In 1873, this site at 133-134 Kings Road is listed as ‘Mrs H. Slater’s Lodging House’. The New Club was built in 1876, a private members’ club for ‘gentlemen and ladies of an approved social position’.
According to the club’s book of laws and by-laws, if you went bankrupt, your membership would be automatically revoked, if you fell ill, you had to vacate your room, bedrooms were reserved only for ‘gentleman members’, and you were not allowed to tip or engage the servants.
Club members included Sir John Cordy Burrows MP, eminent surgeon and former mayor. On his advice the Health of Towns Act was adopted. And Dr William Kebbell, who said in 1848 ‘In no town in the kingdom do the extremes of cleanliness and squalor exist more than in Brighton’. He set up the charitable trust responsible for building the Modal Dwellings on Jew Street in 1852 to house the poor.
The New Club was demolished in around 1938 to make way for the current Art Deco style building, Astra House. The 61 flats above were originally designed as holiday homes for the RAF, hence the name, but were never used for this purpose, and were sold off to wealthy Londoners.
Fox & Sons estate agents occupied the premises during WWII, and Wright’s Bazaar (fancy goods), two cafes, the Chandelier and Astra cafe, and restaurant ‘Chez Antoine’. Since 1975 it has been an antiques shop, betting office, fine art showroom, hairdresser and surf shop, until it was taken over by China Garden restaurant in 1989. We started renovating the premises in August 2012 and opened in March 2013.
Inadvertently, Astra House has appeared in many films over the years, including ‘The Night we got the Bird’ (1961) ‘Loot’ (1970) and ‘Carry on Girls’ (1973)