses along that stretch of the seafront. It was a good place to live and there were some very wonderful people living in these houses.
By John Carling (21/12/2003)
Well, I am about to move into number 8, the raised ground floor of Percival Mansions, Percival Terrace and I would be really interested to know anything about the flat. It is situated on the corner so I would imagine that it also collapsed but there is no mention of it here.
By Claire Matthews (19/01/2006)
I was shocked to see the image of Percival Terrace which I came across today. I occupied, with another student Delia Hayward, the very top corner room of number 10 for a year in 1965. It was then, together with numbers 8 and 9, a hall of residence for Brighton Teachers' Training College, the main College being situated in Eastern Terrace. The college principal, known as 'Father' lived on the first floor of number 10 and the doors were locked at 10.30pm! During a fire practise, when the fire doors between rooms were tested, I can remember the firemen telling us that from the upper floors we would have had no chance of escape if a real fire had ever happened! Soon after we left, the college became part of Sussex University and moved to a new campus at Falmer.
By Judy Marchant (26/04/2006)
The site was re-developed in 1998/9 when Nos. 7 and 8 were also demolished and the whole was replaced by Percival Mansions - a block of 27 2/3 bedroom apartments with entrances from both the seafront and the corner of Chesham Place. The upper floors being served by 2 lifts. The outside of the building matches the original externally but is now built on.
By Paul Wyatt (24/08/2006)
1 Chesham Place, also seen in the Argus photograph, was at about that time renovated to become a single private residence.
By Paul Wyatt (24/08/2006)

I lived in 7-9 Eastern Terrace for my first two years of Teacher Training College at Brighton College of Education. That was from 1974-1976. I now live in the US and saw on a recent visit to my beloved Brighton, that the buildings seemed to have been gutted. I wasn't sure if it was by fire or what. I have many happy memories of my time in Brighton and miss it.

By Diane Harvey (17/12/2006)

The buildings 7 to 9 were sold to private developers, they then gutted the place after the lease ran out for the polytecnic, now university. I stayed on the top flat of 7 Eastern Terrace and you could walk through 8 and 9. It was like a rabbit warren. I was also the caretaker for a while.

By Andy (19/01/2007)

I was living in Percival Terrace 1975-6 as a trainee teacher. Brooksie who retired to Carlisle with wife Lillian would be pleased, I am now 59 and about to qualify in Australia. Those of us who lived there had a ball with interesting characters and so much to do in Brighton. My room was on 2nd or 3rd floor over looking the sea and we used to put the chairs on the desks by the window and watch the sunset go down. Then some nights Brooksie would come along for a chat and check up on us -"Working hard?" - in his deep dark wavering voice, eyes sparkling through his specs, as he knew more than he let on. A rhetorical question as he spotted my Sporting Life and my room mates disposition. The cleaners told us years later that the tunnels underground had buckled possibly triggered by road or other works... or was it the deferred tremor of our stamping feet playing table tennis in the basement till 1 am most days.

By Kevin Hall (03/06/2007)

I lived in No. 9 (top floor) in 1969/70. Other notable residents were Dave Bedford and Giles Wilson (son of PM). Fabulous location for a student from up North. Shocked to see my fireplace exposed to the elements. Good days!

By Steve Redhead (13/02/2008)

I lived in Seafront Halls of Residence, 7-10 Percival Terrace from 1983 to 1987 (except for 85-86). A wonderful place. The boys lived in this building and the girls in nearby Eastern Terrace (adjacent to the Bristol pub) and at the other end of Percival Terrace (1-3?). There was also a little annex 162 (?) Madeira Drive. I still have loads of friends from that era. Mr Brooks aka Brooksie (mentioned above) was still running the place when I was living there. I shared a room on the third floor with two other students (room 68) and then had single rooms on the top floor and ground floor. Probably the greatest years of my life. I now live in Hove.

By Nigel Bailey (14/05/2009)

Well, I am just new to your blog site and just spent about an hour lurking and reading. I think I will frequent your site from now on after going through some of your posts. I will definitely learn a lot from them. Thanks one more time.

By Fred Dickson (23/12/2010)

I was a student teacher in Percival Terrace from 1964 until we moved to Falmer. For a time, I was engaged to another really lovely student who lived in the men's house at the other end of the Terrace. They used to come to our (women's quarters) to the dining room. I have just returned there after 54 years living in Australia with my Australian husband of 50 years. I have some really happy memories of my time in Percival Terrace.

By Jennifer Hills (15/06/2018)

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