Glimpse history through old images of Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, England.
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.
World War I
Footage recorded between 1914-1918, during the Great War, which later became known as World War I, shows English heavyweight boxer Bombardier Billy Wells exercising with a group of men.
Bombardier Billy Wells At Brighton (1914-1918) – British Pathé on YouTube
Footage from the late 1910s or early 1920s shows Midnight Follies girls enjoy their time on Brighton’s beach.
Frolics On Brighton Beach, 1910s – Film 19428 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
London to Brighton Walk 1920
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.
Tom Paynes Wins London – Brighton Walk (1920) – British Pathé on YouTube
Basking Shark 1920
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.
Whale Caught At Brighton (1920) – British Pathé on YouTube
Film footage of Brighton Beach in the 1920s captures some of the small boats, women in long dresses, and caravans of the time.
Bathing on Brighton Beach, 1920s – Film 11642 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
1920s London to Brighton Road Rally
In 1920s footage of 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.
Old Crocks Brighton (1920-1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
1920s Rag Week
In the 1920s, Brighton was packed with spectators as groups of university students dressed up and performed simple street entertainment routines.
Students’ Rag – Brighton (1920-1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
16-Year-Old Walker 1922
Lots of people came to cheer Lilian Salkeld, aged 16, as she completed the London to Brighton walk in 12 hours 20 minutes.
Wonderful Girl Walker (1922) – British Pathé on YouTube
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.
Cea Sports – Brighton (1920-1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
The official title of this 1927 British Pathé film reads: ” Brighton. Greater Hove celebrations – famous seaside town celebrates expansion with gay carnival”.
Floats, horse riders, children and adults, historical costumes and fancy dress abound. One person holds a sign saying ‘Hove’s Greatest Cabbage’.
Greater Hove Celebrations (1927) – British Pathé on YouTube
Brighton Pavilion in the 1920s
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.
Cinema Owners Meet At Brighton (1920-1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
Brighton Aquarium 1929
Prince George, the Duke of Kent, arrived in full naval uniform to open Brighton’s new Aquarium, in 1929.
The aquarium cost £120,000 to build, at a time when family homes cost just a few hundred pounds.
Brighter Brighton (1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
1920s Car Rally
Old Crocks Brighton (1920-1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
New Road 1932
A huge machine was brought in to help with laying the coastal road.
The Man And The Machine On The Sleeve As The Man The Machiner (1932) – British Pathé on YouTube
Rally Car 1933
Film footage recorded the end of the London to Brighton Rally in 1933.
Of the 77 old vehicles, all at least 29 years old, only 6 failed to complete the full run.
Down To The Sea In Shakes (1933) – British Pathé on YouTube
Boxers training at Brighton (1936) – British Pathé on YouTube
Evacuees in 1940
In 1940, crowds of young evacuees arrived by rail at Brighton Station, to escape the bombing raids over their homes in 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.
Children Re-Evacuated (1940) – British Pathé on YouTube
Bowls Tournament 1940
The country was at war, large numbers of children were parted from their families, but the 21st annual Bowls Tournaments went ahead!
Bowls Tournament (1940) – British Pathé on YouTube
Brighton in 1946
When this 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.
A Day On The Pier! Aka Brighton Pier (1946) – British Pathé on YouTube
1940s footage 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.
Brighton Beach UK, 1940s – Film 91435 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
Seaside Holidays 1947
Birghton’s seaside crowds were filmed two years after the Second World War ended.
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 Issue Title Pathe Pictorial Goes To The Seaside (1947) – British Pathé on YouTube
Tiny Car 1949
Local watchmaker Horace Claydon took good care of his very small car.
Midget Car (1949) – British Pathé on YouTube
Brighton In The 1950s
A comedy 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.
Brighton Story (1955) | BFI National Archive – BFI on YouTube
Benjamin Willeter 1954
Local man Benjamin Willeter, who was 70 years old at the time this item was recorded, built a miniature organ which he played with a match.
