Photos and articles about Brighton and Hove in the time of coronavirus. See our collection and add your own!

Bombing of Marine Gate

Correction re: photograph caption

It has been brought to my attention, thanks to Peter Groves, that the image here was incorrectly captioned. This is probably a result of a mistake made by museum staff when processing photographs in The Brighton Herald collection. You can see Peter’s article here, for which I am very grateful.

Accommodation for naval personnel

During the Second World War those flats which were unoccupied, were used as accommodation for naval personnel who could not be housed in Roedean School, which at that time was temporarily known as HMS Vernon. The adjacent gasworks at Black Rock was a prime a German target, and Marine Gate was bombed several occasions during WWII.

Repaired and reoccupied

As a result of the bombing it was damaged to such an extent that it was unsafe, and so was left empty for the remainder of the war. After the war, Marine Gate was repaired and reoccupied.The restaurant and the bar and their related facilities which previously serviced the tenants were converted into the additional flats that exist today. The shops on the ground floor became garages to be held on separate leases.

Showing an image of Air Raid damage at Marine Gate, Kemp Town. 16th January 1943.
Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

Comments about this page

  • Marine Gate was the last stop on my paper round in the ’50s. Inside it was well looked after, the floors were as shiny as could be. The outside had an orange hue and the whole building stood out in the sunlight. I enjoyed using the lifts to go to different floors to deliver my papers. One day I did my round on my roller skates and had the (not too bright) idea of whizzing around on those slick floors but the caretaker was about and he got a bit sniffy about it and told me so. The skates were rubber and did not leave any marks on the floor. He was right of course, it didn’t occur to me that the folk living in the flats could hear me strolling along. Just another memory of my childhood.

    By Mick Peirson (24/05/2017)
  • I don’t think this is Marine Gate, Kemp Town, I think its Portland (Gate??) in Portland Road, Hove! The two buildings are of similar art deco style, but this is not Marine Gate. I think somewhere I have a photo of ‘The Bombing of Marine Gate’, and it shows the round art deco windows, that are not seen in the above.  I will see if I can dig out and email to Jennifer or add to the site. 

    By Peter Groves (25/05/2017)
  • I think Peter is right. I cannot think of a view of Marine Gate which would include those houses in the background. A view of the eastern end of Portland Gate looking north-west (from Coleman Avenue?) fits very well, as the houses beyond would have been in Portland Road at the time of the photo, although they are no longer there now.

    By Alan Hobden (25/05/2017)
  • Have to agree with Peter and Alan – just doesn’t look right, especially the houses in the background. Seeing Helen’s pdf, I realised the “trademark” round windows are missing, also the balconies are sharply square, not rounded. As a child during the war, this area was a regular playground, Marine Gate being mostly derelict with “waste” ground to the west (Rifle Butt Road), a large neglected grassed area to the east and also to the north (where the fire station now stands). The houses in the background could well be what was Ingram Crescent in Portland Road, Hove, directly opposite Portland (Gate?). It might have been the view one would have got from the back garden of my friend’s house in Portland Avenue (not Coleman Avenue, Alan).

    By Brian Hatley (26/05/2017)
  • Certainly not Marine Gate. For a start there aren’t enough floors. I didn’t think Marine Gate was that badly damaged either. And yes, it did used to be a creamy yellow colour. We had several customers from there in the 1950s. One that springs to mind was an old lady who had a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Silver Ghost with bodywork that you could stand up in. It had engraved or etched glass in the windows and old railway carriage style handles on the doors.The poor old chauffeur had to sit outside in all weathers and it had a speaking tube with a trumpet beside his right ear so that he could be given instructions as to where to go: “Hannington’s please, Potter” (where else?)! In spite of looking through hundreds of RR photographs, I have never seen another car like it. I expect it got scrapped when the MoT Test came in. Another was a Mr Blow from Covent Garden Market had a weekend flat there. He was only about 4ft 10 tall and I had to put wooden blocks on the pedals of his Rover 90 so that he could reach them! 

    By Tim Sargeant (26/05/2017)
  • I agree with Portland Gate. I know Marine Gate has the reputation of being a most damaged building, being so near the gasworks, but I do not think it incurred that amount of destruction and as Peter states the porthole windows which are a distinctive feature of Marine Gate are not to be seen.

    By Geoffrey Mead (26/05/2017)
  • It certainly does, Helen, as it shows Marine Gate with square-ended balconies, and two horizontals on the balcony railings. The photo here shows rounded balcony ends, and a single horizontal guard rail; so it’s not of Marine Gate. There have been other instances of photos from the Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove bearing incorrect captions. Perhaps Jennifer can persuade them to correct this one, and supply an appropriate one for Marine Gate?

