Introducing the Sports Stadium Brighton archive

Souvenir Brochure, opening of the Swimming Stadium, Brighton, 1934
Image scanned from the collection of Trevor Chepstow, Sports Stadium Brighton Archive

Trevor Chepstow introduces the Sports Stadium Brighton archive, his vast collection of memorabilia of the famous Brighton ice-rink. 

My interest in the Sports Stadium came to light in 1995 when a friend of mine asked about my days playing ice hockey at the S.S. Brighton. His sons were doing a project at Brighton College and he was interested to know if I had any photographs of those days that his boys could include in their project. I eventually found a couple he could copy and this set my mind working to find out if anyone had more photographs.

First appeal to the Evening Argus
A letter to the Evening Argus appealing to readers for information regarding the SS Brighton was rewarded with a letter from a lady reader. Her husband had originally been involved with the rink as a speed skater and had started to put together the history of the rink. Unfortunately he had passed away before he could get far into the project, but she kindly gave me all that he had collected to date and this led me to my current collection.

The letter to the Argus started a domino effect as one person after another led me to someone related to the rink. Eight years later this unique collection has grown to over four thousand photographs on all aspects of the rink and its many patrons and stars. Along the way I have been very lucky to meet many of the stars that appeared at the rink and have amassed many items of memorabilia from them in their heydays. Many of the stars I’ve met through my project were the same stars I sat in front of all those years ago as a young boy, when they performed in the many ice spectaculars at the rink.

The social hub of Brighton in its heyday
I hope this profile of my young days in a town that has changed beyond all recognition will bring back some memories to people who remember the SS Brighton. One lasting memory for people will be the famous Tigers, one of the greatest ice hockey teams in the country and Europe. Most people over the age of fifty would have had some connection with the SS Brighton, as it was the social hub of Brighton in its heyday.

I trust my collection will be a fitting epitaph to a sporting and entertainment venue that the City of Brighton is unlikely to see again. In due course my collection will be donated to the City for future generations to study and appreciate a bygone era and its social implications.

Comments about this page

  • My father, Roy Brookes, skated at the ice rink in Brighton in the 1950s and I am interested to know what archives exist for the old ice shows in the 1940/50s.

    By Nikki Wells (13/07/2004)
  • Most people met their future husband or wife either at the Regent Ballroom or the S.S. Brighton. In my case it was the S.S.Brighton – super place! More than I can say about the wife!

    By Ray Barontini (21/09/2005)
  • I was the call boy at the ice rink. I also worked the number 1 spotlight when the Russian president came and watched a show. I had two sercret service men with me as I was right behind him. My girlfreind at the time was Carol Ann Ball who went on to become Miss Brighton.

    By John Summerfield (03/10/2005)
  • John Summerfield – You may be interested to know the visiting President at the time you were at the rink was Georgio Malenkov and I believe the year was 1956. On his return to Russia he was succeeded by Nikolai Khrushchev. His personal invitation was from Tom Arnold, as directed by the British government, to try and bring Russia closer to the UK because of the Cold War at the time.

    By Trevor Chepstow (09/11/2005)
  • My mother’s cousin,Amy Andrews, played the piano in the American Bar at the Ice Rink in the 40’s. Her daughter Micheline learned to skate there and later starred in a number of Ice Shows.

    By Pauline Condlyffe (09/12/2006)
  • I skated at the sports stadium in 1942 and was in several amateur ice shows. If you were under 16 you could skate Sunday mornings for a shilling and stay and watch the ice hockey after. I met my husband there and we still skate, but at Chelmsford.

    By Doreen Newport (04/11/2007)
  • I have just found out that my grandfather was in the Canadian Army ice hockey team and skated at the Brighton rink. He was billeted somewhere on the south coast (he went over to France on D-Day.) If anyone has any info about the Canadian team / events etc I would love to hear from you.

    By Tracey Payne (10/02/2008)
  • My mother skated in the English Ice Follies in the 1950s. My Mother’s name was Jean Anne Guy who passed away this January 2008. If anyone recognises her name or knows of any magazine, names of ice rinks or anything to offer in my search I would appreciate it. She lived in Brighton and had newspaper articles, I remember as a small child, written about her.

    By Dawn Saraceno (23/06/2008)
  • My friends Keith Richardson, Colin Hiscox and I used to skate at the SS Brighton from 1950 to 1953 every Friday, Saturday (Tigers permitting) and Sunday nights – we never missed. Great memories from that time. If you could skate, it was a great way to pick up girls! Always remember the speed skating sessions and the ‘reverse’ skating sessions. Anybody else there at this time?

    By John Adams (26/01/2009)
  • Does anyone remember George (Bill) Turner? He did a lot of skating at Brighton, and was in ice shows. He is my cousin and I’d like to find him.

    By John Cording (01/02/2009)
  • Hi there. Does anyone remember the name of an ice show with a Russian female star called ‘Zenka’. The first scene was set around a Swiss style chalet. It would have been just after the war and the show was then taken to South Africa.

