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Brighton in East Sussex is one of the largest and most famous seaside resorts in England. Brighton and Hove form a single conurbation[?] but Brighton's lively atmosphere is a direct contrast to its near neighbour which has quieter and more refined character. The two borough councils were joined together as a unitary authority in 1997 and in 2000 the towns were officially merged to become the city of Brighton & Hove.

The city began life as a fishing village known as 'Brighthelmstone'. Brighthelmstone began to change in 1753 when Dr. Russell of Lewes published his thesis on sea bathing, which proclaimed the benefit to health of the salt water. He set up house there and before long, the rich and ill had started to make their way to the seaside. By 1780, development of the Regency terraces had started and the town quickly became the fashionable resort of Brighton. The growth of the town was further encouraged when, in 1786, the young Prince Regent later King George IV, rented a farmhouse in order to escape from public life. Eventually he spent much of his leisure time in the town and constructed the exotic-looking Royal Pavilion, which is the town's best-known landmark. The area of Brighton known as Kemp Town was constructed between 1823 and 1855, and is a good example of Regency architecture.

In Brighton, the area occupied by the original fishing village has become The Lanes - a collection of narrow alleyways now filled with a mixture of antique shops, restaurants, bistros and pubs. In Hove, peace and tranquillity fills the wide boulevards, creating a welcome retreat. Brighton is also a well known conference centre. In the early hours of October 12th 1984 an IRA bomb exploded in the Grand Hotel where leading members of the governing Conservative party were staying. Four people were killed in the blast (including Sir Anthony Berry), and another subsequently died of her injuries. The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, narrowly escaped injury, although members of her Government were injured - most notably Norman Tebbit. However, no member of the cabinet was killed.

The city has a large gay community and it is home to two universities, the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton. It is sometimes known as 'London by the Sea' because of its lively atmosphere and cosmopolitan nature and also because of the large number of visitors from London. In the summer, thousands of young students from all over Europe gather in Brighton to attend language courses there.

Brighton is renowned for its large number of bars - you can drink in a different bar on each day of the year. The city has over fifty churches, so you can repent your drunken sins in a different one every week of the year.

A large and well-stocked second hand bookshop was for thirty years run by Noel Brookes at 12A, Queen's Road. In the year 2002, he mysteriously disappeared, and his shop had to be closed. However, there are several other second hand bookstores, mainly in the North Laine district.

Brighton is the home of Brighton and Hove Albion F.C.

The Palace Pier (renamed Brighton Pier in 2000) opened in May 1899 and is still popular. It suffered a large fire on 4 February 2003 but the damage was limited and most of the pier was able to reopen the next day.

West Pier, Brighton. Showing the collapse of the concert hall.

The even older West Pier, built in 1866, has been closed since 1975 awaiting renovation. It partially collapsed on December 29, 2002 when a walkway connecting the concert hall and pavilion fell into the sea after being battered by storms. On January 20, 2003 a further collapse saw the destruction of the concert hall in the middle of the pier. On March 28, 2003 the pavilion at the end of the pier caught fire. Firefighters were unable to save the building from destruction because of the precarious state of the walkway. All that now remains of the building is the original cast iron frame. The cause of the fire remains unknown. The West Pier is the only Grade I listed pier in the UK. Plans to renovate the pier have been opposed by some local residents who claim that the proposed new onshore structures - which the renovators need, to pay for the work on the pier - would obstruct their view of the sea. Following the March 28 fire, the West Pier trust reiterated: "The Trust and St Modwen are determined that nothing will prevent the start of the restoration within the next 12 months." Then on May 12, 2003, another fire broke out, consuming most of what was left of the concert hall. Arson was suspected.

Novels set in Brighton

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