History

Opened in 1872

Brighton Aquarium was conceived and designed by Eugenius Birch, the architect responsible for the West Pier. Work began in 1869 and the building opened in 1872. The project cost £133,000 (equivalent to around £5.5 million today).

Interior Design

Birch's original design incorporated archways, detailed stonework and columns influenced by Gothic and Pompeian design. He also built statues made from Bath stone, red Edinburgh granite and green marble.  

Roof Terrace

The roof terrace was finished in 1874, with a number of activities added in 1876 including a roller skating rink, smoking room, cafe and music conservatory. 

1927 reconstruction

After running into financial difficulties, the aquarium was obtained by the Brighton Corporation. They carried out extensive reconstruction work between 1927 and 1929, changing a lot of Birch's original design. 

1929

The aquarium was reopened in 1929 with a grand ceremony. However, it still failed to find its identity and was regarded as a 'white elephant' in the community. 

During the War

When the war started, the aquarium was requisitioned by the RAF as Brighton and Hove was heavily targeted by the Germans. In the picture you can see workmen building a sandbag barrier.

The Florida Rooms

In the 50s and 60s the aquarium hosted a music venue called The Florida Rooms, with many jazz artists filling the centre with music every night. The most famous act to play regularly was The Who, who had a show every Wednesday for an entrance fee of one shilling and six pence (15 pence in new money). It was the place to be seen for local mods. 

Montagu Motor Museum

Between 1961 and 1969 the aquarium was also home to the Montagu Motor Museum, which was the largest collection of vintage motors and sports cars in the UK.

Dolphinarium

From 1970 - 1991 the aquarium became a dolphinarium and hosted regular dolphin and seal shows. Whilst initially popular, changing public opinions on dolphins in captivity changed and their cramped conditions increasingly came under fire in the 80s.

SEA LIFE

In 1991, SEA LIFE bought the aquarium and rehabilitated and released the dolphins back to the wild. It then set about on a £1.5million restoration. Over the course of the years SEA LIFE has made other alterations including restoring the Victorian Arcade back to its original glory. In September 2018 the ocean tank will begin the final and biggest stage of refurbishment. 

Opened in 1872

Brighton Aquarium was conceived and designed by Eugenius Birch, the architect responsible for the West Pier. Work began in 1869 and the building opened in 1872. The project cost £133,000 (equivalent to around £5.5 million today).

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Opened in 1872

Brighton Aquarium was conceived and designed by Eugenius Birch, the architect responsible for the West Pier. Work began in 1869 and the building opened in 1872. The project cost £133,000 (equivalent to around £5.5 million today).

Show previous slide
Show next slide

Interior Design

Birch's original design incorporated archways, detailed stonework and columns influenced by Gothic and Pompeian design. He also built statues made from Bath stone, red Edinburgh granite and green marble.  

Show previous slide
Show next slide

Interior Design

Birch's original design incorporated archways, detailed stonework and columns influenced by Gothic and Pompeian design. He also built statues made from Bath stone, red Edinburgh granite and green marble.  

Show previous slide
Show next slide

Roof Terrace

The roof terrace was finished in 1874, with a number of activities added in 1876 including a roller skating rink, smoking room, cafe and music conservatory. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide

Roof Terrace

The roof terrace was finished in 1874, with a number of activities added in 1876 including a roller skating rink, smoking room, cafe and music conservatory. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide

1927 reconstruction

After running into financial difficulties, the aquarium was obtained by the Brighton Corporation. They carried out extensive reconstruction work between 1927 and 1929, changing a lot of Birch's original design. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide

1927 reconstruction

After running into financial difficulties, the aquarium was obtained by the Brighton Corporation. They carried out extensive reconstruction work between 1927 and 1929, changing a lot of Birch's original design. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide

1929

The aquarium was reopened in 1929 with a grand ceremony. However, it still failed to find its identity and was regarded as a 'white elephant' in the community. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide

1929

The aquarium was reopened in 1929 with a grand ceremony. However, it still failed to find its identity and was regarded as a 'white elephant' in the community. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide

During the War

When the war started, the aquarium was requisitioned by the RAF as Brighton and Hove was heavily targeted by the Germans. In the picture you can see workmen building a sandbag barrier.

Show previous slide
Show next slide

During the War

When the war started, the aquarium was requisitioned by the RAF as Brighton and Hove was heavily targeted by the Germans. In the picture you can see workmen building a sandbag barrier.

Show previous slide
Show next slide

The Florida Rooms

In the 50s and 60s the aquarium hosted a music venue called The Florida Rooms, with many jazz artists filling the centre with music every night. The most famous act to play regularly was The Who, who had a show every Wednesday for an entrance fee of one shilling and six pence (15 pence in new money). It was the place to be seen for local mods. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide

The Florida Rooms

In the 50s and 60s the aquarium hosted a music venue called The Florida Rooms, with many jazz artists filling the centre with music every night. The most famous act to play regularly was The Who, who had a show every Wednesday for an entrance fee of one shilling and six pence (15 pence in new money). It was the place to be seen for local mods. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide

Montagu Motor Museum

Between 1961 and 1969 the aquarium was also home to the Montagu Motor Museum, which was the largest collection of vintage motors and sports cars in the UK.

Show previous slide
Show next slide

Montagu Motor Museum

Between 1961 and 1969 the aquarium was also home to the Montagu Motor Museum, which was the largest collection of vintage motors and sports cars in the UK.

Show previous slide
Show next slide

Dolphinarium

From 1970 - 1991 the aquarium became a dolphinarium and hosted regular dolphin and seal shows. Whilst initially popular, changing public opinions on dolphins in captivity changed and their cramped conditions increasingly came under fire in the 80s.

Show previous slide
Show next slide

Dolphinarium

From 1970 - 1991 the aquarium became a dolphinarium and hosted regular dolphin and seal shows. Whilst initially popular, changing public opinions on dolphins in captivity changed and their cramped conditions increasingly came under fire in the 80s.

Show previous slide
Show next slide

SEA LIFE

In 1991, SEA LIFE bought the aquarium and rehabilitated and released the dolphins back to the wild. It then set about on a £1.5million restoration. Over the course of the years SEA LIFE has made other alterations including restoring the Victorian Arcade back to its original glory. In September 2018 the ocean tank will begin the final and biggest stage of refurbishment. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide

SEA LIFE

In 1991, SEA LIFE bought the aquarium and rehabilitated and released the dolphins back to the wild. It then set about on a £1.5million restoration. Over the course of the years SEA LIFE has made other alterations including restoring the Victorian Arcade back to its original glory. In September 2018 the ocean tank will begin the final and biggest stage of refurbishment. 

Show previous slide
Show next slide