The Christmas Season is once again upon us and folks everywhere are making travel plans for the up coming holidays. It is no different here I once again I will be hosting a Christmas trip to the town that time forgot, the imagainary town of Brighton. I have made accommodatations for myself and you, my fellow travelers for this year's visit. Over the past several years Brighton has undergone some major construction and attempts to modernize the city so there will be much to see on our visit. We will be arriving in Brighton in the late afternoon and will have plenty of time to see the city before the big choral recital at midnight in the new church plaza. So let's begin our tour.

We arrive in Brighton on board H.M.S. Britannia, a combination steam and sailing ship. In the view below you can see H.M.S. Britannia at her berth on the left side of the harbor. Captain Balfour is instructing one of the seamen to get our luggage moved to the Timbers Hotel and placed in our rooms. The newly refurbished harbor has larger berths for the new generation of ships and increased wearhouse storage for the increased amount of cargo that is expected to be coming into the port. Let's take a stroll through the harbor.

The old boardwalk, which was constantly rotting from the salt, has been replaced with cut stone pavers making a much better all weather surface. From this view we can see a famous village landmark, the Melancholy Tavern. Located here in the harbor the tavern provides the best in spirits for those who wish a strong drink the to help deal with the cold. While the tavern is mostly frequented by sailors, the upstairs rooms have been set aside for the serving of that pernicious drink -- Gin! Two of Brighton's "gentlemen" can be seen standing in front of the tavern where they have continued their holiday celebration outdoors on the deck with a few last drinks before heading home. Seated at the outdoor table is Ned Ludd who is enjoying one of the Tavern's wines while the table still holds one of the seamen's stein of ale and an abandoned jug. To the left of the street lamp is the beginning of the falls walkway. We should take this opportunity to see the falls before is gets completely dark.

The walk from the tavern to the falls is only a few hundred feet, but it is a popular hangout for both locals and tourists. Many of Brighton's citizens come to this walkway to watch a sunset over the Irish Sea. I see Sarah Higgins has brought both her children and her mother to see tonight's sunset. The village remodeling has paved this walk and installed both lights and benches.

Brighton's Lower Falls is rather unique in that a cave has been hollowed out behind the falls. While the rocks can be quite slippery the cave does provide some shelter from the wind while still providing a beautiful view of the sea. Samual Johnston operates a fish and chips stand in the cave and the brazier used to cook the food also serves to keep both him and his customers warm. Sarah's children find it is a special treat to have the fish and chips here at the falls.

Having seen the Lower Falls we can return to the harbor and finish our walk. Just past the Melancholy Travern is William Plumstead's dockside Market. Located directly on the dock William gets his pick of the fresh produce brought in by the ships. Currently he is showing fresh apples, carrots and squash all for sale. Being on the docks William likes to keep a barrel of ale on tap outdoors for the sailors who come into the harbor. It looks like he is bringing in a fresh barrel to replace the one on tap next to the apple box.

In the berth behind H.M.S. Britannia rides the Emily Louise just returned from a trip to the orient. I know Mr. Wong has been hoping this shipment would get in before Christmas, so he should be quite happy. We can stop by his shop later on our tour. Captain Binghamton is still supervising the unloading of the ship. Behind the Emily Louise and at the base of the stairs is the "Artful Dodger, Fagin's barrel shop. With so many ships coming and going in the port Fagin has built a quite successful industry supplying new barrels for the ships. The oppening of the new port this year has increased his business nearly 200%. The cold weather often freezes water in some of the coastal coves. When the seas are rough the pounding surf often breaks some of the ice and sets it adrift. Thus chunks of sea ice often float into the harbor when the tide rises. The custom's house employs several men for the seasonal work of removing the ice so that it does not damage the ships.

Earlier today Ernest Tipler, who owns the village Wine and Spirits shop, was notified that a shipment of fine wines had arrived in time for the holiday sales. His son Edward is currently at the Customs House inspecting the new shipment. The "Artful Dodger" Fagin is standing by watching the transactions. From the stein of ale in his hand, I know what his beverage of choice happens to be.

