Brighton College Timeline

As part of our celebrations of the 175th anniversary of Brighton College, we are delighted to announce the launch of this interactive history timeline. This timeline makes full use of our diverse archival collection, using photographs, records, and other items to represent the College’s colourful history.

1845th

A page from a minute book describing Queen Victoria’s decision not to be a patron of Brighton College

Many local people supported Brighton College but it failed to impress Queen Victoria. Minutes from the first meeting held by the Brighton College Council show how she declined the offer to become School Patron and how they then turned to the Bishop of...

1845th

Photograph of William Aldwin Soames

William Aldwin Soames, who conceived the idea of Brighton College, and in 1845 had a principal role in founding it. Soames who gathered the committee together, bought the first four shares, personally underwrote a £6000 mortgage when funds were low, a...

1847th

Illustration of Portland Place: the original location of the school

In May of 1846, the council took out a 3 year lease on Lion House, Portland Place. Teaching begin there in January 1847, with the first 47 boys entering the school.

1847th

List of individuals who bought shares in Brighton College, including the architect Amon Henry Wilds

Declaration Book from 1848-1873 shows the shares sold provided money to fund the building of the school. The people who bought shares were largely from Brighton and Hove.

1848th

Sir George Gilbert Scott's winning designs for Brighton College

A print of Sir George Gilbert Scott's winning designs for Brighton College. In January 1848 the Council placed advertisements announcing an architectural competition to design a day and boarding school for 600 boys. Ultimately, due to a shortage of fu...

1848th

Illustrations of the procession from Portland Place to the current College site, and the laying of the foundation stone

A cartoon illustration drawn by Alfred Thompson, a Brighton College pupil aged seventeen, in June 1848. The illustrations show the procession from the Lion House, now known as Portland Place, the College's original site, all the way to the foundation ...

1848th

Photograph of the laying the foundation stone for Brighton College

The laying of the foundation stone, 27 June 1848, followed the procession to the site of the College. The stone itself has no inscription, but underneath is an engraved brass plate:

The 1st stone of this College was laid
On the 27th day of J...

1850th

A pupil’s drawings of masters

A pupils illustations of life at Brighton College in the 1850s, including six of the Masters, who are named. For most of this decade only the Main Building, and the Principal's House, built 1852-53, existed.

1859th

Painting of the College Chapel

This painting by Alfred Gray in 1864, depicts the interior of the Brighton College Chapel, as it looked when it was built in 1859. The Chapel was designed by George Gilbert Scott. The College Council, anxious to restrict the cost, ordered Scott to ma...

1864th

Photograph of the 1st XI cricket team

The 1864 first XI cricket team. Very early in its history the College established itself as a place of sporting excellence. This was a remarkable achievement for a small school where games were recreational and completely voluntary. Sports did not bec...

1865th

Print of the Brighton College Quad

A print of Brighton College as it looked in the 1860s, at the end of the first phase of building. At this stage the College comprised the Main Building, the Principal's House, and the Chapel. All of these buildings were designed by George Gilbert Scot...

1867th

Photograph of the Dining Room

The Dining Hall was designed by Gilbert Scott, as part of an extension of the Principal's House in 1865-66. In addition to the Dining Hall, a Kitchen and Dormitory Block were built. For many years the Hall was exclusively for the use of School House t...

1873rd

School House photograph

As the only internal boarding house in the early decades of Brighton College, School House, or 'The House,' as it was known, had a wide age range, as seen in this photograph. This was exacerbated by the fact that the Juniors had not yet been separated...

1884th

Plan of Boarding House B by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson

The 1880s saw a change in layout, with Brighton College being set to become an enclosed quadrangle, rather than a court open to the south. In 1884, Boarding House A (which later became Chichester House, and is now Abraham) was completed, and was qui...

1884th

Sir Thomas Graham Jackson's original designs for a tower at Brighton College

Jackon's designs for Boarding Houses were intended to adjoin a grand tower. In 1887, however, the College once again fell short of funds, and rather than a tower, they had a gateway, which served as the main entrance to the Colege for over 20 years.