    By Andrew Bennett (13/12/2009)
  • On Sunday 30 December 1962, Brighton Tigers beat the Senators 15-3 but can anyone tell me who the Senators were?

    By David Wilkes (16/01/2010)
  • London Senators were an amalgamation of Richmoond Ambassadors and Streatham Royals. Both London based amateur teams whose rink owners had barred ice hockey.

    By Martin C. Harris (10/02/2010)
  • I was secretary to Mr Roston Bourke, and subsequently Benny Lee at the Sports Stadium. I have the most wonderful memories of skating in the amateur shows and subsequently meeting my husband when he was in Robinson Crusoe on Ice. We then went on tour with Tom Arnold’s ‘Coronation Ice Cavalcade’ with many other Brighton skaters. I have many happy memories of the Brighton Tigers and followed them to all their matches.

    By Pat Hannon (27/03/2010)
  • My relative, Clarice Payne, born in Brighton, was a good figure skater and took part in shows around 1930-40s. This might be the venue! I would be very interested to learn more and whether I can find records which mention her. I know she danced every week.

    By Glynice Smith (12/05/2010)
  • My parents, Vernon Marchant and Joyce nee Laws, met at the Ice Rink. They spent much of their courting time there. My dad took part in barrel jumping and speed skating, and also was a half of a pantomime horse. This would have been around the late 40s.

    By Sally Atkinson (Nee Marchant) (16/08/2010)
  • I am wondering whether the lady mentioned in the introduction might have been my mother. I believe she may have contacted someone at the Argus with some photos etc I know that she had a lot of memorabilia, but I’m not sure whether she handed any over. Her name was Joyce Marchant.

    By Sally Atkinson (Nee Marchant) (16/08/2010)
  • Can anyone tell me if the Skating Rink in Brighton in the 60s was on the ground floor of the Regent with the Ballroom above. Or were they two different venues but very near to each other. Was it near the Clock Tower and the Regent comes to mind. Also what was the street name they were in?

    By Tina Turpie Nee Culley) (11/09/2010)
  • A comment by Tracy Payne who said her grandfather was in the Canadian army – if he was in the Calgary Highlanders he was almost certainly billited in Florence Road. They used the scout hall at the rear of St Augustin’s church as a cook house and I recall a Canadian, billited at No 10, skated regularly before the fated Dieppe raid; not many returned from that raid. I hope this is of assistance to your request for information

    By Garry Lockwood (28/01/2011)
  • To Tina Turpie in reply to her comment in Sep 2010. Belated I know, but if you are still reading comments on this web site, The Skating Rink (originally SS Brighton) was at the lower (seafront) end of West Street which ran seawards from the Clocktower. The Regent Ballroom and Cinema was going the opposite way from the Clock Tower towards the station and was only a few yards up on the right hand side. There is a Boots store there now. 

    By John Snelling (27/11/2012)
  • Tina, The SS Brighton was where the new Oasis Hotel is built down West Street near the seafront, next to the cinema complex. I used to go there when I was at school. Then came the Top Rank Centre, in the mid-’60s, where you had to go upstairs above the dance hall; a strange place to put an ice rink, but quite successful. It was later closed and made into several cinemas, in the ’80s.

    By David Shelton (30/11/2012)
  • My great uncle, Len Baker, was a member of the Brighton Tigers ice hockey team. I have 4 team pictures of them taken on the ice. Sadly I am too young to have ever seen him play.

    By Caroline Hawkes (22/06/2013)
  • My uncle Geoffrey (Geoffe) Stevens started his career at the ice rink in the 20s and 30s with ice hockey. Together with Monty Stott and Sid Spaulding he formed a comedy on ice group called The Three Bruises. They skated in front of Queen Mary in London and travelled to the USA in 1939 with the show later performing for many years with Sonje Heine’s ice extravaganzas throughout the 40s and 50s.  One of the routines was “Tishy the wonder horse”. I skated as a teenager in Brighton in the 50s.  Geoffe’s brother, my Dad, was Lionel Stevens who was Assistant Manager at Brighton Hippodrome for some years. Happy days!

    By Brenda Stevens (02/05/2015)
  • My Auntie Phillis was the partner of an Australian trick cyclist that left Australia I think around late 1949/early 1950?  Before taking up entertainment as a trick cyclist he was a long distance cyclist in Australia, made all his own bicycles and held a world record for sitting completely still and stationary for more than 2.1/2 hours several times in several states of Australia in shop windows.  After road racing he was such a comedian he used to perform in parks in Sydney and its suburbs for free.  In England I know he performed at lots of venues with his bicycles and I did have a photo of him a long time ago that I can’t find and he was riding a unicycle down the street in Brighton as an advertisement for whatever upcoming ice pantomime or the like he was performing in.  He did similar advertising for shows he performed in in all the states of Australia before he left to live in England where he met my Auntie.  They had a beautiful little girl together who died, I think, possibly in her first year of birth.  Does anyone have any pictures of Banner Forbutt from the time he may have performed at Brighton?

