Remembrance over Brighton

The fallen were remembered on Armistice Day during a ceremony held some 138 metres above Brighton at the top of the British Airways i360 observation tower.

I was on board to witness youth and tradition combining in futuristic surroundings, whilst glancing at the city and the wreck of the West Pier below.

We were also high above the Boer War Memorial, which was built to commemorate members of the Royal Sussex Regiment who died in South Africa between 1900 and 1902.

Settlers of Dutch origin objected to British administration and the establishment of equal rights for blacks and whites. The Afrikaners attempted to form their own breakaway state, but the rebellion was crushed after reinforcements were sent in - and after many civilian farmers, including women and children, had died in concentration camps.

Descendants of the British soldiers who perished in South Africa may have been present at the i360, among the detachment of 45 cadets from the Sussex Army Cadet Force. They stood to attention as the Last Post was played to mark the 11th hour.

It was somewhat surreal: a solemn occasion taking place inside what looked like a hovering spaceship.

There was some local hostility about the annual commemorations, I discovered. I already knew there had been substantial opposition to the building of the tower itself, which was designed by Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye.


Also in attendance was Paul Hull, who retired from the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Unit in 1985 after seven years of service. He confided about feeling somewhat nervous about hovering in mid-air, in spite his experience of jumping out of Army helicopters.

He spoke glowingly about his home town. Paul was inspired to join the Army after meeting Captain Ken Revis, who signed up the Royal Engineers at the outbreak of the Second World War and went on to defuse hundreds of bombs along the South Coast.

The career of Captain Revis ended while he was "delousing" the West Pier of mines. With the aid of a map and a rowing boat, he successfully defused six of them, but 13 others suddenly exploded.

He survived, however, and, though left blind by the injuries he received, went on to qualify as a solicitor. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 84.