1885th

Photograph of the 1st XI football team

The first XI football team, 1885, and winners of the Senior Sussex Cup that year. Brighton College's Association Football teams would go on to enjoy great success over the next 30 years, before being discontinued after the 1917-18 season, in favour of...

1886th

Menu from the Annual Dinner of the Old Brightonians

A menu of the Annual Dinner of the Old Brightonians held at Holborn Restaurant on July 5th 1886. The Old Brightonian Association was founded four years earlier, in 1882. That same year, subscriptions from Old Boys had funded the construction of the or...

1888th

Caricature of Robert Taylor

A caraciture of Robert Taylor, Choir Master and Organist at Brighton College from 1870 to 1888.

1892nd

Photograph of the Brighton College Choir

A photograph of the school choir of 1892. In the centre is George Master, the school’s first full-time Music Master.

1900th

Photograph of the school Gymansium

The College's Lecture Hall, built in 1859, was later set up as the first gymnasium in an English school. The man in the photograph is Sergeant Reynolds, the Gymnastic Instructor. This room later became the Chapel Music Room, before being completely re...

1903rd

Photograph of the 1903 production of 'The Cyclops'

December 1903 witnessed the first full play staged at Brighton College, The Cyclops of Euripedes. This play was performed entirely in Greek, with Mr A.H. Belcher (member of staff and future Head Master) playing the leader of the chorus, and his younge...

1905th

Pastel Drawing of College Chapel organ, by Allen

A 1905 pastel drawing of the College Chapel Organ, by Allen. By 1912, after decades of disintegration and patching up, the organ was reported to be in a state of collapse. The organ was overhauled in 1912, and again more thoroughly in 1948, but the in...

1907th

Photograph of the Abbey’s Brewery on fire

When the College was founded the Council had been unable to agree terms to purchase the piece of land in the south-west corner of the site they wanted. This piece of land eventually became the site of Abbey’s Brewery, that later became Kemp Town Brewe...

1911st

Dorothy Fenwick’s notebook

Dorothy was a matron at Brighton College for many years. She was successively Matron of Stenning, School and Bristol Houses, 1929-47. When the first girls house was officially opened, it was named Fenwick House, in honour of Dorothy and her commitment...

1914th

Photograph of the 1914 OTC Training Camp

The OTC at the 1914 Training Camp. The camp was quickly struck when new came of war on the 4th August. 147 Old Brightonians were killed over the course of the First World War. At the College itself, routine was barely disrupted over the course of the ...

1918th

Photograph of the 1st XV rugby team

In 1917-18, Brighton College fielded its last Association Football team for several decades, ending a succesful period in the history of football at the College. However, similiar to other public schools at the time, Association Football was losing su...

1920th

The Brighton College Crest

In 1918, the Council of Brighton College, with the enthusiastic support of the Head Master, applied to the College of Heralds for a legitimate Grant of Arms. On 18th June 1920 the patent was issued. This patent gave Brighton College its official coat ...

1920th

Photograph of Rev. Canon Dawson

Rev. Canon Dawson was Head Master from 1906-33. He was made head master in order to increase the number of pupils at Brighton College. Dawson helped get the College back from the Phoenix and return it to independence in 1909 after three years of tryi...

1921st

Photograph of the chapel during renovation

The extension of the Chapel was completed in 1923. As the number of boys rose, it had become increasingly difficult to seat them in Chapel. It was agreed that enlargement of that building would be a fitting memorial for those OBs who had made the supr...

1924th

Poster for the 1924 Production of 'The Sorcerer'

The Sorcerer, one of the lesser known Gilbert and Sullivans, was the Christmas 1924 production at the College. The photographs of the production were sadly a failure, but this beautiful poster has survived. It was drawn by the stage manager, Mr W. McC...

1929th

Photograph of Rugby 1st XV Cap

This velvet and silk Rugby Cap belonged to a member of the 1929 1st XV Team. Thanks to donations from Old Brightonians or their families, the archive is now home to a wonderful collection of historical caps and hats, as well as trophies and cups, book...

1930th

Junior School Prospectus

A page of the 1930 Preparatory School Prospectus.
From 1919 to 1940, the Brighton College Preparatory School was based in Lewes Crescent. They still used some College facilities but, in spite of that and their name, they were basically an independ...

