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Brighton Sewer Tours
Published on Thursday, 08 April 2010

You’ll need to move quickly if you want to book this one: voted the leading tourist attraction in the whole of Brighton and Hove, it’s always one of the first sell-outs of the Fringe.  It’s unique; it’s magnificent; we gave it five stars in 2009.  And yes – it really is a hike through a sewer.

Engineers in sewer

Far from a sanitized “experience”, this educational walking tour runs through the vast tanks and pipes under Brighton’s seafront, ending with a torchlit foray along the main storm drain and a climb through a manhole onto Old Steine.  The tour guides are a small army of real Southern Water engineers, whose enthusiastic patter focuses on the system's practical curiosities: the natural spring water which seeps through the walls, the sea-borne barnacles which stud the tunnel roof.

For the technically-minded there's a chance to appreciate the Victorian engineering, and enjoy the elegant splendour of the century-old design; for many, though, this is simply the kind of experience money can rarely buy.  Yes, it does smell a bit – of damp as much as anything else – and we realise it won’t be for everyone.  But if you're at all tempted, don that hard hat and grab the chance while you can.

This slightly adventurous tour requires an average level of mobility.  Many of the passages are low and narrow, and if you’re afraid of heights you may also find some short stretches challenging.  There is one ladder to climb at the very end, but it's possible on request to avoid this by returning the way you came.  Don't let these warnings put you off this unique experience; our reviewer found the tour guides exemplary in their assistance and understanding.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.