Ice skating in Brighton

Advertisement for the SS Brighton ice rink, 1936
Advertisement for the SS Brighton ice rink, 1936

With the opening of the ice rink at the Royal Pavilion in November, it may come as a surprise to many to learn that the first ice rink in Brighton opened in 1897.

The rink was in Middle Street but its popularity was short-lived. It was converted into the Hippodrome variety theatre in 1901.

Brightonians had to wait until October 1935 to don their ice skates again, when the S.S. Brighton swimming pool in West Street was converted into an ice rink.  Not only could the public skate here, but it also became the home of the ‘Tigers’, a predominately Canadian ice hockey team who played their first match on 4 October 1935.  4,000 spectators filled the arena and the ‘Tigers’, in their distinctive black and yellow kit, won the match.  More about the S. S. Brighton and the ‘Tigers’ can be found on the My Brighton and Hove website, www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk

S.S. Brighton also hosted lavish ice skating revues notably in the 1930s and 1950s when the glamorous Californian skating star Gloria Nord appeared.  Local skaters also featured, including Jeanette Raphael and Sheila Hamilton.

In 1965, Top Rank opened their new ice rink on the corner of West Street and King’s Road and the ‘Tigers’ played their last match in May 1965. The S.S. Brighton closed shortly after and demolition began at the end of the year.  By 1972, the new rink had also closed, replaced by a smaller rink in Queen Square run by former S.S. Brighton skater, Valerie Moon.

Various plans have been mooted over the years for the creation of a new permanent ice rink in Brighton, but none have yet materialised.  The rink at the Royal Pavilion is open from 13 November until 16 January 2011.

Further details about the Royal Pavilion ice-rink can be found at www.royalpavilionicerink.co.uk

Paul Jordan, Senior History Centre Officer

4 Responses

  1. Rosemary Smith

    I remember skating at the Brighton ice rink. I learnt to skate with the Brighton Tigers as my brother used to clear the ice. Many a happy skating lesson, when I was about 9-to early teens .
    I used to love watching the tigers as well.
    It would be great to have another ice rink .

  2. Robert Graham Mileman

    I lived in Withdean and worked during early 1970’s at the Brighton Top Rank ice rink whilst was completing Patcham Fawcett school final years studying before going onto college. Learnt to ice skate and spent many happy hours being trained at free skating also absolutely loved every Sunday morning that I spent ice dancing with a really lovely beautiful girl called Jenny Marsden from Seaford. Life was never the same when this Ice Rink closed and especially at loosing contact with Jenny who I really like a lot plus have kept her photo in my wallet for last fifty years.

  3. Jacqueline Harbord

    I won the Junior Amateur Championships in 1958 at SS Brighton, it was a wonderful old rink. Full of character. The shows were legendary, and when I turned professional I rehearsed Peter Pan on ice there. A real shame Brighton has no permanent ice rink, a host of great skaters and show skaters came out of the Brighton Ice Rink.
    Jacquie Harbord. British Champion 1962 World Professional Champion 1963/4.

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