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Inside The Amazing ‘Brighton Past’ Facebook Group

Inside The Amazing ‘Brighton Past’ Facebook Group
Kim Ayling
  • On June 27, 2018

As most residents of our city know, Brightonians are incredibly proud of their home and it’s wonderful history, from Victorian seaside town to the hub of British youth culture in the Twentieth Century and everything in between.

In light of this love and admiration for Brighton’s rich history, the Facebook group ‘Brighton Past’ was created, inviting it’s members to share their wonderful memories of a wonderful city. From it’s small beginnings 7 years ago as a space for locals to share some photos, the Facebook group has now grown to an amazing 37,000 members (and counting!) with incredibly regular submissions, ranging from literal Brighton past photos to posts about current day occurrences in the city.

Naturally, as lovers of Brighton and it’s history, here at Brighton Journal, we are captivated by the ‘Brighton Past’ page, and love keeping up with the regular submissions. In light of this we caught up with Carol Homewood, the original brains behind the gorup, and it’s recent website, to find out why she initially decided to create what is easily one of Brighton’s favourite Facebook groups.

Hi Carol! Could you tell us a bit about yourself – what’s your past and how does it fit into Brighton’s past?

I was born and brought up in Brighton, as were my parents. I was born in our family home which has been in our family for over 100 years. I went to Elm Grove school which is where I discovered I had a passion for local history. My Mum bought me my first Brighton history book when I was around 11 years old. I then started taking photos around town when I was in my late teens from the mid 80’s onwards. Inspired by two books by James Gray, I realised how important it was to record the history of our town now for people to look at in the future – something that I still do but on a much bigger scale.

Carol on Brighton Beach in 1994.

What was it that initially inspired you to start the ‘Brighton Past’ group?

I have a massive collection of Brighton books and a lot of the time the same old photos from books that I’d bought 30 years ago would turn up in books being published now, but I wanted to see stuff I’d never seen before. Back in the 80s the only source of rare Brighton photos was the amazing Reference Library where you could look through their albums and order rare photos. You’d then have to wait for them to be developed (imagine that!) and then go and pick them up from the photographers in Trafalgar Street. So having totally exhausting my sources of finding ‘new’ old photos I sat there on Facebook one day and thought my friends must have photos of around town from their childhood, amongst their family albums. So I decided to start a group and invited my friends to join to add their photos and there was the birth of Brighton-Past.

I think our members get different things from Brighton-Past. We have our die-hard history fans who will go to any lengths to research a photo/building/person as well as members who want to reminisce about places from their youth – Carol Homewood, creator of Brighton Past

What aspect of Brighton’s history most intrigues you?

I’m mostly interested in buildings and their history, and finding out more about their original purpose. Some areas interest me more so than others such as the old Market Street area, Kemp Town Railway and Chain Pier. In terms of photos, photos of old shops probably grab my attention more than most. I do also like to read about people who have long gone who made a big difference to Brighton back in the day, who now may not get much of a mention. It’s good to keep these people alive and remembered for what they did. 

The Brighton Past page is a treasure trove for gorgeous photos of the historic city – this was taken on Trafalgar Street Photo provided by Eileen Valder.

‘Brighton Past’ now has a staggering amount of members – did you ever expect it to become so popular? Why do you think the group resonates so much with people?

I had absolutely no idea that the group would become so massive. I still remember when we hit 700 members and suddenly I couldn’t cope with the amount of people wishing to join!

I think our members get different things from Brighton-Past. We have our die-hard history fans who will go to any lengths to research a photo/building/person as well as members who want to reminisce about places from their youth. To them it brings nostalgia and also has reunited a lot of old friends and family, which to me is probably one of the best things that have come out of creating the group. I like to think it’s a bit of escapism for most people (including myself) from their busy lives and the chance to learn something new. People share their memories of certain places, which to me is priceless.

If you’d like to peruse the extensive selection of photos in ‘Brighton Past’, or contribute something yourself, join the Facebook group or visit the website.

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