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Looking Forward

This year there is much to look forward to at West Hill Hall. Our monthly Quiz Nights are as popular as ever  and we are really grateful to our ever growing band of Quiz setters. It’s a really rollicking evening of fun and fiendish questions, as well as being a great way of meeting local residents and raising money to help us look after the Hall.

Our series of local history talks continue in May and October.

In this issue we also look forward to commemorating 120 years since the death of West Hill local boy, Aubrey Beardsley, and remembering it is 100 years since the first steps to Women’s Suffrage in the UK. It turned out to be one small step for womankind – still a long way to go.

Beardsley 120: The Death of Pierrot

In 2018 a series of events will commemorate 120 years since the death of Brighton-born artist Aubrey Beardsley. The events are co-ordinated by Alexia Lazou (aka Victorians Valued), including tours and talks. Details of the programme are on beardsley120.eventbrite.co.uk. Some of the events are free entry/donations and some associated events have an admission charge. For further information please see website or email: victoriansvalued@gmail.com

Bite-Size Museum Talk 
Aubrey Beardsley: 120 Years After The Death of Pierrot

Tuesday 27 March 12pm, Brighton Museum. Free with admission, members and residents free.

Brighton-born artist Aubrey Beardsley died in 1898 at the tragically early age of twenty five. Come and discover more about him, see two of his original drawings close up, and hear about some of the ways he has been commemorated during the 120 years since his untimely death. With Alexia Lazou, Collections Assistant.

See more details at https://tinyurl.com/y785wy6c


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‘Father Christmas up to date’ from Life Magazine 1896

Season’s Greetings

2017 has been a year of refurbishment and renewal at West Hill Hall. The guttering at the back of the Hall was repaired to complement the newly constructed pathway and retaining wall. Then, in May, the courtyard was resurfaced and a decking area was built at the side of the Hall so our new band of volunteer gardeners could rest their weary muscles from their hard work transforming the garden. The biggest expense was the total refurbishment of the kitchen, which was in dire need of renovation. Our favourite decorating / constructing / plumbing / electrifying wizards Simon and Pete of Skydec took three weeks to complete the upgrade.

In 2018 we want to tackle the toilets and convert one of them into a disabled loo. It won’t come cheap so we’ll be fundraising by holding our monthly Quiz, twice-annual local history talks, and more. We look forward to seeing you!

In this issue, under a marvellous poem about refugees, you’ll see a small piece about Paddington Bear taken from The Big Issue sold to your editor by Darren, that Seven Dials stalwart who’s often to be seen selling The Big Issue outside the Co-op. He has plenty of copies and it’s well worth a read to see the full article. It’s amusing and thought-provoking.

We’re excited at the prospect of welcoming local residents to the annual West Hill Social on Saturday 9 December – tickets are on sale at Bright News.


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                                   Gluck, Lilies, detail, 1932-6. Private Collection

There is much to look forward to at West Hill Hall this Autumn.

First date is the one you’ve already saved, 10 October at 7.30pm when Sarah Tobias will be giving WHCA’s Autumn local history talk on the ‘Hidden History of Brighton’s Parks and Gardens’.

Next is the annual Christmas Fair on Saturday 25 November from 11am.

And finally, we will be holding WHCA’s 20th West Hill Christmas Social on Saturday 9 December. Everyone is welcome but it’s a strictly ticketed affair. Tickets go on sale on November 15 in Bright News – don’t leave it until the last moment to get them as this event is always a sell-out. This year, along with a sit-down Indian meal, the chance to catch up with friends and neighbours and make new friends, we’ll be featuring local musicians. Can’t wait.

To get you in shape for the Autumn,  there are four new weekly daytime classes at West Hill Hall on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. See the information from our new starters in New at the Hall.


Gluck – Art and Identity

18 November 2017 to 11 March 2018, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

The 20th century artist Gluck (1895-1978) now also recognised as a trailblazer of gender fluidity, is the subject of this major new exhibition.  Born Hannah Gluckstein into a wealthy Jewish family, the artist adopted the name Gluck and created a controversial masculine identity in the inter-war years.  Gluck soon became known for striking portraits, land/seascapes, stage scenes and floral paintings.

This landmark exhibition will take the approach of a forensic investigation, bringing together key artworks with other surviving evidence of Gluck’s life including clothing, accessories and photographs.



