Brighton and Hove Snow Diary 2010

The temperature on December 1st 2010 never rose above -0.3ºC and heavy snow fell across Sussex. I started taking photographs two hours before work, in the afternoon and resumed photography after an early finish due to severe weather conditions. Continuous light snow fell until 19:45, when the powdery snow turned very heavy, dumping 15 - 25cm in  just a few hours. I caught the number 6 bus into Brighton city centre, where I spent two hours meeting friendly faces and photographing familiar places in unfamiliar conditions. As I braced myself for a long walk home, I thought I'd pop into Brighton Station on the off-chance that tonight's snow was of the 'right kind'. Miraculously, the 22:34 Southern train to Chichester was on Platform 2. The train crawled up to Preston Park, reversed and struggled along to Portslade.

Hove beach huts in snow


I met Frank on a very cold, snow-swept Hove Promenade. He was out walking his West Highland Terrier. He told me that he owns the Snoopers Paradise on Kensington Gardens, a eclectic emporium of antiques, collectors' items and oddments. I hope Frank gets to see this lovely portrait of himself.

Terrier in snow

Clock Tower in snow

Clock Tower in snow

Snow-covered bicycles in Brighton


Magnus Agugu

Magnus Agugu was overjoyed by the sudden blizzard. He was quite happy to be photographed, while we chatted about the snow and how lucky we were to experience something special like this. I don't think Magnus believed me, when I told him that I take photographs for pleasure and not for a living. Why else would someone carry a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4 IS L USM lens around Brighton in a sub-zero blizzard?

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in Snow

Giant snowball fight in Brighton

Victoria Gardens, Brighton in driving snow

Snowball fight in Victoria Gardens, Brighton

Snowball fight in Brighton

Brighton Clock Tower in snowstorm

West Street, Brighton in December Blizzard

This photograph of West Street (home of Brighton's night-time entertainment for the under 12s) featured in a Puma advert and two Random House books. Thanks to Getty Images, I never located the Puma advert or books. Their royalty statements are very sparse!

Blizzards hit Brighton

Victoria Gardens, Brighton in blizzard

Ambulance in driving snow

Brighton Blizzard


Friday 3rd December 2010: Following an unsuccessful attempt at reaching the Seven Sisters today, I caught the number 5 bus to Patcham and walked 1 mile north onto the South Downs. As I alighted from the bus, the sudden, biting Arctic air entered my lungs and I knew I had let myself in for a serious challenge to my fitness and stamina. Soon, however, I felt boiling hot underneath layers of clothing, as I waded through 30 cm deep snow, which drifted to 50 cm in places.

I arrived at the Chattri 30 minutes later and removed my outer gloves, to set up my camera and tripod. When I picked up the gloves a few minutes later, to my surprise, they were frozen solid! The sweat inside the gloves had frozen within three minutes. Handling my tripod reminded me of what happens when you touch the interior of a freezer cabinet. My fingers stuck to the tripod. The digital thermometer I had brought with me gave a reading of -13ºC. No, you haven’t imagined that. Read it again. Minus thirteen degrees centigrade. On the south coast of England. Shoreham Airport weather station, located a few miles away, much nearer to the coast and less elevated, recorded -9.7ºC at 7 pm. The Chattri is 4.5 miles inland and elevated at 170 metres above sea level. On the way back, I waded through 50 cm snow drifts, which my body heat partially melted. I first noticed that I was wearing a pair of frozen trousers when I reached Church Hill in Patcham. The fabric was stiff and more like a pair of pipes than trouser legs!

I hope you like the pictures. I am very pleased with them, especially the first. As for the experience of being alone on the South Downs in deep snow at night, in temperatures of -13ºC, I will never forget it. I think I was in the early stages of hypothermia - I experienced euphoria, pains in my right arm and lost sensation in my feet - having stood around for nearly an hour. I think I deserved the curry and beer afterwards.

Night picture of the Chattri in December Snow


Friday 17th December 2010: Earlier in the day, at around 15:30, a snow shower tracked across the city, leaving an attractive dusting of snow. Once again, the time came to venture outside with my camera, in temperatures of -7ºC. I expect temperatures to be below -10ºC by the morning.

I noticed the speed camera on Kingsway, that Hove musician and resident, Nick Cave, had hit with his car on 7th December. He escaped unhurt. The speed camera is presumably in need of repair.

Speed camera hit by Nick Cave's car

Speed camera hit by Nick Cave's car

Travellers near King Alfred

Night Time Hove Beach Huts in Snow

Hove Beach Huts in Snow


Unknown said…

It was wonderful out here last night. People we happy, stangers smiling and chatting to each other. All I could hear were screams of laughter. I met a bunch of Eastern European young me who where throwing snowballs at the police car! Classic!.

All this was made possible because the snow. It was like Mother Nature saying "I am the boss and I'm telling you all to SLOW DOWN AND CHILL THE F**K OUT!

Going to head out for another snowy adventure today.

One Snowfall.
Many Possibilities.

Robbie said…
Really beautiful images, Alan, thanks for sharing them. x
Alan MacKenzie said…
I was delighted to chat with so many strangers. Usually, people in Brighton don't want to know. We need more snow! And I must get some booze! It's the only solution to this intense cold!
Andrew M said…
Sent to me as a Christmas greeting - a wonderful set of images, creative, evocative and beautiful. Congratulations. Andrew M
Alan MacKenzie said…
Thanks, Andrew. I hope you enjoyed looking at my pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. Please come back to my website, as I am out taking pictures whenever something interesting happens, which, in Brighton, is pretty often!
Suzanne Carr said…
These are amazing photos Alan, the snow and lights in some of the images make the photos look so painterly and somewhat surreal. And your portraits are breath taking - I definitely need to come and practice with you! Thanks for sharing the link
Alan MacKenzie said…
Thank you, Suzanne. I shall look forward to meeting you! Keep in touch.
Unknown said…
Wonderful photos, the Chattri looked beautiful, thank you
Alan MacKenzie said…
Hello Thelma, thank you for your comment of appreciation. Brighton may not look as good in December for a long time to come.

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