Model Organ (1954) – British Pathé on YouTube
Holiday Crowds 1955
Holiday Crowds (1955) – British Pathé on YouTube
This black and white footage captures scenes of Brighton beach and the surrounding streets in the 1950s.
Brighton And Beach (1950-1959) – British Pathé on YouTube
Heavy Gale Winds 1956
In February 1956 Brighton and the South East of England was hit with a 90 mile an hour gale.
Footage captured pedestrians on the street, looking like they were having fun while battling to stand upright.
BRIGHTON GALES – British Movietone on YouTube
Home movie footage recorded in 1960 shows a sunny day trip to Brighton. Scenes include Brighton Pier, a cafe and the beach.
1960 Day Trip to Brighton, Rare Late 1950s, 1960s Summer Home Movie Footage – Kinolibrary on YouTube
George Street Hove 1962
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.
Queen In Sussex (1962) – British Pathé on YouTube
Brighton Film Festival 1962
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.
Only one portion of this HuntleyFilmArchives footage shows Brighton, before moving on to Cardiff, Broadway and London.
Cinemas and Queues, 1960’s Film 18418 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
Busy Beaches 1963
Archival footage shot by an English filmmaker in Brighton in 1963 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.
Brighton 1963 archive footage – Footageforpro.com on YouTube
National Speed Trials 1963
Speed On The Front (1963) – British Pathé on YouTube
Out of Season 1963
These are out takes for a newsreel.
Out Takes / Cuts From Cp 423 – Night Carnival, Brighton Out Of Season And Children’s Carnival (1963) – British Pathé on YouTube
Planning a Tower 1964
1964 saw planning for a Observation Tower, including construction of a scale model of the proposed attraction.
Brighton Observation Tower Planned AKA Brighton Tower Planned (1964) – British Pathé on YouTube
1960s Brighton Station
A short black and white film from the 1960s shows people coming and going at Brighton Station.
Brighton Station, 1960s – Film 49144 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
A demonstration of the Amphiscooter down at the beach.
Amphiscooter On Show At Brighton (1965) – British Pathé on YouTube
Labour Conference 1966
Key figures arrive at the Methodist church during the Labour Conference of 1966.
Labour’s Crucial Conference (1966)- British Pathé on YouTube
Celebrity Golf 1967
Peter Haigh, George Beaumont, Johnny Riscoe, Tom Nelson Keyes, Billy Wright, Ray Barrett, and Tony Britton are some of the celebrities filmed playing golf in 1967.
“Show Biz” Golf At Brighton (1967) – British Pathé on YouTube
Labour Party Conference 1969
Scenes from the Grand Hotel in 1969, as it hosted the Labour Party Annual Conference.
Labour Party Conference (1969) – British Pathé on YouTube
1970’s Churchill Square
Recorded in 1970 and 1973, this footage shows Brighton’s Churchill Square and Western Road.
Brighton Churchill Square – Western Road North Street – 1970 & 1973 – Tallslimguy on YouTube
1970s Seafront & Pier
Brighton Front And Pier (1970-1979) – British Pathé on YouTube
Footage of Brighton filmed in 1979 shows the Royal Pavilion, the two piers and the small seafront railway.
Brighton in the 70’s | East Sussex | 1979 – ThamesTV on YouTube
Redevelopment in 1980
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.
BBC2 | All Change For….Brighton | 1980 – Neil Miles on YouTube
1980s Pier Photos
Enjoy a short film showing photos taken in Brighton in the 1980s, including a comparison of the Palace Pier & West Pier between 1988 and 2005.
Brighton 1980s Photos only – Lurgs on YouTube
Church Road Area 1988
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.
Hove Church Road area 1988 – YouTube
Local Buses 2001
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.
BUSES IN BRIGHTON DEC 2001 – DaveSpencer32 on YouTube
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