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Brighton Fringe 2013

Pavilion Gardens Cafe History Tour

David Sewell and Geoff Mead

Genre: Outdoor and Promenade

Venue: Pavilion Gardens Cafe and all over Brighton


Low Down

This delightfully personal tour features cafe owner David Sewell and local historian and tour guide Geoff Mead leading us through the history of the cafe and its owners from Victorian times up to the present day.  


This tour was led by local history expert Geoff Mead. Geoff was a great choice to lead this tour, with his wealth of knowledge of the city and ability to bring the past to life with his passion for facts, stories and details of social history, geology and geography. Geoff walks and talks fast, leaving his followers to scuttle along in the wake of his black coat flapping in the wind like a giant wise old bird, straining to listen for his asides and anecdotes about anything and everything they pass on the way to the next stop.
This tour was unusual and doubly interesting because it had a uniquely personal touch in the form of David Sewell, the owner of the Pavilion Gardens Cafe, who accompanied us on the walk. David is the 3rd generation of cafe owner and possesses a fine photograph album documenting the history of the cafe via pictures of his parents and grand parents. We see them serving customers at both the Pavilion Gardens and their previous other cafe sites on the seafront, on waterside pitches now long gone but still identifiable by landmarks such as certain stretches of wall or seafront arches visible in the photographs.
As the tour takes us down to the Seafront via East Street and back towards the gardens via Preston Street, Geoff delights his audience by imparting his wisdom regarding long-departed shops and businesses, and an aside about our architecturally stunning local synagogue, before leading us back to the Pavilion gardens where the tour finishes. The delving into local history continues over tea and a choice of delicious cake (included in the price of the tour) as we sit down to hear David recounting the tale of his grandfather going to collect cake for the cafe in his wheelbarrow from somewhere in the Hanover area of Brighton – and Geoff is able to fill in the detail by telling David that there used to be a bakery in Whippingham Rd, which would fit the description exactly.
The cafe have recently opened their own website where you can see some of the photos presented on the tour as well as read up on the history of the cafe, the gardens and its trees, and view upcoming events such as Sunday afternoon band concerts.
An interesting and entertaining tour, packed with information and a relaxing way to spend an afternoon for both locals and visitors alike.