Brighton and Hove became a city in 2001. This page links to free-to-view films and videos showing community life in the century before city status was received.
Brighton And Hove Before The 1920s
The HuntleyFilmArchives collection includes this short film from 1896. In it we see a railway train arrive at Hove Station, passengers get on or off, and then watch the train leave.
In the HuntleyFilmArchives collection is this footage from Brighton in the late 1910s or early 1920s. Midnight Follies girls enjoy their time on the beach.
Films From The 1920s
In 1920 Tom Payne won the London to Brighton walking race, organised by the Surrey Walking Club. He walked the entire distance in 8 hours, 21 minutes, and 33 ⅖ seconds, ending at Brighton seafront.
British Pathé caught the final moments, including Tom Payne’s emotional response to winning. On another occasion, they filmed the same man winning the Manchester walk.
The title of this British Pathé film describes a caught whale, and the intertitle is “A Finny Visitor. Huge Whale Thrasher succumbs to charms of famous sea side resort”.
However, what is actually seen on screen is a dead basking shark.
It’s an unusual scene though, and a small crowd of men in flat caps stand around staring at it. Some of them attempt to lift the dead creature, revealing a small pool of blood.
Now part of the HuntleyFilmArchives collection, this film footage was recorded on Brighton Beach in the 1920s. Scenes include small boats, women in long dresses, and caravans.
This 1920s British Pathé records the London to Brighton road rally. We see Brighton beach, lots of old cars and motorcycles, and the crowd of people in town gathered to watch the event.
In the 1920s, Brighton was packed with spectators as groups of university students dressed up and performed simple street entertainment routines.
CEA (Cinema Exhibitors Association) Sports were the focus of this British Pathé film recorded in Brighton in the 1920s.
Charabancs were a popular group transport at the time and we see several of them in action. The entertainment rides young adults are seen enjoying are more akin to childrens’ playground rides today.
Greater Hove Celebrations (1927)
The official title of this 1927 British Pathé film reads: ” Brighton. Greater Hove celebrations – famous seaside town celebrates expansion with gay carnival”.
However, this is a traditional British carnival on a windy day rather than a Pride event.
Floats, horse riders, children and adults, historical costumes and fancy dress abound. One person holds a sign saying ‘Hove’s Greatest Cabbage’.
Filmed on 12 June 1929, the title of this newsreel is “Empire News Bulletin. British Cinema Owners assemble at Brighton to discuss and help British film production”.
The various shots of men and women posing in front of Brighton Pavilion were cinema industry professionals, possibly the Cinematograph Exhibitors’ Association.
Footage shows Councillor E. E. Lyons, proprietor of the Academy, West Street, who died on 9 August 1934. Others present are Mr. T. Ormiston, Mr. Arthur Cunningham, Alderman E. Trounson, and Mr. Matt. Raymond. Councillor T. H. Dovener, Mrs. Dovener and their two adult daughters also appear.
When Prince George, the Duke of Kent, arrived in full naval uniform to open Brighton’s new Aquarium, British Pathé were there to film it. The aquarium cost £120,000 to build, at a time when family homes cost just a few hundred pounds.
Evacuees And Holidays In The 1940s
British Pathé recorded the moment young evacuee children arrived in Brighton from London and Croydon. After various arrangements, they were then sent on another train journey to other inland reception centres.
We can only imagine how bewildering this experience was for the children who left their parents, relatives and friends behind and had no idea whose home they would end up in.
At the time this British Pathé film was made in 1946, Brighton received 2 million visitors a year.
We are shown the pier, amusements, portrait sketcher, a shell fish shop, a palmist parlour, ice cream, deckchairs and interesting fashions of the time.
This amateur home movie from the 1940s is now part of the HuntleyFilmArchives collection. It shows families, people and a dog enjoying the seaside. Then people are seen walking along Madeira Drive. Finally, the Volks Railway passes in the background.
Just two years after the Second World War ended, British Pathé came to record the seaside crowds enjoying themselves. Already modern blocks of flats face the seafront, although the Grand Hotel, Regency Pavilion and Aquarium are seen too.
The traditional British seaside with deckchairs, an open top bus, cockles and whelks for sale, a childrens’ roundabout, pier telescope, ice cream and pleasure boats are all here.
Brighton In The 1950s
This film, now held in the BFI (British Film Institute) collection, won an award in the Edinburgh Festival of 1957. The Regency era ghost is played by Alec Clunes, father of Martin Clunes and close family relation to Jeremy Brett.
