SS Brighton

Photo:SS Brighton

SS Brighton

From the private collection of the late Trevor Chepstow

Skating with friends

By Philip Burnard

Where did the name come from?

In my early to mid teens, me and some friends decided to investigate the ice skating rink at the bottom of West Street, called the SS Brighton. I am not sure I ever found out why it was called that. Ice skating, and perhaps the fact that I was getting a bit older, proved to be much easier than roller skating. First, you were given a pair of proper ice skating boots and second, there is considerably more friction involved in skating over ice. 

Did you ever go ice-skating at SS Brighton? Share your memories by posting below

Spectacular falls

Every hour or so, an odd machine was driven around the rink to clear off the ice crystals on top of rink. The rejuvenated ice was much quicker to skate on after this procedure. We fairly soon got the hang of ice skating and two of us learned to speed skate. Again, every hour or so, everyone who could not speed skate was ordered off the ice and we did rapid circuits of the rink. Falls were spectacular but never, as I remembered damaging. You simply slid down the ice. I had a slight worry about whether or not anyone ever had their fingers skated over. I did once try roller skating, but it is ice skating, every time, for me.

This page was added on 25/06/2015.
Comments about this page

From the photo attached to my piece, it is clear that the 'SS Brighton' was the 'Sports Stadium, Brighton'.  I had always thought there was some sort of nautical reference in the name. It is good to have that cleared up!

By Philip Burnard (26/06/2015)

Hello cousin! I always thought that the SS was simply an abbreviation for Sports Stadium.

My sister actually had her fingers skated over by a friend, but there was no lasting damage.

Regards, Alan.

By Alan Hobden (26/06/2015)

Hello, Alan, good to see you again!  From what I can make out, the 'nautical' theme (SS Brighton) was introduced when the building was first built and was in the Art Deco style. The 'liner' look of the building thus prompted the name. 

By Philip Burnard (26/06/2015)

Hello Philip. Good to see you too! According to Trevor Chepstow, who has submitted several articles on this subject to the MyB&H website, SS Brighton was a contraction of Swimming Stadium Brighton, and the opening ceremony on 29 June 1934 did have a nautical theme. It was converted from a swimming pool in 1935, and reborn as an ice stadium on 16 October that year. The clever change of name (to Sports Stadium Brighton) still retained the old SS Brighton image. I used to go ice-skating there myself, but cannot remember ever thinking it looked like a liner. The design was obviously lost on me! Regards, Alan.

By Alan Hobden (01/07/2015)

I have many lovely memories of the old ice rink in the 1950s. We used to go to the Christmas shows – ‘Rose Marie on Ice’ is one that stays in my mind. When I was about 8/9 years old I was allowed to go skating with my friend Janet; her lovely Mum made us both skating skirts, mine was orange lined with white taffeta and we would twirl around with more enthusiasm than skill but it was great fun. After a few laps, carefully keeping near the edge to grab the barrier if needed, we would hop off, being sure to put our skate guards on and wobble along to the little coffee bar at the rear for a cheese roll and hot blackcurrant drink. After a few sessions, when we were sure that we would like it, I remember having my first pair of new white leather ice skates purchased from Wisdons in Duke St. It was lovely not to have queue up to use the brown hired ones any more. Like countless others, I did have a few falls, still have a small scar more than 60 years later where someone skated over my leg, must admit that I was more worried about getting blood all over the white taffeta lining of my skirt than the actual injury. In the early 1960s I still used to skate occasionally with friends from work (AA)  Also, we would go to watch the wrestling. It was the era of Jackie Pallow, Mick McManus, Giant Haystacks and Sky High Lee to name but a few. It was so ‘staged’ and predictable but entertaining nevertheless. As teenagers we would laugh at the antics of the ‘old’ ladies (now my age) sitting right down in the front near the ring, shouting and screaming at the ‘baddies’. I used to take my children skating in 1970s/early 80s at the little rink in Queens Sq. near the clock tower but it was not the same. I now take my Grandchildren to the temporary rink at the Pavilion which is great fun but we need a permanent ice rink in Brighton once more. Promises, promises!! 

By Elaine Chamberlain (01/07/2015)

Hi, my mum Sheila Canton skated there when she left school from about 1937 until 1939 when she went on tour to South Africa, Australia and NZ. She married one of the lead skaters at the time - Ronnie Priestley.

By Jan Finnis (29/11/2015)

I don't think Eileen Chamberlin could have seen Giant Haystacks at S.S. as he came onto the wrestling scene long after 1965. I went to the last wrestling night held at S.S., top of the bill was Tibor Szackaks vs Peter Mavia. Also Jacki Palo vs Lindy Caulder. I was first in the queue and Benny Lee took me in for free. Lovely man.

By P. Smith (20/11/2016)

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