1930th

Photograph of boys at the opening of the Dawson Building

Boys performing for the camera after the opening ceremony of the Dawson’s Building on October 29th, 1930. The building was opened by H.R.H. the Prince George (later the Duke of Kent).Almost the full cost of the Dawson Building's construction was raise...

1930th

Stenning House photograph

Photograph of the boys of Stenning House in 1930, with their accomplishments noted. Alongside Gordon, Walpole, and Wilsons, Stenning House was created to cope with a major expansion of the College after World War 1. However, all four Houses would subs...

1932nd

Photograph of College Opera

The cast of the 1932 College Opera. In addition to operas, Gilbert and Sullivan productions were staged annually between 1922 and 1939, until they were discontinued after being deemed too expensive. Staff and pupils performed on the same stage directe...

1933rd

Photograph of the Brighton College Locomotive

Fourty SR V class locomotives were built in the 1930s, and all were named after leading public schools, including locomotive 915, which was named Brighton College. In 1933 this locomotive was placed on exhibition at Brighton Train Station for College ...

1943rd

Photograph of the Fordson Tractor in the College Quad

The Fordson Tractor which arrived at the College in June 1941. This tractor enabled Senior boys to join the Ministry of Agriculture's scheme to train tractor drivers, with twenty-six boys passing the test by the end of that summer term. They then went...

1943rd

Photograph of the College's Avro Aircraft

With a little pressure on the Air Ministry, Walter Hett, the headmaster, was able to secure the College a place in 1941, among the first schools permitted, an Air Training Corps. It was run very successfully by “Teddy” Lester who made a flight stimula...

1943rd

Photograph of the Brighton College munitions factory

In 1942, the old Engineering Workshops were transformed into a munitions factory, in an effort to keep the school open. Due to World War 2, the number of pupils attending the college dropped significantly. The Headmaster, staff, pupils, and parents vo...

1943rd

Brighton College munition-making poster

At the start of the munitions factory, there was a high reject rate as the pupils, staff and parent volunteers had little training, which threatened to ruin the entire project. A Junior House parent, Mr H. Upward, offered supervision and training, whi...

1945th

Aerial print of Brighton College

This drawing, showing an aerial view of the College in 1945, was produced by Miss Freda Sage. The College had come a long way over its first 100 years, but its Centenary was marked, rather than celebrated.

1946th

The first ‘known’ Remembrance Sunday held at Brighton College Chapel

During the Second World War, several staff members and Old Brightonians were called to fight, at least 173 whom never returned, or died shortly aftwards due to illness or mental trauma. The school held a memorial assembly a year after the War ended, t...

1953rd

Chapel service for the Queen’s coronation

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on 2 June, 1953 in Westminster Abbey. A special service was held in the chapel to celebrate the Coronation, on Trinity Sunday, 31st May, the Sunday before the great event.

1955th

The Brighton College Development Plan

Some remodernisation was needed after the war and as the College started to finally make a profit in the 1950s, it was feasible at last. Here we see the “Third Development” Appeal brochure drawn up in 1955. A lot of extra funds needed to be raised by ...

1956th

Photograph of a Chichester House dormitory

A Chichester House Dormitory in 1956 when accommodation was rather spartan compared to the comforts of modern day boarding. The room was unheated but this was considered normal at the time.

1956th

Photograph of boys and staff at the College tuck shop

A very popular place with the boys was the Tuck Shop. It was combined with the uniform shop in 1956. The building had been constructed 20 years earlier in 1936 and at the beginning of the 1970s, it would move again, leaving space for the Art School an...

1958th

Photograph of the laying the foundation stone for the new science block

The laying of the foundation stone for the new Science Block in March 1958 by Lord Woolton, President of the College and former Maths teacher. Brighton College was much more forward thinking about science than a lot of the more old fashioned public sc...

1960th

Photograph of Macbeth production

College drama continued to flourish at the College, particularly in the 1950s and 60s, under the guidance of Peter Gough. During this period, the drama productions were of such high quality that they were noted by national newspapers, such as the Dail...