Next to the customs house is Fezziwig's dockside warehouse. While many of the goods brought into the port can be seen stacked all along the docks, the more valuable products are stored in the wearhouse. The rents for this space has brought success for Fezziwig business. He also has a horse drawn wagon to deliver goods to various village shops and to the new railroad station where they can be loaded onto the daily trains and quickly shiped to all parts of the country. Next to the warehouse is where I suggest we have dinner this evening. The Blue Marlin Seafood Grotto provides all types of bounty from the sea. Tonight, right in front of the eatery I can see two men cleaning fresh fish. The fish are being kept in a tub of ice while they are being cleaned. The great number of gulls swooping about the harbor know exactly where they can find a fresh meal. It has been reported the a North Atlantic bottlenose dolphin often frequents the harbor looking for handouts. If you keep a sharp eye you just might see him swimming about the harbor. Next to the Blue Marlin is the boat repair shop. Shamus O'Hara bought space during the harbor remodeling to put in this repair shop. It is another of the reason why ships completing long voyages like to put in at Brighton as it is one of the few harbors on the coast with repair facilities. With the new railroad station in the village speciality parts can be rapidly brought in to get the ships back to sea.

I wonder what Captain Ned Miller of the Brighton Fire Department is doing running through the port at this hour?

Now I know what fire chief Miller is running through the harbor for. Behind Fezziwig's warehouse a small blaze seems to have broken out. If you listen you might be able to hear the approach of the new village fire engine. Hopefully they will get the fire put out and things will get back to normal before we return to theBlue Marlin for dinner later tonight.

Next to the boat repair stand the old inn known as the Grapes. The inn is a favorite for seamen not only for its reputation for having clean bedding, but also for its renoun collection of old ales and bitters. As you can see, there is no shortage of places to get a drink in this sailor's haven. I see at least one sailor has by passed the ales for a stroll on the beach in front of the Grapes. He seems to have been lucky enough to find a nearly undamaged seashell washed up on the shore.

The last location in the harbor is the Brighton Harbor Lighthouse. Located on a rocky point at the harbor entrance, its beacon has served to help ships find their way to port. The lighthouse was first build in 1846 and rebuilt in 1878. The house features a Fresnel Lens and can be seen up to 16 miles at sea. The power for the light originally came from whale oil, but was changed to kerosene in the early 1860's. Willian Kilroy was the original lighthouse keeper and his sons and now grandson still man the lighthouse. If you look crefully you can see Bill, glasses in hand, peering out to sea looking for the next ship that is due in. (For the record, all lighthouse facts above are from the first lighthouse built on England's west coast overlooking the Irish Sea. And yes, the Kilroy family has been working at the lighthouse now for 170 years.

Standing on the rocky point in front of the lighthouse is a young mother with her daughter and nearly one year old baby. She has come down to the lighthouse to watch for and hope her husband's ship comes home in time for Christmas. This was a sad fact of life for many English wives and mothers who saw their husbands sail off to sea, sometimes for years at a time. The Sun may never have set on the British Empire in the 19th century but I'm certain that many wives and mothers often wished that it might. This is all a sad reminder that many people will not be at home with loved ones this holiday season.

Now that we hae completed our tour of the port, lets head on up to the new section of town, known as the Estates. We can take the stairs by Fagin's barrel shop up to Portobello Road. Note the new iron gateway sign marking the entrance. I think we should wait for Eddie Wilson to get his dog back on its leash. You can see the dog racing up the stairs to get back to Eddie who is offering a treat to his dog.

In order to complete the port renovations it took some rerouting of the Sheffield River. The lands where the Estates now stand until recently belonged to Lord Sheffield. He agreed to open this plot of land for both housing and for a new river route to control the flooding that often plagued the port. England, well know for the skill of its canal building engineers was certainly up to the task. The Sheffield River was contained in what is now a pleasant canal that flows through the Estates. Let's check out the complete remodeling of the area.

The water for the canal, comes down from the highland wetlands and now flows along the edge of the Estates before making a left turn to head for the Lower Falls we visited earlier.

