Kingswest Centre

Photo:Kingswest Centre

Kingswest Centre

Most unattractive building

By Nigel McMillan, architect

"Probably the most unattractive building in the town. It's the first building I worked on in Brighton (as a labourer not as an architect). It succeeds in its function as an entertainment centre, however it is an eyesore."

Image and text from the 'My Brighton' museum exhibit
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page

I agree - this building is a total eyesore and should really be pulled down and something more attractive built there. Whenever I walk past it I feel kind of disgusted by its ugliness; it is so out of keeping with the rest of the seafront.

By Charlie (24/06/2004)
I love this cinema. I saw some great films there as a child, but I think it's time they tore it down, sorry.
By Alice Keymer (29/12/2004)
My earliest memories of The Kingwest Centre is watching 101 Dalmations and Snow White, my best memory is Star Wars in 1977. Back then I was not interested in the look of a building only the function. Now though, older and wiser, what a big mistake it was to tear down the original frontage, can this ever be learned from? Seems not, plenty of examples of very poor planning, even now in 2005. I've now moved to a seaside town which has that looked-after and not over-developed feel about it: Worthing. Good bye Brighton, I'll miss you but you also annoy me the way you think you're a city. So many attractive and functional buildings which were once stunning, and made people feel good have gone. Now me.
By Andrew Buck (20/05/2005)
From my notes, and checking other sources, the Kingswest Odeon opened in April 1973 with three screens seating 390, 885, and 504 (70mm capability in the 504 seat screen) as a conversion of a short-lived skating rink, bowling alley and conference hall. The foyer and box office were quite inconveniently placed up an escalator at the side of the building; the escalator was not owned by Odeon and by all accounts was more often than not out of use. The Rank Organisation, which owned Odeon, had three other town centre cinemas all of which closed on the opening of the Kingswest. The Academy in West Street closed in January 1973, and the Odeon West Street and Regent Queens Road a few days before the new cinema opened. In May 1987 two further screens were added, each with about 250 seats. At the same time the box office and foyer were moved down to their present street level position, leaving the old foyer as a large upstairs circulation area. In August 1989 a kitchen storage area towards the seafront side of the building was brought into use as a 103 seat sixth screen. To complete the picture to date, in December 2001 the 885 seat auditorium was divided into three. I have to say I've always had a soft spot for the cinema. I had left Brighton by the time it opened but have always been a regular customer when I'm back. The first ten years after it opened were pretty grim ones for cinemas in Britain, and many became run down with couldn't-care staff. But the Odeon was always a ray of sunshine, remaining busy, friendly, and well looked after with good presentation. I found watching a big film in the largest auditorium with its enormous curtains a great experience. I know the exterior arouses passions, and the place is a bit of a rabbit warren for finding your screen, but for me it is a fondly thought of grand old lady. It is after all getting on for being as old as the original 1937 West Street Odeon was when it closed.
By Jeremy Perkins (18/08/2005)
I loved the original screen. It had the largest in Sussex when I worked there 9 years ago. It was 64 foot in length and had one of the best sound systems in the country.
By Cinemas_forever (10/01/2006)
I remember this place being an ice rink. I used to go ice skating on Saturdays and we had to queue up on the escalator as the rink was upstairs. It was lovely inside and seemed very modern compared to the old rink that was there before where the Brighton ice hockey team used to play. It had wooden barriers and seemed very dark whereas the new rink was open all around enabling you to just step onto the ice from anywhere and it had coloured lighting. I was very sad when it closed down as I thought is was one of Brighton's best attractions.
By Christine Lewis (27/08/2006)

I worked at Jenkinson's (the cabaret bar) for a time in '79-80. Lots of memories including seeing Brotherhood of Man and the very first UB40 concert following their first number 1 hit!

By Graham Joyce (06/08/2007)

From 1970, until it was converted into a cinema, I used to skate at the ice rink several times a week. A small group of us used to help clearing/resurfacing the ice after closing time and would receive a free entry ticket as payment. I made many friends there and was very sad to see it close.

By Shaun Feldwicke (14/09/2008)

I visited the Academy cinema when on holiday with my father in 1963. It was equipped with four-track magnetic sound, which was superb. Not all films were screened in four-track, most in single track optical. When we went to the cinema they were screening Lawrence of Arabia, which was screened in four-track.

By David A Ellis (13/10/2009)

Yes, I never understood why the ice-rink closed. It was airy and modern and we skated to the latest pop songs. Loved it.

By Renia (13/04/2013)

First memories- about 1967, watching a crane lowering in sections of the coronet surrounds to the roof and being baffled. What on earth was it? I still wonder. Of course in its first incarnation it was the Top Rank Centre. Does anyone remember the huge Scalextric circuit which existed somewhere under the ice rink, and which vanished when the place became Kingswest? I hate that bloody building- it, along with the almost-as-ropey Brighton Centre, has blighted Brighton's face for far too many years, and is a perfect illustration of Brighton Council Planning Departments complete lack of integrity and respect, both for itself, and the city it purports to serve

By Mark Thompson (14/04/2013)

If you think this building is ugly, just take a look on Streetview at 80 Buckingham Road, Brighton. It is hideous, and makes the Kingswest Centre look positively attractive!

By Alan Hobden (09/01/2014)

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