Building crafts & skills

This section provides a series of short descriptions of the traditional building crafts and skills used to construct Regency Brighton. These were originally written for guide books that accompanied the Heritage Open Weekend exhibitions, which were presented annually by the Town House from 1995 to 1999.

Heritage Open Weekend

Heritage Open Weekend was a free event that gathered together top British craftspeople to demonstrate the traditional building crafts and skills that built the magnificent Regency homes of Brighton and Hove. It ran for the first time in 1995, when it attracted 7,000 visitors. The event was organised by staff and volunteers and was held in marquees erected in the heart of the old Brunswick Town area of Hove.
In 1997 the event attracted over 15,000 visitors, many of whom participated in demonstrations of traditional skills, including: brick making, plaster casting and moulding, carpentry and joinery, painting and gilding, wood carving and turning, slate roofing, lead plumbing, wrought iron working, etc.  Also in 1997, we were fortunate in winning an European Heritage Days award. This enabled craftspeople from the Irish Republic to attend to demonstrate their skills and, especially, to learn about the event prior to organising their own Heritage Open Weekend in Dublin the following year.

The aims of the event were threefold:
  1. To provide the opportunity for young people to discover traditional trades and crafts for themselves.
  2. To raise the profile of Brighton & Hove as important historic locations with outstanding Regency architecture.
  3. To encourage the use of traditional building skills and materials in the repair and restoration of homes.