1960th

Photograph of a biology laboratory

A photograph of a Biology Laboratory in the new Science Block c.1960. After an initial surge of numbers studying sciences in the late 1950s, this did not develop into five scientists for every three on the arts side, as had been forecast, despite the ...

1962nd

Photograph of the Queen’s visit

The Queen and Prince Philip visited the College in 1962. Here we see the Headmaster, William Stewart taking the Queen on a guided tour of the grounds, passing rows of boys that had lined the paths for the occasion.

1965th

Photograph of the College choir performing for ITV

The 1960s were a time of great cultural revival within the College. Three times during 1964, Brighton College singers were to be seen on Southern Television. And again, here, in 1965, the Glee Club was invited to record a week’s programmes for the ser...

1971st

Photograph of the Junior School's former site at Eastern Road

Moving day for the Junior School from Eastern Road to its present location in Walpole Road in 1971. The Junior School was forced to move as Brighton Town Council wanted to widen the road, a project that never happened but the building was demolished n...

1972nd

Photograph of the Woolton Building

When Brighton College was finally able to buy the Malthouse, situated on the corner of Sutherland Road and Eastern Road, there were huge ambitions for the space, which had to be scaled down. The new classroom block, the Woolton Building, opened in 197...

1975th

Fenwick House photograph

September 1973 - Brighton began admitting girls into their 6th forms at the request of Bill Blacksaw, the Head Master at the time. The majority of the early girls were boarders (Fenwick house). Blackshaw's primary objectives in introducing these girl...

1977th

Photograph of the College's letterpress during an Open Day

In 1977, the College replaced Speech Day with Open Day. Here a young operative is demonstrating the College Press to visitors. According to Martin Jones in the 1995 History, the press was vigorous and the output at that time was inventive and impress...

1979th

A photograph of a study bedroom in Fenwick House

This photograph shows the large open spaced layout of a study bedroom in Fenwick House in 1979.

1980th

Aerial photograph of Brighton College

An aerial photograph of the College grounds as it looked in the 1980s. This photograph highlights the impact of the Woolton Building at the bottom left of the college site. Also visible are the day boy houses, as well as the former swimming pool and s...

1982nd

Picasso Exhibition at the Burstow Gallery

A photograph of the Brighton Festival exhibition ' Picasso and the theatre' in 1982, which took place within the Burstow Gallery and Great Hall. Bill Blackshaw had an obsession with painting, which helped to drive his push for the creation of an Art G...

1986th

Poster of the production of 'Pygmalion'

Poster for the October 1986 College production of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmallion. Despite only having 5 weeks to produce the play, it was widely praised, and considered a well-coordinated performance. The 1987 Brightonian review gave the produc...

1987th

Ryle House Magazine

This Ryle House Magazine, from 1987, was produced to raise money for the Charities Appeal. The 1987-88 academic year proved to be a very successful year for the Brighton College Charities Campaign. A total of £3500 was raised by the efforts of pupils ...

1987th

Photograph of the 1987 Common Room

A photograph of the Common Room staff in 1987. At this time the Head Master was Bill Blackshaw.

1995th

Photograph of the Service of Thanksgiving for 150 years of Brighton College

The service of Thanksgiving inaugurating the Sesquicentenary of Brighton College, on the 28th January 1995 and presided by the Bishop of Chichester. The Right Reverend David Connor, the Bishop of Lynn, preached to a full congregation at St Peter's, th...

1995th

Programme of events for the Brighton College Sesquicentenary

1995 marked the Sesquicentenary of Brighton College. To celebrate its 150th Birthday, the College held a number of events over the year. This included the service of thanksgiving, the opening of the Hordern Room, a Victorian Fete, an archival exhibiti...

1998th

Photograph of the College Library

A photograph of the College Library, from the 1998 prospectus. The School Library was moved to the Gilbert Scott Room in 1960, and has remained there for over 60 years. In the early 2000s the library underwent a major renovation, with the creation of ...

2000th

Photograph of the Performing Arts Centre

The Performing Arts Centre was opened in 2000, by Mr Neville Abraham, whose generosity had made the whole scheme possible. The new facility completely transformed the wind-swept back quad, providing music rooms and a dance studio. On the ground floor ...

