Skating with friends

SS Brighton
From the private collection of the late Trevor Chepstow

Where did the name come from?

In my early to mid teens, me and some friends decided to investigate the ice skating rink at the bottom of West Street, called the SS Brighton. I am not sure I ever found out why it was called that. Ice skating, and perhaps the fact that I was getting a bit older, proved to be much easier than roller skating. First, you were given a pair of proper ice skating boots and second, there is considerably more friction involved in skating over ice. 

Did you ever go ice-skating at SS Brighton? Share your memories by posting below

Spectacular falls

Every hour or so, an odd machine was driven around the rink to clear off the ice crystals on top of rink. The rejuvenated ice was much quicker to skate on after this procedure. We fairly soon got the hang of ice skating and two of us learned to speed skate. Again, every hour or so, everyone who could not speed skate was ordered off the ice and we did rapid circuits of the rink. Falls were spectacular but never, as I remembered damaging. You simply slid down the ice. I had a slight worry about whether or not anyone ever had their fingers skated over. I did once try roller skating, but it is ice skating, every time, for me.

Comments about this page

  • From the photo attached to my piece, it is clear that the ‘SS Brighton’ was the ‘Sports Stadium, Brighton’.  I had always thought there was some sort of nautical reference in the name. It is good to have that cleared up!

    By Philip Burnard (26/06/2015)
  • Hello cousin! I always thought that the SS was simply an abbreviation for Sports Stadium.

    My sister actually had her fingers skated over by a friend, but there was no lasting damage.

    Regards, Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (26/06/2015)
  • Hello, Alan, good to see you again!  From what I can make out, the ‘nautical’ theme (SS Brighton) was introduced when the building was first built and was in the Art Deco style. The ‘liner’ look of the building thus prompted the name. 

    By Philip Burnard (26/06/2015)
  • Hello Philip. Good to see you too! According to Trevor Chepstow, who has submitted several articles on this subject to the MyB&H website, SS Brighton was a contraction of Swimming Stadium Brighton, and the opening ceremony on 29 June 1934 did have a nautical theme. It was converted from a swimming pool in 1935, and reborn as an ice stadium on 16 October that year. The clever change of name (to Sports Stadium Brighton) still retained the old SS Brighton image. I used to go ice-skating there myself, but cannot remember ever thinking it looked like a liner. The design was obviously lost on me! Regards, Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (29/06/2015)
  • I have many lovely memories of the old ice rink in the 1950s. We used to go to the Christmas shows – ‘Rose Marie on Ice’ is one that stays in my mind. When I was about 8/9 years old I was allowed to go skating with my friend Janet; her lovely Mum made us both skating skirts, mine was orange lined with white taffeta and we would twirl around with more enthusiasm than skill but it was great fun. After a few laps, carefully keeping near the edge to grab the barrier if needed, we would hop off, being sure to put our skate guards on and wobble along to the little coffee bar at the rear for a cheese roll and hot blackcurrant drink. After a few sessions, when we were sure that we would like it, I remember having my first pair of new white leather ice skates purchased from Wisdons in Duke St. It was lovely not to have queue up to use the brown hired ones any more. Like countless others, I did have a few falls, still have a small scar more than 60 years later where someone skated over my leg, must admit that I was more worried about getting blood all over the white taffeta lining of my skirt than the actual injury. In the early 1960s I still used to skate occasionally with friends from work (AA)  Also, we would go to watch the wrestling. It was the era of Jackie Pallow, Mick McManus, Giant Haystacks and Sky High Lee to name but a few. It was so ‘staged’ and predictable but entertaining nevertheless. As teenagers we would laugh at the antics of the ‘old’ ladies (now my age) sitting right down in the front near the ring, shouting and screaming at the ‘baddies’. I used to take my children skating in 1970s/early 80s at the little rink in Queens Sq. near the clock tower but it was not the same. I now take my Grandchildren to the temporary rink at the Pavilion which is great fun but we need a permanent ice rink in Brighton once more. Promises, promises!! 

    By Elaine Chamberlain (30/06/2015)
  • Hi, my mum Sheila Canton skated there when she left school from about 1937 until 1939 when she went on tour to South Africa, Australia and NZ. She married one of the lead skaters at the time – Ronnie Priestley.

    By Jan Finnis (29/11/2015)
  • I don’t think Eileen Chamberlin could have seen Giant Haystacks at S.S. as he came onto the wrestling scene long after 1965. I went to the last wrestling night held at S.S., top of the bill was Tibor Szackaks vs Peter Mavia. Also Jacki Palo vs Lindy Caulder. I was first in the queue and Benny Lee took me in for free. Lovely man.

    By P. Smith (18/11/2016)
  • Now I am really curious if this was the skating rink my mother used to go to. Jean Anne Guy was born Nov 1932 in Brighton. She mentioned going to a pond to skate and then later a rink and I have pictures of her but I was told that rink was torn down in Brighton. She left at age 18 to become a professional ice-skater and joined many productions that traveled throughout Europe in Austria and Germany. I have all her skating pictures and programs with other skaters listed in case someone else has family that may have also joined.

    By Diane Whitney (21/04/2020)
  • I think I was about 10 when I first started skating at the Sports Stadium in West Street, Brighton. At this time I went to the Saturday afternoon session having been invited by 2 friends (sisters) who lived opposite me in Stanford Avenue, Brighton, these being Jackie and Penny Betteridge. Like so many other contributors to this topic I started off by wearing the rather awful hired brown skating boots that always seemed to feel very weird and perhaps a touch blunt! Once I knew this was an activity I wanted to continue I started saving pocket money, birthday and Christmas money so that I could get my own skates. These were actually rather expensive, even around 1960, but once I’d got half the amount my parents contributed the rest. At this time skating boots were much higher than they are now with ladies boots stopping just below the calf of the leg. It was great to have my own skates and not to have to queue to hire the ones supplied by the ice rink. Everyone would need to get off the ice a couple of times during the Saturday afternoon session. This was to allow a big machine to come onto the ice to clean up the surface, once this was done this was the very best best time to get on the ice as it was then very smooth and a little more wet. We also had to come off the ice for about 15 minutes or so to allow some of the ice dancers to have their turn and they would have some fancy moves that I rather wished I could do. When this was happening I’d go to the small cafe and get a lovely hot blackcurrant drink and a snack of some sort. I saw a lot of wonderful ice shows at the Sports Stadium which had a big seating area. When it closed down I did then later go to the other rink at Kingswest, it wasn’t the same but at least it was somewhere to skate. I always really loved skating, it was an activity you could do without any problem on your own, with some friends or as a family.

    With this website which I really like, there are so many topics, items and comments that are very interesting and often very funny to read. I find I’m being taken back to my happy childhood many times and am enjoying taking some leisurely walks down ‘Memory Lane’ so thank you very much for that.

    By Carolyn Jones (29/09/2023)

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