An ice skating spectacular, 1936

Red McCarthy, dressed as King Bat, in ice skating spectacular at S.S. Brighton, 1936
Image scanned from the collection of Trevor Chepstow, Sports Stadium Brighton Archive

In the summer of 1936, an ice skating spectacular was presented at the S.S. Brighton. It was to be called “Marina” and was the brainchild of Claude Langdon, then managing director and Denis Mitchell, the general manager. This new spectacular was an instant success and caught the imagination of the public.

A King Bat in silver paint
One of the funniest acts, was performed by a Irish-Canadian gentleman called Red McCarthy. Billed as the world champion of barrel jumping, Red McCarthy would tear round the ice rink, frightening the life out the audience, whilst dressed as a King Bat and covered from head to toe in silver paint. The paint was compiled of powdered glass and silver nitrate, which under the lights produced an amazing glittering effect, thus emulating all the colours of the rainbow with startling results. It took him one hour to put on his make up and as long to take it off, the removal necessitating a steam bath and powerful sprays.

Comments about this page

  • That is a picture of my grandfather. My mother was raised in England, in Wembley and emigrated to the US during the Second World War. Please let me know if you have any other pictures.

    By Deborah Sooy (17/08/2005)
  • Deborah Sooy. If you contact me on I’ll send you more photos of your grandfather.

    By Trevor Chepstow (11/09/2005)
  • We have a brochure of Wildfire from the 50s by Claude Langdon. It was an ice show.

    By Richard Hearne Society (17/10/2005)
  • I was at that show. A few years later Sheila Hamilton performed barrel jumping, painted silver, also Ken (Bailey or Bates)? I used to skate there regularly and that changed my life. We had speed skating for the Men, Ladies and also Pair skating. For 6d you could ice dance with a pro, and for a while I tried Figure Skating lessons until my partner encouraged me to try changing to hockey skates. John Tree patrolled the ice and around the seating areas. His partner on the ice was Mary? We skated all year round and in the summer it was best not to fall down or you got a soaker! I am really enjoying roaming around my old haunts on your site Thank you from Canada.

    By Rita Buckrell (08/02/2008)
  • Red (Marion) was my great uncle. Any information or contact info for relatives would be appreciated.

    By Shane Mccarthy (13/02/2010)
  • Please send me any information about Red or his relatives to  Thanks!

    By Shane McCarthy (15/02/2010)
  • I knew Ken Bailey as a swimmer and President of the British Long Distance Swimming Association. Do you have any other information about his speed skating and ice hockey activities?

    By Chris Carter (18/02/2010)
  • He is my great grandfather and I’ll never forget him teaching me to ice skate when I was very young. So neat to find pictures like this online!

    By Andrea Tobin (08/07/2014)
  • Claude Langdon was my grandfather. Any info or pics please 

    By Mark Miller (06/06/2016)
  • My mum skated in the show ‘Marina’ and a few others including ‘Switzerland’.  She married a male skater Ron Priestley who later went on to build skating rinks world wide.

    By Jan Finnis (11/03/2017)
  • My brother and I were page boys at the wedding of Ken Bailey and Betty English. I’m sure I have some photos somewhere of us in our very embarrassing white silk suits.


    By David Philip Howells (26/03/2018)

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