A potted history

King's Road Arches | From a private collection
King's Road Arches
From a private collection

King’s Road was much narrower in 1886, when it was widened, than it is today. The road, which was finally surfaced with tarmac in 1910, extended over existing arches on the Lower Esplanade. The Arches ran under the street and were big enough to house large fishing boats.

The Arches run from the Hove Boundary (No.1) to the Palace Pier (No.256) and beyond to the Peter Pan playground. A subway from West Street exits next to the round public shelter arch No.151 which opened in 1887.

Various services and entertainments can be found in many of the arches between the piers. These include amusement halls, bars and night clubs. The council seafront office can be found at arch N0.141 and arch No.150 houses the first aid station.

Comments about this page

  • I don’t think it has changed a lot from what I can see but it does look very unusual as I haven’t seen it in those days but it is very interesting.

    By Kayleigh (30/11/2005)
  • The smaller arches (from No.1 on the Hove boundary running eastwards) could be leased annually by Brighton ratepayers and used in the summer (winter as well if you liked) as ‘beach huts’. The bigger and swankier of these private ones were just to the west of the West Pier and the smaller ones to the east.  Many were equipped with electricity, water and drainage however you were not supposed to stay in them overnight. My mother rented No.82, just east of the West Pier and opposite the now-derelict paddling pool, for many years and she had a small fridge and a small electric cooker in hers. The electricity bill from Seeboard (‘No. 82 Kings Road Arches’) was delivered there.   I remember going down there with her one spring weekend in around 1963 and finding a whole group of Rockers in leather jackets lying on the ground in front of ours – they obligingly moved when we arrived.   Most of these smaller ‘beach hut’ arches now seem to be derelict which is a pity – put in a bathroom (and some were big enough for that) and you could partially solve Brighton’s flat crisis at modest cost!

    By Adrian Baron (24/01/2007)
  • The photo shown above has my Grandfather’s cafe in it, ‘HOLGATES’. It was right next to the fishermen’s market.

    By Neil Holgate (29/01/2012)
  • Hi Neil. I used to work for your nan and grandad at Holgates in 1955 when the Leach brothers were there working. I left a message for your dad on the Arches page after he wrote on there but never heard from him. Then I went to Asda as a fisherman said he worked there and I left him a note which they said they would pass on but I don’t know if he received it. If you read up on the other page you will see the info. Is he keeping well, are you tall like your dad? They were a lovely family.

    By Pamela Smith (07/02/2012)
  • One of these arches was rented to the Brighton Cruising Club. I visited it on many occasions as my Grandfather was a member. I remember it stretching a long way back, very dimly lit and there were a number of snooker tables in the back. It always seemed very damp, dark  and musty. I’m sure there was gas lighting at some stage. At the front of the arch were panoramic windows overlooking the beach and the hard-standing where they kept some of the small sailing dinghies. I believe that some of these were moved inside during the winter.

    There was a bar area near the windows and the old leather arm-chairs all smelt of stale beer and cigar smoke.

    By Dave Crockatt (22/01/2018)
  • Hi Dave, you were almost right about the gas lighting. There were indeed two snooker tables at the rear of the club. I used to be a member there around the early to mid ’70s, and played snooker for the club in the Brighton and Hove snooker league on a Monday night. They used to have to keep gas burners gently running under the snooker tables to keep the slate warm and therefore keeping the cloth dry. I seem to remember the steward/barman was a Scottish guy called Bob. The club also had a rowing section which competed in regattas. 

    By Nigel Vary (19/04/2018)
  • Hi Nigel, I think we probably met at some time at The Cruising Club – I used to sail from there in the mid 70s to early 80s. I remember Bob the steward and Jim (Mac) Macreaney along with Jim Hemsley and other sailors. The Gaybo brothers made canoes for the club and Chris Sharman-Jackson ran the (then fairly new) windsurfing section. Many inebriated nights ensued, the girls rowing with Mo Jackson were a force with which to be reckoned. Shame it all had to end. Very best

    By Paul Sibbons (22/08/2018)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *