The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

The Grand Hotel, Brighton

The Grand Hotel, Brighton

A carte-de-visite showing a view of the Grand Hotel on the seafront in Brighton. Designed in Italianate style by architect John Whichcord Jr., the first stone was laid on 13 December 1862. Less than two years later, the hotel opened to the public on 18 July 1864. Its hydraulically powered lift - the 'upstairs omnibus' - was the third in the country, and the first to be installed in the United Kingdom outside London. The hotel comprised 300 bedrooms, as well as a ladies' coffee room, a gentlemen's coffee room, a ladies' reception room, a billiard room, a reading room, and a lavishly tiled conservatory. 'Fresh water baths are placed on every floor, and for salt-water swimming, and hot and cold salt-water baths, one of the most complete establishments in England directly communicates by a private door with the Hotel. Adjoining the Hotel, but entirely separate from it, a first-class restaurant is being constructed by the Company' (Brighton Gazette, 23 June 1864).

The shuttered premises to the immediate right of the hotel is the Brighton branch of the photographer John Mayall. According to an announcement in the Brighton Gazette (13 July 1864), Mayall opened his Brighton studio on 18 July 1864, the same day that the Grand Hotel opened. 'Mr Mayall [...] has been able to bring extensive experience to bear upon the construction and appointment of his new Establishment. He has spared neither pains nor expense in preparing, for the accommodation of the nobility and gentry resident at or visiting Brighton, one of the most efficient studios ever built.'

Photographed by William Henry Mason of Brighton.

A printed caption in the lower margin dates the photograph to 18 July 1864, the day that the hotel opened.

Code: 126660
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