Ice Skating Champions

John and Jenny Nicks at the Sports Stadium Brighton
Photo from private collection of Trevor Chepstow

John Allen Wisden Nicks:
Local ice skating champion John Nicks was born on 22nd April 1929 and started his career at the Sports Stadium, Brighton under the instruction of Eric W. Hudson and later Gladys M. Hogg MBE.

His parents were well known Sussex track athletes
John and his sister Jenny Nicks were the children of Jack and Elsie Nicks, who were well known Sussex track athletes. Jack was the great-nephew of the pioneer 19th Century cricketer John Wisden, who gave his name to the famous “Wisden’s” Cricket Annual. For many years Jack & Elsie ran the sports shop, Wisdens in Duke Street Brighton.

Army service in 1948-50
After passing his NSA tests (Inter-Gold Figures, Gold Pair, Bronze Dance) John joined up for National Service in 1948-50 as a private in the Royal Sussex Regiment and later the Royal Middlesex Regiment, with whom he went on to serve in Hong Kong.

John and Jenny won many championships
John and his sister Jenny, Brighton’s best known amateur skaters, first turned professional in July 1953 in France and they went on to win many ice skating championships together throughout their long and distinguished careers world-wide.

Settled in Los Angeles
John finally settled in Los Angeles in 1961 where his is now (2004) one of the world’s leading trainers, his pupils have included many of the world’s top champions, including Peggy Fleming, Randolph Gardner and recently Sasha Cohen.

Jennifer Mary Nicks:
Born 13th April 1932, died August 21st 1980

John and Jennifer both shared the same love of ice skating and coming from a sporting family allowed them to turn their sporting inclinations into becoming one of the most successful pairs skating champions of the time.

An instructor before turning professional
Jenny followed the same course as John by passing her NSA qualifications at the Sports Stadium (Gold Figures, Gold Pair and Bronze Dance) and was fortunate enough to be taught by John’s tutors Eric Hudson and later Gladys Hogg. Jenny was a popular instructor with patrons at the Sports Stadium in the early part of her career before turning professional in 1953.

One of the best known ice skating couples
Like her brother she appeared in many ice shows world-wide and was British Professional Lady Champion in 1955 and 1956 and third in the British Junior Ladies Championships in 1947. Jenny will be best be remembered for the time she paired with her bother John to become one of the best known skating couples in Brighton and the world.

Jenny passed away in 1980 of a heart attack at the age of forty-eight.

Career History:

John Nicks:
British Junior Men’s Champion 1947. (Runner-up the previous year 1946.)

John & Jennifer Nicks, Pairs ice-skating:
– World Champions 1953.
– European Champions 1953.
– British Champions 1947. 1948. 1949. 1950. March 1952. December 1952.
– British Southern Counties Champions 1952.

Other Placings:
– 1946- British 3rd.
– 1947-European 6th.
– 1948-European 5th. Olympics 8th. World 8th.
– 1949-European 6th. World 6th.
– 1950-European 3rd. World 2nd.
– 1951-European 3rd. World 3rd.
– 1952-European 2nd. Olympics 4th. World 3rd.

Comments about this page

  • I had often wondered if the John Nicks who was coach to so many ice skating chmapions was the same one I had seen with his sister at the Queens Ice Dance Club during the war years. Now I see it was indeed the same and my congratulations to him.

    By Irene Hyland (19/01/2006)
  • The site fails to mention that John and Jenny not only starred in ice shows in South Africa during the middle to late 50s, but were also top instructors. It is with some pride these days that I remember being taught by John and Jenny in Durban, South Africa, in those days. John married a South African (I think her name was Louise?) before leaving for the States. Before that, John teamed up with Marjorie Chase (an English show skater) and produced the finest ice shows in South Africa. In the States, John was at one stage associated with the Ice Capades chalets and taught at one in particular, which was in Santa Monica (if I recall either on Santa Monica or Sunset boulevard). He also taught at the Ice Capades chalet at Costa Mesa, California. I find it incredible that this man is still a top coach – a tribute to his skill, talent, knowledge and perserverence.

    By Terence Meyer (12/02/2006)
  • I was at school with you and used to watch you practising on Saturday morning at the SS Brighton. The last time I saw you, you were homeward bound from South Africa on a Castle Liner – I was a steward then. We are the same age. Long may you continue.

    By Richard Stubbs (02/03/2006)
  • John married Denise Nicholls, who is from South Africa.

    By Carolyn Nicks (04/03/2007)
  • I remember Jenny with great fondness. She was my coach in Tsawwassen, British Columbia. She was an amazing lady who was a treasure to our community.
    Still thought of and always missed!

    By Shannon Kewley (11/01/2008)
  • I too was coached by John Nicks and the Johannesburg ice rink in the mid -1950’s. My father owned the Savoy Hotel and John Nicks stayed there alaong the Marjorie Chase and other skaters in the touring shows. I was a silver medalist in the 1956 or 1957 SA Senior championships losing out to my best friend Louise Dahl. I left SA in 1958, married an American in 1960 and now live in South Carolina. My maiden name was Barbara Hertz. Other SA friends from that time were Corinne van Heerden, Yvonne Upcott, Andre Erlank, and many others whose names escape me.

    By Barbara Hertz Brackett (03/01/2010)
  • I was thrilled to read Barbara Hertz Brackett’s post as I was a friend of hers. I was a junior cast member of Christmas Ice Review, the show which was produced by John Nicks and Marjorie Chase to open the Durban Ice Rink in December, 1955. The whole cast travelled from Johannesburg to Durban for the show which had a two week season as far as I can remember. It was a wonderful experience! My father had a well-known Manchester business in Johannesburg called “Morrison’s” and was a prominent horse-racing identity at the time. I recognize all the names mentioned by Barbara and there are many more who are fondly remembered. I married in Durban and left South Africa for Australia in the early 1970’s where I live in New South Wales. My husband passed away in 2010. June Morrison Bishop

    By June Morrison Bishop (13/10/2012)
  • I skated in Durban under Paddy Hawks and remember seeing John and Jennifer Nicks at that rink often.  I moved to the USA in 1961 and have enjoyed seeing Mr. Nicks and his students on TV ever since.

    By Clare Healey Crawford (17/02/2014)
  • Those of you who commented above will be interested to know that John Nicks, now 92 years-old, is alive and well in California. I spoke to him last week as part of my research for a book about the history of skating in Brighton. He’s amazing..! He still does coaching clinics and runs 3 miles several times a week. He celebrated his last birthday by running a 5k.

    If anyone has interesting stories about Mr. Nicks (as everyone still calls him), or anything else Brighton skating related, please feel free to email me at

    By Valerie Abraham (10/10/2021)

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