Revd Arthur Wagner is remembered for his work with the poor of Brighton. Hanover was one of the poorest districts, and among Wagner’s projects here was a school for boys. He opened St Mary’s Boys School in 1865 with 21 boys and moved it to 33 Southover Street in 1872. The letters ‘SM’ can still be seen carved over our front entrance.
It was known as St Paul’s School when the Annunciation was served by curates from St. Paul’s church. It became the Annunciation School in about 1900, the Brighton Corporation’s Handicraft School in 1924, the Southover Street Canteen – or soup kitchen as it was known in the 1930s. After the war Brighton Corporation Education Department used it as a store for anything from desks to coal.
In 1975 negotiations started with the council to convert it into a community centre for Hanover. In early 1976 the council approved funding of £15,000 towards renovating the building and £3,500 for the first year’s running costs. An enormous amount of effort and a great many hours of unpaid work was volunteered by local residents and businesses who did the renovation work themselves, including all the carpentry, plastering and plumbing.
As part of this effort, the Hanover Community Association was formed in 1976 to improve the quality of life for the residents of Hanover and to manage the new Hanover Community Centre.
Dame Flora Robson officially opened the centre on 3rd June 1977 as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations.
(With thanks to ‘Hilly Laine to Hanover’ 2008 Edition)