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The doors are flung thankfully open,

As teachers breathe an intense sigh of relief,

Parents hit with cheers, squeals, laughter,

A tsunami of marauding rucksacks,


Sweet, creamy honeysuckle wafts,

Fluffed caramel bees, soft rosy glints

Ball pits of brightly bobbing sunhats

Fuchsia-pink strawberries, sandy footprints.


Smiling faces, loud joyous whoops,

Sticky fingers, melting ice cream,

Spritzes of icy water, unsuspecting faces,

Waves’ crisp summery gleam.


I raise my eyes up to the sky

Speckled with fresh flickers of lemonade sun,

Rich earthy forests, silently, lazily serene

Celebrate! Winter’s gone, and summer has begun.


Thanks to Scarlett Baldwin (12) who loves writing and sent us this poem


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Keeping in Touch

When The Whistler was first published, over 40 years ago, the internet did not exist, and communication between local residents was over the garden wall, at the pub or the church or the local shops. These days, in addition to all of the above, people keep in touch in all sorts of digitally savvy ways – it’s non-stop, 24/7. But there’s nothing quite like reading a local rag, with articles written by residents of the local area, who want to share their stories, reminiscences, views, poems, gossip, outrage, expertise and humour.

We have all sorts of readers: those  who like receiving and reading The Whistler, but never write to tell us that they like it; those who don’t like receiving it and would rather it wasn’t delivered: please let us know if that’s the case and we’ll take you off the distribution list; those who like to share their views  through the Letters page: we  love receiving feedback  – positive or negative – as it reminds us there is an audience out there; those who write one-off offerings, like young Scarlett, whose poem is on the front page, or Robin’s piece on Open Houses, or the anonymous contributor on page 6:  we’d rather know authors’ names, but we understand people’s sensitivities at times. Finally, we love, and are eternally grateful to, those readers who send us one-off articles and then end up writing their own columns for years like David Foot, Peter Batten, Jim Gowans, Andrew Polmear.

Which one are you?


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Stories on the Wing – British Birds in Literature
until 21 September 2017
Booth Museum of Natural History, Dyke Road



The  WHCA AGM in April adopted  reports and accounts from the Trustees. The Hall is well used and maintained; twice-yearly talks on local history and environs have attracted much interest; the Craft Fair and Jumble Bells sale last autumn were both great successes; the nineteenth annual Christmas social went with a bang; the regular monthly Quiz has seen a big influx of participants  and volunteers who take it in turns to set the questions. All very heart-warming.

Equally heart-warming was the response to the request in the last issue of The Whistler for more volunteers to help with the garden at West Hill Hall. We were overwhelmed with the number and calibre of local residents who came forward and offered to help maintain and nurture the garden. Work has begun in earnest to landscape the area at the back of the Hall which was created after the retaining wall was built last year and everyone is pitching in to make our garden grow. Brighton in Bloom here we come!

After the article about sparrows in the last issue, we at The Whistler towers have been looking out for them but in the process are excited to have spotted two lovely Goldfinches in our West Hill garden. According to the 2017 RSPCA Big Garden Birdwatch, Goldfinch numbers have increased by 44% since 2007. It’s certainly the first year they have visited us.


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John Constable, R.A. (1776-1837), Seascape Study: Boat and Stormy Sky, ca. 1824-1828

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the West Hill Community Association, at which the accounts will be adopted and committee elected, will be held on Tuesday 25 April 2017 at the West Hill Hall at 7.15pm.

The aims of WHCA are to keep the Hall available for community use and to publish The Whistler to maintain and improve communication in the local area. West Hill Hall has thrived as a space for community activities ever since we bought it in 1996 and it is the Association’s intention to keep the Hall available and maintained. Regular activities can be seen in the timetable (right) and we also hire it  out for ad hoc activities, kids’ parties and selected music gigs. The Association runs a monthly Quiz and Spring and Autumn local history talks, to which all residents are welcome. See details of the next talk on May 9 below, ‘Herstories: Women, Popular Culture 7 History’ with Dr Louise Fitzgerald.

The business of the AGM will be followed by our perennial favourite, the Quiz. All are welcome. Go on, give it a try. It’s a great way to meet new people in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and get involved with local activities. 2016 saw record numbers of people attending the Quiz and having none-too-serious fun.

2016 was also The Whistler’s 40th birthday and as we continue along our 41st year, we’d love to hear from our readers whether you want us to keep going as we are, change direction, go digital only, include new themes for the articles. We rely on contributions from you, our readers, so please help us steer the content in the direction with subjects that you want to read. We love reading your letters so do keep them coming.


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