2000th

Photograph of the 2000 Girls Cricket 1st XI

The school has developed some brilliant female cricketers over the years, many of whom have gone on to represent England and have help the team win the ICC World Cup and World T20.

2004th

Photograph of the Sammy Woods Pavilion

The Sammy Woods Pavilion opened in 2004. The College's original cricket pavilion was on the opposite side of the Home Ground, now the site of the School of Science and Sport, and was designed by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson. With an ever-expanding school...

2005th

Photograph of the production of 'On the Town'

Cast members from Damon Kerr’s spectacular musical, “On the Town” in 2005.

2006th

Page 1 of the Brightonian Magazine, showing the first piece written by Richard Cairns

Richard Cairns took up the role of Head Master in 2006. The new Head Master introduced himself to the College community in the 2006 issue of the Brightonian Magazine. Mr Cairns would quickly make his mark on the school, with bold initiatives that aime...

2006th

Photograph of a Mandarin Lesson

Given the extraordinary growth of China, the introduction of Mandarin to the curriculum was a logical step, helping the students look to the future. Here, pupils are practicing their characters. Three of the first pupils to study Mandarin throughout t...

2008th

Photograph of the Alexander Visual Arts Centre

At long last, the Art Department, that had been envisioned in the early 1970s, was be built on top of the Woolton Building. The Alexander Visual Arts Centre opened in 2008. It is a large loft-style studio and photography unit with an abundance of natu...

2011st

Photograph of Brighton College Abu Dhabi

In November 2011 the first Brighton College International School opened its doors, at Abu Dhabi. By 2020, an additional four International Schools had opened: Al Ain, Bangkok, Dubai, and Singapore. In 2018, there were over 4500 pupils across the world...

2014th

Photograph of Macbeth production

Photograph of the College's 2014 production of Macbeth. Drama continues to remain strong at Brighton College, with four major performances per year, open to all pupils. Pupils regularly take part in the National Theatre's New Views play-writing compet...

2014th

Photograph of the the unveiling of Cairns Tower, 2014.

In 2014, The Cairns Tower was completed, according to plans by Richard Griffith Architects. The Gothic structure is named after the College’s modern-day Head Master, Richard Cairns. It had originally been designed by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson, in 1884...

2015th

Programme for the Music School opening

The Music School was opened by Pink Floyd legend David Gilmour CBE on the 13th November 2015. The building includes the Sarah Abraham Recital Hall, with a capacity for an audience of up to 195, with electronically operated variable acoustic panelling ...

2016th

Photograph of the College Dining Room after refurbishment

The College Dining Hall was refurbished in the summer of 2016. The beautiful wooden benches, complementary colour scheme, and stylish lighting are in keeping with the interior-design throughout the College. The Room is used by pupils at lunchtimes, an...

2017th

Photograph of the Kai Yong Yeoh Building

On the 19th September 2017, Malaysian businessman and philanthropist Mark Yeoh returned to his alma mater, Brighton College, for the official opening of the College's new academic building, named after his mother Puan Sri Kai Yong Yeoh, who spent her ...

2017th

Photograph of the Brighton College Pride Parada Float

Brighton College's float for Brighton's Pride Parade in 2017. That year, Brighton College became the first private school in the country to join a Pride Parade.

2020th

Programme for the opening of the School of Science and Sport

The College's much-anticipated new building, The School of Science and Sport, was officially opened on the 16th January 2020, by The Right Honourable Sir Nicholas Soames, former MP for Mid Sussex and former Minister for the Armed Forces. This brought ...

2020th

Photograph of the School of Science and Sport

Reflecting the College's forward-thinking approach to education, the pioneering School of Science and Sport, designed by world-renowned Dutch architects OMA, offers pupils an inspiring, exciting, and collaborative workspace. The building boasts 18 uni...

2020th

School of the Decade

Amidst the struggles and challenges of the Coronavirus Pandemic, which brought life across the world to a halt in 2020, and has continued well into 2021, Brighton College was awarded the prestigious title of School of the Decade by The Sunday Times, o...