Although it was created to tell a comedic fictional tale, the use of real life Brighton means we glimpse the people and buildings of Brighton in the 1950s.
This British Pathé footage captures scenes of Brighton beach and the surrounding streets in the 1950s.
In February 1956 Brighton and the South East of England was hit with a 90 mile an hour gale. British Movietone captured pedestrians on the street, looking like they were having fun while battling to stand upright.
Changing Society In The 1960s
This 1960 home movie footage is held in the Kinolibrary Archive Film collection. It shows a sunny day trip to Brighton. Scenes include Brighton Pier, a cafe and the beach.
In 1962 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip opened the George Street Renovation Scheme in Hove.
The ceremony was attended by Hove’s dignitaries, and watched by crowds of spectators.
A little girl called Pat Reynolds carried a cushion on which lay ceremonial scissors, which she handed to the Mayor of Hove. He then handed the scissors to the Queen, who cut the ceremonial tape strung across the street.
Next, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Brighton and Hove greyhound stadium, where they talked to members of local youth movements.
Finally, the royal couple sat in an open Land Rover as they were driven past a Guard of Honour.
Only one portion of this HuntleyFilmArchives footage shows Brighton, before moving on to Cardiff, Broadway and London.
Amanda Huntley was still in a pram when her family recorded the home movie of the Brighton Film Festival in 1962. The Continentale is shown, along with the mock tudor exterior of the Aldeburgh Cinema.
This 1960s film of Brighton is part of the HuntleyFilmArchives collection. It tells the simple story of an artist chasing after a girl he spotted through a telescope.
YouTube channel Footageforpro.com uploaded archival footage shot by an English filmmaker in Brighton in 1963. Scenes include the front of the Aquarium (Sea Life), people relaxing on the beach, children’s games on the beach, people walking in front of the sea, and St Peter’s Church.
The HuntleyFilmArchives collection holds footage of the Mods and Rockers descending on Brighton in the summer of 1964, which led to violence and police chases.
The opening scenes are a good look at youth fashion of the mid 1960s. It can be dated to 1964 because one of the scooters has a tax disc showing expiry in April 1965. One of the scooter riders is still a learner driver, displaying L plates.
One young man has his shoes shined on the street, a practice which has long ceased in the UK.
Later, play fighting between the crowds of mods and rockers suddenly turns into real fights. The police were standing by, so they now spring into action. Many young people are arrested, trying to hide their faces as they enter the court building.
At Lobb, the broken shop window is removed and replaced.
The final scenes show the resort quiet as the stragglers leave.
Martinus Wallass uploaded this footage of the mods and rockers violence that broke out on Brighton Beach in May 1964. The choice of sinister music is surprising but reflects the concern felt by people at the time.
This black and white short film from the HuntleyFilmArchives shows people coming and going at Brighton Station in the 1960s.
Footage From The 1970s
YouTube channel Tallslimguy uploaded this footage recorded in 1970 and 1973. It shows Brighton’s Churchill Square and Western Road.
Old Pathe footage of Brighton between 1972 and 1979.
From ThamesTv comes this footage of Brighton filmed in 1979, including the Royal Pavilion, the two piers and the small seafront railway.
Brighton And Hove In The 1980s
YouTube channel Neil Miles uploaded this BBC footage from 1980. Jack Tinker, theatre critic of the Daily Mail, moved to Brighton in 1960. As post-war planning allowed whole streets of Old Brighton to be torn down and replaced by tower blocks and car parks, many people moved away, But Jack was not one of them.
YouTube channel Lurgs uploaded a short film showing photos taken in Brighton in the 1980s, including a comparison of the Palace Pier & West Pier between 1988 and 2005.
In September 1988 Jon Silver and his friend David rented a video recorder from Multibroadcast shop in Blatchington Road. They recorded 5 hours of footage for a spoof docu-feature which was never completed.
However, thirty years later the material takes on new meaning as it shows several streets of Hove as they were then. So Jon has removed the audio recording and edited the visual footage.
The short film now shows the Church Road area of Hove in 1988, including a drive from Western Road to Blatchington Road as the rented video recorder was returned to the shop.
In the 21st Century
YouTube channel DaveSpencer32 has a vast collection of videos showing buses around the UK in past decades. This footage of buses in Brighton in 2001 was filmed in the same year Brighton and Hove became a city.
Back to East Sussex page
Back to Local History Videos Home page