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