This section of the river begins at the Middle Falls which are channeled into a tunnel that comes out just behind the bridge. From the bridge area to the falls the waters run quiet and slow making for an ideal boating area. Young Timothy Brown is taking his grandfather for a ride down this section of the river right now.

The river turns left, after passing the new Coffee House and follows Portobello Road to the drop off for the falls. This area is a favorite location for villagers to gather to look to the seas for a sunset view. It is just above the walkway where we earlier took the walk to see the Lower Falls. Tonight we can see several villagers enjoying the view. Sadly Mr. Brookfield isn't one, as he seems to be quite busy cleaning up from the recent snowfall. A pair of graceful swans seem to be enjoying the river as well.

The coffee house has one of the new style glass roofs made popular by Prince Albert's London Crystal Palace. When the area was rebuilt care was taken to save as many of the trees as possible thus the area is still home to a variety of birds. The Coffee House feeds them to keep them around thus adding color to the area. A delivery of fish is being made by Edgar Harper while some guests are enjoying a last cup of coffee before heading over to the church for tonight's Christmas carols.

Here we can see Mr. Moneypenny sitting on one of the outdoor benches reading the paper. He has a bottle of champagne on ice next to him, so I would suppose he is waiting for a lady friend to join him for a glass of the fine champagne.

At the end of the canal Portobello roads turns to the right and leads back to Saint Stephens Church. At the turning point an elegant series of apartments for rent have been built. Those who can afford the rent can enjoy a wonderful view of the sea from their front windows. Right now it would seems that some of the residents are heading out to get to the church plaza for tonight's carols.

From the corner, by the Crowntree Apartments we can look back up Portobello Road toward Saint Stephen's Church. This is a beautiful section of the road with its trees lining the roadside.

Near the end of the road stands Saint Stephens the oldest church in the community. The church was build the the Sheffield family several genarations ago. Today the church is run by the Ursaline nuns and services are still held. Lord Sheffield and his family still use this church and are rarely seen at the great church on the plaza at the center of town. I think I see a pair of raccoons rumaging among some tree stumps behind the church. It is clear that wildlife is still abundant in this part of town.

In front of Saint Stephens Portobello Road splits. To the left it runs to the new set of rowhouses and to the right it leads to Sherlock Holmes' house overlooking the harbor. From here we can see a family leaving the rowhouses and heading downtown. Jason Herald, a village chimney sweep, is heading home afer cleaning Mr. Holmes chimney and Holmes and Watson are seen standing outside discussing their latest case.

From here we can see the Carter family heading out from the rowhouse toward the church on the plaza. Looks like there will be a large crowd there at midnight.

Finally, at the end of Portobello Road is the Holmes residence. While Holmes and Watson are out front, we can still see Holmes famed violin resting in a second story window. Christmas is such a giving time of the year. If you look at the bridge you can see a villager and her daughter carrying platters of food as they head off to visit friends.

Towering above the Estates section of town up on the high bluff stands Sheffield Manor. Several centuries ago the property contained a full castle where residents fled when the Danes and the Irish raided the area. Today the castle is mostly gone, other than one of the towers, but the Sheffield family has build a manor house that incorporated the old architecture with the new. Forests surround the dwelling creating privacy for the family. The two Sheffield children, Andrew and Julia have just finished building a snowman and are now taking a break. There were supposed to get some logs from the wood pile seen to the left of the castle in order to build a fire in the fireplace, but they seen to have gotten sidetracked as kids will do.

The area is so wooded that deer are frequently seen roaming through the trees letting the area retain that woodland feeling.

To the right of Sheffield Manor stands the highland wetlands. When the new railroad was built a tunnel was cut through the rock to complete the route. From this view you can see the beginning of the new railroad trestle. Here in the wetlands is the base of the Upper Falls which is much smaller than the Lower Falls. The area still teams with wildlife. I can see two deer and in the trees on the lower right there seems to be a barred owl.

Here in the trees above the train tunnel I can see a red fox looking for his Christmas dinner. The rabbits he is looking for can be seen in the lower right corner hiding in the shadows of the pine tree.

