The school was opened on 18 July 1859 under the title of the Brighton Proprietary Grammar and Commercial School for the Sons of Tradesmen. The proprietors (list in R/C 63/1) each had a share in the school and were entitled to take up places there. The education given had a Protestant bias and the first headmaster was the Rev John Griffiths, formerly of Brighton College.
The school was first established in Lancaster House, 47 Grand Parade. It was held initially on an eight-year lease at £120 per annum from Samuel King of 27 Edwards Street, Portman Square, London gent commencing 25 March 1859, and subsequently from 24 June 1867 on a one-year lease at £150 per annum from Stephen Nicholson Barber of Denmark Hill, Camberwell in Surrey, esq (formerly of 7 Cowpers Court, Cornhill in London, stockbroker).
In September 1867 a joint stock company was formed with a capital of £2000 to purchase new premises. On the expiry of the lease the school moved to 80 Buckingham Road on 27 May 1868. Ownership of the £10 shares carried the right to nominate pupils to the school, which was from March 1873 known as the Brighton Grammar School Limited.
In 1900 the school purchased 12 Buckingham Road for use as the site of the Lower School, and in 1902 fifteen acres of land at Withdean for sporting facilities. The latter was sold in 1917.
Under the terms of the Education Act 1902 the Board of Education was unable to give grants to schools constituted as limited liability companies. It was therefore necessary for the Brighton Grammar School Limited to be voluntarily wound up and its assets transferred to a trust, which took place on 15 October 1906. The governing body was constituted from the directors of the former company and representatives from the East Sussex County Council, Brighton County Borough and Hove Borough Councils.
The school, however, failed to prosper financially and by 1910 was in liquidation. On 27 August 1910 the school site was purchased by the local education authorities that had already provided the governing body from 1906.
A new site for the school was purchased on 15 January 1912 from the Goldsmid Estate for £4000. The site lay at the junction of Old Shoreham Road and Dyke Road, and the three authorities entered into agreements for the school's government. Brighton County Borough was the principal authority and took on the administrative and legal work of running the school.
The new school was designed by S B Russell and cost £25000 to build; the foundation stone was laid on 13 June 1912 and the move to the new site took place on 17 September 1913 (ESC 214/24/2-60). The school was then known as the Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School. The Grammar School was abolished in 1975 and the site used by newly formed Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College.