Entertainment complex opened in 1965
Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990. As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.
The site of the Kingswest complex was partially cleared pre-war for a proposed winter garden, but the buildings fronting King’s Road , Kent Street and West Street were not demolished until 1963. Designed by Russell Diplock, the new building was the first phase of the massive West Street / Churchill Square redevelopment area, and opened as the Brighton Top Rank Suite on 10 November 1965; the original plans also included a banqueting hall, restaurant, cinema and car-park on the adjacent Sports Stadium site. The initial facilities included only bars and a large dance hall, but in December 1966 a tenpin bowling centre and an ice-rink, which was convertible into a conference hall for 6,000 delegates, were opened to compensate to some extent for the loss of the S.S.Brighton (see ” West Street “).
After only four years operation though, the bowling lanes closed in November 1970 and the ice-rink was closed the following September after financial losses; no more conferences were then held. In the summer of 1972 the building was renamed the ‘ Kingswest ‘, and underwent a £500,000 conversion; the lower floors were converted into several separate dance halls and bars, and the upper floor, the former ice-rink, was converted into a triple-screen Odeon cinema complex. Opening on 18 April 1973, the cinema replaced the nearby Odeon in West Street , and also the Academy and the Regent cinemas.
Further changes were completed in May 1987 when an arcade from King’s Road to West Street was opened, adding cafe.-bars and shops to the facilities of the Odeon , Busbys discotheque, and the Top Rank Suite. The building was renamed the ‘Kingswest Boulevard’, and two more cinema screens, on the ground and basement levels, were added; the changes coincided with the first Brighton Film Festival. In August 1989, a sixth screen was opened for 103 viewers in the former Boulevard restaurant in time for the second film festival on 8-10 September 1989. The Odeon can now accommodate 2,397 film-goers. On 22 March 1990 Busbys reopened as Oriana’s, while the Top Rank Suite was renamed The Event.
The Kingswest building is probably the most heavily criticised in the town for its appearance in such a prime location. The pale cream southern facade is topped by an unusual faceted roof of gold-coloured aluminium which was intended to glitter in the sun and to give the impression of floating as a band of reflected light at night. To many, however, the Kingswest is a plain, bulky, shapeless edifice. The appearance of the building has been improved since it opened though, and at least the site was spared the grey concrete drabness of many other buildings of the 1960s.
Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.