Finally, deep in the woodlands there is a black bear strolling through the birch and pine forest.

Now that we have finished our tour of the Estate section we can return to main section of the village. We will have to walk back to the harbor and then across harbor to the Timbers Hotel that stands on the Strand, the main street in the village. From the view below we get a full view of the new railroad trestle which begins at the wetlands and extends across the harbor to the station next to the church plaza.

The late night express train is coming across the trestle as it arrives in Brighton. Here then is the cause of the fire we saw in the harbor earlier this evening. Sometimes burning embers fall from the train and can ignite dry brush laying on the ground below. When the idea for the railroad was first discussed it was decided that a village fire department would be needed as well to protect the village from such accidents. Fire is the greatest problem for most 19th century urban areas with their wooden structure.

After crossing the harbor a narrow lane connects the harbor to the old city plaza. Walking through the lane takes you to the front of theTimbers Hotel and the Norfolk Bakery

As we enter the plaza we can see Norman Biffins holding a tray of fresh baked goods. One of the village dogs appears intent on talking him out of more than just a sample. The Hendricks have just emerged from the Timbers Hotel and are head to the curb to hale a hack.

The hack (English for cab) has just arrived and Mr. Davis the hotel porter is loading the Hendricks luggage into the hack. To the left of the hotel is a boot shine boy polishing the boots of one of the hotel guests.

Directly across the Strand (the main roadway running through the old city) is where Thomas Hankerson sets up his charcoal braizer to make Christmas Chestnuts. The chestnuts are a favorite of the villagers who annually seek out his roasted nuts. He has a customer there picking up an order right now. Coming down the Strand is Mr. Fezziwig driving his delivery wagon. He is trying to get all the last minute delivers made so no one will miss their gifts on Christmas.

Next to the hotel is the Brighton City Waterworks. With so much of the city being built high above the water a pump house was needed to lift the water to the upper levels of the village. Now, as darkness is descending on the village the village lamp lighter is making his rounds. Since all the lamps are gas each one needs to be lit by hand each night and then extinguished each morning. There are more than 80 street lamps to be lit each night. Part of the new city budget allows for constables salaries. With the number of ships arriving and the corresponding number of strangers in town the citizens felt adding a team of bobbies (policemen) was necessary.

Through the efforts of Lord Gainsworth and others on the city council, Brighton has been able to acquire a new waterpumping, horse drawn fire engine. This is the engine that was used earlier this evening to extinguish the warehourse fire we saw in the harbor district.

Between the fire station and the base of the church plaza is the lane that leads to some of brighton's speciality shops.

As we enter the lane we will pass the new covered skating rink. The rink is cut out from the rock below the plaza.

The first shop we pass walking down the lane is the village toy shop. The Thomas brothers have been hand making toys in their shop their entire lives. Here we see one of the brothers demonstrating his toys for excited children coming from the skating rink.

Walking past the toy shop we get to the little square in front of the toy shop and the clock shop. The younger Thomas brother is showing his hand puppets to several children. Ronald Davis, the clock maker is making a last minute delivery of a grandfather clock to somelucky village resident.

If we climb the stairs in front of the clockshop we will arrive at the last of the specialty shops, the Tipler's Wine and Spirits and the Antiquarian Book Seller. Earlier we saw the younger Tipler at the custom house checking out a shipment of new wines and now Ernest Tipler appears to be offering them to on of Brighton's more distinguished residents. The shop keeper of the books store seems to be struggling with a mighty arm load of new books. I hope that one of them is the Dickens classic, a Christmas Carol.

Below is a view of the specialty shop section of Brighton.

As we return to the Strand and walk past the Timbers and the Biffin's Bakery we get to the part of the road that begins the climb to the high city. At the base of the road stands the Wheatcakes and Pudding shop. This is the best place in town to get your Christmas plum pudding.

Once we pass the wheatcakes shop the climb to the top get quite steep. Let's get started. Starting with a view of the harbor on the left we can then see the trestle with the express train on its way to the village station. The two street lamps to the right of the trestle help to light theroadway. If you look carefully you can see two of Mr. Wong's Chinese workers carrying part of the new shipment or oriental products up to his shop. At the top of the road you can see Lord Sheffield's wife on her horse at the Bayly Blacksmith Shop.

The view below shows the top level of the village extending from the wetlands on the left to Scrooge Enterprizes on the right. We will trael down this roadway on our way to the church plaza.

Starting on the far left and at the top of the climb up the Strand is Bayly's Blacksmith shop. The Bayly family has been the blacksmith to the Sheffields for generations. He also shoes other horses in the village for extra income. At Bayly's we see the smith hard at work and his faithful dog busy chasing off geese who are trying to steal grain from the horses.

To the right of Bayly's is the gateway that enters Lord Sheffield's estate. The lord and his lady are just returning from a horseback ride as we pass the gateway.

Next to Bayly's stands the Old Curiosity Shop. The shop is full of wonderous old curios thaat will delight a child and bring back fond memories to any adult.

Continuing down the roadway we will next pass the Lamp Shop. With times changing and new inventions in lighting being created all the time the village lamp shop has the lastest in lighting for home, business or wagons. In front of the lamp shop I can see Neil Wellbourn showing his wares to a potential customer.

Nextk to the lampshop is the China Trader, the establishment of Mr. Wong. His new shipment of goods is being carried to the shop by the Chinese workers we passed on the road to the top of the village.

Next to the China Trader is the bank owned by Mr. Blenham. The financing for the new construction in Brighton was supported and backed by Mr. Blenham. Financing the railroad trestle, the harbor remodeling, the new firehouse and construction on the Estates development I'm sure provided enough income to give Mr. Blenham and his family a very Merry Christmas. The man about to walk past Mr.Blenham is the village postman. He picks up the posts from the arriving trains and then delivers them throughout the village. You can always tell when he is coming by the ring of his bell.

Through the office window we can see old Scrooge sitting at his desk in his counting house totaling the day's profits. Outside Bob Cratchit has Tiny Tim on his shoulders as they head to the church plaza to hear the Christmas Carols that will begin at midnight.

Tiny Tim and his father, Bob Cratchit on their way to hear the Christmas Carols.

Below is the full view of the right side of the village. We can see the Timbers Hotel and plaza on the left, the specialty shops are in the lower right corner and the great church stands on top of the grey stone outcrop. The shops on the high road starting with the lamp shop and continuing to Scrooge and Cratchit's dwellings can be seen across the back. All we have left to vist is the plaza in from of the great church.

The old Gothic church has been on the high bluff to the right of the village for several centuries. However, the remodeling program created a two toned marble plaza as a beautiful showcase for the old church. At night the views of the Church from the Coffee House or the canal side of the Estates is simply glorious. Enjoy the view below.

This view offers a good look at some of the happenings around the old church. In the top left the choir can be seen practicing under the direction of three monks. In the lowwer right corner a family has set up a bazaar style stand to sell home made woolens. In the lower center the church gardener is watering some of the many potted plants.

In this direct view from the top we can see Brighton's Parliamentary Minister chatting with the church father. They are discussing how their plans have finally come together to create this city centerpiece along with the prosperty that will come to the village with all the new additions (look to the center left by the streetlight). Some people have already begun to gather on the stairs to hear the choir when they begin singing. On the upper plaza next to the church there is a poor family receiving free bread distributed by the church. The choirc an be seen in the lower right corner finishing their last minute practice for the concert.

Finally, we hae this view of the new fountain that adds a touch of ancient class to the plaza.

Standing on the extended ledge two city council members are congratulating themselves for the new fire house just below. Their votes helped to get the station completed.

Our final view of the plaza shows the entrance to the church aglow with the new lighting and ready for Christmas.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to visit my little Christmas town of Brighton this year. I hope you enjoyed the narritive and your tour of the city. I really had a grand time building this display. My final wish is that each of you have a blessed Christmas and enjoy the time with your family and friends. May the spirit of the season be yours...



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