    By Alan Hobden (26/05/2017)
  • To Brian Hatley. Hello Brian. You are right about it not being the top of Coleman Avenue, but it’s not the top of Portland Avenue either according to my 1974 Kellys Directory. This shows the Old Peoples Home at the top (north west) corner of Coleman Avenue, and Portland Gate stretching along Portland Road from the top (north west corner) of Woodhouse Road to the top (north east corner) of Portland Avenue. If the photo shows the north west corner of one of these three side roads, it must have been Woodhouse Road. (Wasn’t that the road where the body of WW2 pilot, Dennis Noble, lay buried for many years?) Unwins was on the north west corner of Portland Avenue in 1974, and the building is still there today, now occupied by Roots Hairdressers. This wrongly-captioned photo has certainly started a lively debate. Regards

    By Alan Hobden (28/05/2017)
  • I’m certain that’s a photo of the north-east corner of St. Margaret’s flats in Rottingdean, built circa 1938 by the developer Charles Neville.  On the other side of the flats (not shown in this view) is the High Street and Gap.  The three detached houses to the right (I cannot name them) are on the seaward side of the coast road as it heads from the crossroads towards Newlands Avenue.  Some, if not all, of their long gardens reached the cliff edge.  The prominent late ’20s or 1930s building seen in the background I cannot name either (we can only see the upper half of it here) but it’s at the crossroads and has contained at ground level a Post Office and various shops over the years, including Clark’s Bakers and Cafe, Flood’s Chemist, Rottingdean Tele-Radio (after its High Street move), Cheshire Cat Restaurant, &c.  I hope this helps.  If anyone could provide the building and house names it would be appreciated.

    By Sam Flowers (29/05/2017)
  • P.S. A great view of today, for comparison with that of 1943, is to be found in Chapter 10 of Douglas d’Enno’s “Rottingdean Through Time”, as seen on the website of – scroll down the page towards the end.

    By Sam Flowers (29/05/2017)
  • Well done Sam, I agree its the flats in Rottingdean, and this also explains why Portland Gate does not appear to have been shown as hit on the Brighton Bombing Map, but the flats at Rottingdean do show as having been hit!

    By Peter Groves (29/05/2017)
  • I think you’re right, Sam. Well done. The unusually shaped window in the gable-roofed building in the background is still there today – above the Sea of Spice restaurant on Marine Drive. 

    By Janet Beal (29/05/2017)
  • Thanks, Peter and Janet.  I like the photo very much for it really seems to capture something of the “we’re all in it together”, “keep calm and carry on” spirit, which I’ve often been told very much existed at the time. I presume it’s the A.R.P. we see attending to the damage.

    By Sam Flowers (29/05/2017)
  • Hi Jennifer, now this has been cleared up it might be a good idea to add the Rottingdean Bombing Map to this page with the bomb position shown in red, I will email it to you.

    By Peter Groves (29/05/2017)
  • So it was Marine Drive, not Marine Gate. I have the book “Rottingdean Through Time”, and the scene at the foot of page 94 shows the subject of the old photo, St Margaret’s, very clearly. Well done Sam.

    By Alan Hobden (29/05/2017)
  • David Rowland in “The Brighton Blitz” (S.B. Publications, 1997 – p. 51) mentions these flats. He says a bomb exploded on the fifth floor: this is evident in the photo, I think.

    By Sam Flowers (26/06/2017)
  • On page 18, Marine Gate does not have any other houses in the background, so there is no confusion about other houses.

    By Richard Newnham (28/03/2022)
  • So the photo of the bombing of Marine Gate is 1942 and has the porthole windows. This is in the Brighton and Hove under fire photos. There are no plotting marks where Portland gate would be.
    The other Portland gate photo is in a different publication.

    By Richard Newnham (28/03/2022)
  • A relatively new and attractive historical information board at the Quarter Deck (on the S.E. side of the Gap) states it was on 18th December, 1942, that St. Margaret’s flats was hit by a Luftwaffe bomb. I think we now have all the detail we need !

    By Sam Flowers (20/05/2022)
  • I am still seeking information on the old lady who lived in Marine Gate in the 1950s. She owned a Rolls Royce which I describe in my posting above, (26/5/2017) with a uniformed chauffeur to drive her.
    At the time, we looked after this car at Bristol Garage, Brighton but I cannot now remember her name. See also my recent posting about this car 14/4/22, ‘Rolls Royce motor carriage’. Grateful for any info. TCS.

    By Tim Sargeant (21/05/2022)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.