Sea-wall

Photo:Sea wall

Sea wall

Image reproduced with permission from Brighton History Centre

Photo:Sea wall

Sea wall

Image reproduced with permission from Brighton History Centre

Built by William Lambert 1838

By Sally Dench

William Lambert, my great-great-great-great-uncle, built the sea-wall in Brighton. There is a plaque to him on the wall, just to the west of the Madeira lift, on the middle level: William Lambert, builder, 1838.

An ornament and protection
His father had been a builder before him: they moved from Croydon, I think, and were living in Brighton by 1810. On this death in 1862, the Brighton Examiner reported: 'he has at times held large and important town contracts, including the construction of the immense sea-wall which is at once an ornament and protection to the whole of the frontage of the east part of the town, from the Pier to Kemp Town'. Building the sea-wall was an expensive business. At one point prisoners were used as labour.

Researching the family connection
My grandmother had told me about the connection with the sea-wall and my family. So when I moved down here, I started looking into it, and found it was true. Birth, marriage and death records, and wills all helped prove this. The East Sussex Record Office in Lewes has the original copies of the contracts he had with the Town Commissioners, who then ran the town. It was really great finding out.

The wall shortly after it was built
The second picture shows what the wall looked like fairly shortly after it was built. The date on the picture is 1841 and the wall was completed in 1838, according to the plaque. It must have been taken from about the same position, as you can see from the Chain Pier in the background.

I came to live in Brighton six-and-a-half years ago now. On my father's side there's a long family connection with Brighton - so it was like coming home.

Text and photo contributed to the website on a workshop, 11/11/02
This page was added on 22/03/2006.

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