HISTORY In June 1514 Brighthelmstone was burnt to the ground by French raiders during a war between England and France. In the Domesday Book, Brighton was called Bristelmestune The arrival of the London and Brighton Railway in 1841 brought Brighton within the reach of day-trippers from London and population growth from around 7,000 in 1801 to over 120,000 by 1901. Many of the major attractions were built during the Victorian era such as the Grand Hotel (1864), the West Pier (1866) and the Palace Pier (1899).
Created in 1883, Volk's Electric Railway runs along the inland edge of the beach from Brighton Pier to Black Rock and Brighton Marina. It is the world's oldest operating The Royal Pavilion is a former royal palace built as a home for the Prince Regent during the early 19th century, under the direction of the architect John Nash, and is notable for its Indo-Saracenic architecture and Oriental interior.
The seafront has bars, restaurants, nightclubs and amusement arcades, principally between the piers. Being less than an hour from London by train has made the city a popular destination, especially with big party groups. Brighton beach has a nudist area (by Kemptown near the easterly edge of the promenade). Brighton's beach, is a shingle beach at high tide with a flat sandy foreshore at low water, and has been awarded a blue flag. The Monarch's Way long-distance footpath heads west along the seafront above the beach.
CULTURE Each May the city hosts the Brighton Festival, the second largest arts festival in the UK (after Edinburgh). This includes processions such as the Children's Parade, outdoor spectaculars often involving pyrotechnics, and theatre, music and visual arts in venues throughout the city, some brought into this use exclusively for the festival.
Brighton museums include Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton Toy and Model Museum, and Brighton Fishing Museum the long established social epicentre of the seafront, which includes artefacts from the West Pier. The Royal Pavilion is also open to the public, serving as a museum to the British Regency.
Theatres include the Brighton Dome and associated Pavilion Theatre, the expanded Komedia (primarily a comedy and music venue but also a theatre), The Old Market which was renovated and re-opened in 2010, and the Theatre Royal which celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2007. There are also smaller theatres such as the Marlborough Theatre and Nightingale Theatre, both above pubs, which attract mostly local productions, and the Brighton Little Theatre.
ECONOMY Brighton has a high density of businesses involved in media, particularly digital or "new media", and since the 1990s has been referred to as "Silicon Beach".
POLITICS Brighton and Hove is part of three constituencies in the British Parliament: Brighton Kemptown, Brighton Pavilion, and Hove. These three seats are all marginal constituencies. They were held by Labour from 1997 to 2010.