    By Anne Spinks (04/08/2015)
  • My dad Pat Barry was the bar’s manager and was there for 30 years or so. He was a tall very smart man and often often used to stand on the landing near the door to the ice rink as people came in to skate. My mother Shirley Barry also used to work there as a barmaid.  Does anyone remember Pat or Shirley. I would love to hear.

    By Christine Barry (05/08/2017)
  • My father was the Manager of the SS when it was a swimming pool also after when it changed to the ice rink. My Grandfather was the Architect of the SS. Brighton .My father introduced the Brighton Tigers to the ice rink. MY fathers name was Robert Gordon Jackson and my Grandfather was Gordon Wallet Jackson.

    By Donald Robert Jackson (26/01/2018)
  • I’m trying to find out information about Anita Levy, she skated in the shows in the 1950’s, I believe as she had professional ice skater on her birth certificate also if anyone has heard of the name Robert Edouin as he was also a professional ice skater in the 1950’s. 

    By Emily Garratt (23/02/2018)
  • Regarding above post by my daughter, Anita Levy skated with the ice dance team probably from1947 up until 1954. Would love to hear from anyone who knew her and who her ice dance partner was. She lived in Hove with her family. As stated on my husband’s birth certificate she was a professional ice skater.

    By Sue Edouin (25/02/2018)
  • Does anyone remember Gladys M Wild or Hitchen, she was a barmaid at the SS Brighton around 1946, if anyone has a photo of Gladys or information I would appreciate it.

    By Susan Marshall (30/01/2020)
  • Regarding Gladys M Wild or Hitchen, I have since found a marriage certificate of Gladys and Thomas Renshaw Hitchen on the 2 December 1955 which states that she was a barmaid at the SS Brighton and living at Montpelier Street, Brighton. Two witnesses on the marriage certificate are Irene E Harby and Margaret Carter. Could they have been barmaids also? Gladys was married to Arthur Wild in 1946. Any photos or information would be greatly appreciated.

    By Susan Marshall (31/01/2020)
  • In 1958 the finals of the National Schoolboy Boxing Championships were held at the Stadium
    I was one of the winners from London Schools.

    By Michael Pye (27/06/2020)
  • In 1958 the National Schoolboy Boxing Championships were held at the Brighton SS.
    I was one of the winners from the London Schools.

    By Michael Pye (28/06/2020)
  • I have the SS Brighton bell, used at all the Brighton Tigers ice hockey matches which my dad won in a comp at their last ever match.

    By Darren welfare (01/12/2020)
  • Hi there…
    Is anyone still maintaining this page..?

    By Valerie Abraham (10/06/2021)
  • Hi Valerie, Yes we are.

    Comments Editor.

    By Tony Mould (10/06/2021)
  • My father William Williams (Bill) ran the ice rink sometime around the 1940s- 1950s ?
    He loved watching the ice hockey.
    As a child I had a photo wallet with SS Brighton on.
    He married while he was living in Brighton.
    Do you have any documents with his name on or photos ? Thank you.

    By Heather L Wilson (07/01/2022)
  • Used to go the the stadium on Saturday evenings for the wrestling and Sunday evenings for the ice hockey between 1960 and 1965. Remember seeing Alan Weeks walking around at times and if Benny Lee said good evening to you on the way in it was Wow Benny Lee spoke to me. Good memories of teenage years. Think the Tigers great rivals in those days were the Wembley Lions and the name George Beech seems to ring a bell. Remember they played the Rolling Stones This Could be the last time on the final game before it closed down. Used to see John Freemantle there who at the time was the evening Argus sports reporter, he then went on to be a very successful wrestling promoter. Remember three young ladies from those days Jill Martin, Linda Coleman, Jane Parker I was Bob and was living in Bexhill in those days so catching the train back after the shows meant plenty of late but happy nights. Good times to look back on.

    By Bob Creasy (10/02/2022)
  • Interesting that one of your contributors mentioned that they played the Rolling Stones. One of the many jobs I had in that wonderful place was to operate the record player during the public skating sessions They had the first Stones album there and then a lot of rather dull/dated LP,s So the Stones got played over and over until I was severely rebuked and taken off that rather cushy job for a while.
    Love reading this page, so many memories.

    By Barry Furlong (11/02/2022)
  • I’m writing a book about the history of skating in Brighton and would love to catch up with some of the previous commenters on this page. Some of the comments were many years ago so this is a long shot but if any of the following people are still following this site, I’d love to make contact. I can be reached at Comments and messages can also be left on Facebook page. Brighton and Hove: Skating Through Time.

    Pat Hannon
    Heather Wilson
    Brenda Stevens
    Donald Robert Jackson
    Sally Atkinson

    Thank you..!

    By Valerie Abraham (30/03/2022)
  • Does anyone know if the Brighton Ice Rink was ever known as the Crystal Palace around 1945 and did the Moscow Dynamos play Ice Hockey there?

    By Melvyn Harrison (08/02/2023)

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