It can’t have escaped your notice that The Royal Sussex County Hospital is currently undergoing a facelift, almost two hundred years after it opened. The redevelopment (pictured below) will see the replacement of all the buildings on the front side of the main site, giving the hospital a completely new look on the outside as well as improved facilities and increased capacity on the inside. It is due to be completed at the end of 2024, after nine years of work and at a cost of almost £500 million pounds.


Many people will be sad to say goodbye to the Barry Building which was the original Sussex County Hospital and General Sea Bathing Infirmary. It was named after the architect Charles Barry, one of the most important architects of public buildings at this time. Best known for his role in the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, he also invented the 19th century Palazzo style and gave us St. Peter’s Church in London Road. The Barry Building was finished in 1828, twenty years before Florence Nightingale started nursing. It is the oldest inpatient ward block in England.

As I write, the beautiful Notre Dame De Paris continues to smoulder – a terribly sad and distressing sight for all those who witnessed it. Our own St. Peter’s also stands on an island, perhaps not as romantic as the Seine – between two major roads into Brighton – but undoubtedly inspired by the Gothic architecture of Notre Dame. Sometimes referred to as “the Cathedral of Brighton”, it too has a fine organ and a selection of stained glass windows. We lost one of our great piers to fire in 2003 and I regret never having taken the tour after its closure in 1975. I thought I’d get around to it sooner or later. I’ve never been inside St Peter’s church but perhaps now I’ll go and take a look.

The original Barry Building

The hospital redevelopment also includes the addition of two further levels to the Thomas Kemp Tower as well as a helideck on its roof. The original Tower Block was completed in 1970 and included a new maternity unit, replacing Sussex Maternity Hospital in Buckingham Road. It wasn’t known as the Thomas Kemp Tower until much later (Kemp, incidentally, was the son of a local property developer and politician and is known for developing the 19th century Regency style residential area of Kemp Town).

The first baby born in the new unit was Emma, daughter of Mrs Mary Stubberfield, who was presented with a premium bond by the hospital chairman. To mark 50 years of maternity services in the Thomas Kemp Tower I would like to find some of the people born there in 1970 or early 1971 – can you help me? Please email me if you were one of those babies or you know one.

About the author

Katy Wells has been a long standing supporter of our charity and is now employed as our Fundraiser. Email Katy here.


Friends of Brighton & Hove Hospitals

Working with the NHS across Brighton & Hove by raising money for equipment and services to support patient well-being.