Two Piers has 22 front doors, belonging to 4 renovated shared houses, 1 renovated house providing 7 self-contained flats and 1 new-build block of 11 flats. All the properties were completed by 1989. The accommodation is very good quality and is well maintained, as the member-tenants are in control of the repairs and maintenance programmes.
Major Close is one of the Co-op’s first houses, bought in 1981. A former Local Authority children’s home, located in an estate in Hollingdean on the outskirts of Brighton, it is ten minutes walk from Hollingbury Hill Fort. Major Close is a two storey shared house, with eight bedrooms, two bathrooms, a shower room and extra toilet, for six single people and a single parent and child. There’s a big living room and spacious kitchen with two cookers, one for vegetarian, one for meat eaters. A cleaning rota keeps the place tidy and the residents happy. The garden is huge and undergoing a transformation to include swings, a fire pit, fruit bushes, terraced veg beds, etc. We currently have a dog in residence. The residents eat and meet together once a month to discuss the well being of the household. Smokers smoke outside the house.
Margaret Street, off St. James’s Street in Kemptown, was also bought in 1981. Two minutes from the beach, close to The Pier, it is a typical tall Victorian terrace, with a “little walled back yardy”. On four floors, with recently refurbished kitchen and living room in the basement, six bedrooms, two bathrooms and two toilets. This is a vegetarian shared house whose members are currently involved in environmental issues. To keep the house clean and tidy, each resident takes on a communal room. Smoking is kept outside. There are no pets currently but would be considered.
The Nook on Lovers Walk was acquired in 1984. Originally squatted, the residents approached Two Piers Co-op in 1982 to explore buying it, and they then became licensed members of the co-op. An old rectory, next to Preston Park, it is a two storey double fronted shared house with six bedrooms, two bathrooms and a spacious, open plan kitchen living room. The house has a medium sized north facing garden with lots of trees and railway arches, used for art projects by the tenants. There are no children there at the moment, and no pets but this up for discussion. The house has a cleaning rota and no smoking is permitted inside. The Nook is known for its regular shared meals.
Oriental Place was also squatted and the residents became licensees of the Co-op in 1984. A minute from the beach near the old West Pier, this shared house is a huge Victorian terrace on five floors, with eight bedrooms, one bathroom and two shower rooms, and a utility room in the basement. The large kitchen in the basement and the small second floor kitchen have been recently renewed. There is a small well cared for garden.
Eastern Road in Kemptown was bought in 1987, and has seven self-contained flats for single people and families. There are three one-bed, three two-bed and one three bed flats, on three floors. Close to the sea, Kemptown ‘village’ shops, park, Gala Bingo, the hospital, Eastern Rd has everything to offer! There is a small shared walled garden with a bike shed and compost bin, and the fire escape leads down into the garden. Described as a “co-operative, friendly, but private” house, the tenants “muddle along” and take turns to clean the shared areas. See the History section for more history.
Christchurch is very central, close to Western Rd shops, pubs, coffee houses, etc. When the church was demolished, some members helped to clear the site of debris and watched as huge steel beams were erected to give temporary support to the adjacent buildings. The build started in 1985, and tenants moved in on the Bedford Place side in March 1987. Unfortunately the builders went bankrupt during the build, so the completion of the Montpelier side was delayed until January 1988.
Christchurch is of some historical interest, being used by Alistair Crowley in pursuit of his unusual beliefs. Ghosts have been suspected, lay lines traced, advicd sought from dowsers, light bulbs inexplicably pop, electrical equipment switches on and off… but many co-op parties have thwarted whatever these phenomena may be!
There are eleven flats in two blocks facing each other across a small paved garden, which boasts a fishpond and lovely pergola. Christchurch was designed by Michael Blee, who closely followed the Co-op’s brief of providing a highly communal building, basing his ideas on rural villages in India and Mexico. There are four two-bed family flats and a wheelchair accessible flat on the ground floor, where the laundry is situated. Three four-bed, two six-bed and one five bed flat are on the upper floors. There is a ‘gazebo’ in the garden, used for meetings, band practice, children’s parties, meditation, and which currently houses the Co-op’s archives and library. The flats are numbered 1 – 5 on the Bedford Place side, and 1a – 6a on the Montpelier side. Christchurch is abbreviated to CX.
For example, at the top of the building, flat 6aCX has six tenants, a big open plan kitchen/living room, a lounge, and two bathrooms. The living room is graced with an enormous cheese plant, which once actually bore fruit! There are glimpses of the sea from the balconies, and peregrine falcon nesting boxes can be viewed from the living room. The atmosphere of the flat was described by one tenant as “78% nitrogen, 20% oxygen… argon, trace gases and water vapour…” In spite of this, meals are shared, cleaning is done by rota, and smoking in permitted out of the window.
Christchurch Pet Policy: After some problems with cats and dogs, they are not allowed to be kept, unless consent from a Tenants’ Meeting is given.