Title ID 4033Collection ID121
TitleThe Palace Pier
Date[ca. 1961]
CollectionJohn Mitchell
ThemeSeaside Cine Club Film-making Case Study Brighton
KeywordsBoats Leisure Time Activities Piers Seaside Resorts
RegionalBrighton and Hove East Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionJohn P. Mitchell
CameraJohn P. Mitchell
DirectorJohn P. Mitchell
FormatStandard 8mm Colour Silent
Duration5 min. 30 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A portrait of Brighton’s Palace Pier by a local cine enthusiast. The film follows the Brighton and Hove Photographic Club’s trip to the pier.


An opening shot of the Palace of Fun amusement arcade is followed by scenes of people paying an entrance fee to the pier. On the pier itself a photographer touts for business, attempting to get passers-by to have their pictures taken. Members of the Photographic Club set up shots with their stills and movie cameras. A young boy takes great care over setting up his camera on a tripod. Two young men enter the helter skelter - The Joy Glide; shots of people sliding down the slide. At the change booth a coin is exchanged for pennies, which are then fed into a variety of slot machines in the Penny Arcade, including an Allwin machine, saucy peepshow machines, pinball, a horserace game and a fruit machine. There is a brief shot of a sailor hitting a punchbag. The camera pans across several painted signs ont he fairgrounds rides and stalls: ‘Thrills Without Spills’, ‘House of Hades’, Coca Cola, Candy Floss. Outside the Ghost Train people pay at the booth, then emerge later, laughing. Anglers fish from a lower jetty. Passengers board a speed boat which takes them along the coast then back under the pier. People watch from deckchairs on the pier. The film then cuts to an elevated view of the coast and quickly pans to a bin full of litter.


The Palace Pier (ca.1961)

Contextual information

The film is a concise portrait of Brighton’s Palace Pier (later renamed Brighton Pier) and of a photographic club practicing their hobby.

John Mitchell was a productive member of the Brighton and Hove Photographic Club; its members and their activities feature in a number of his other films. This film is a good example of how a keen amateur shot and edited his work.

Other films in Screen Archive South East’s collection which also predominantly featuring Brighton include Sussex Symphony (1950?), Brighton (1957?), [Beautiful Brighton and Hove] (ca. 1960) and Brighton Pictures I, II & III (1960s). John Mitchell’s Fun of the Fair (ca. 1962) focuses on fairground rides and visitors to the fair. Screen Archive South East also holds material produced by a number of cine clubs across the region, which focus on local subjects, for example: [Ashford Railway Works: Local Industries and Farming] (ca. 1947).

Related titles

Related resources


Brighton History Centre records at The Keep

“Brighton History Centre holds an extensive range of material for the study of Brighton's history and culture, both past and present.” The collection includes newspapers and periodicals for Brighton and the region; books and pamphlets on Brighton; an extensive collection of photographs, postcards and slides, maps; Brighton and Sussex ephemera, including theatre, cinema and sporting programmes, scrapbooks and posters; oral histories of local people. A catalogue listing further references and resources accompanies a selection of films about Brighton and Hove (from Screen Archive South East’s collection) is available online from The Keep.

National Fairground Archive

The National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield comprises, a "collection of photographic, printed, manuscript and audiovisual material covering all aspects of the culture of travelling showpeople, their organisation as a community, their social history and everyday life; and the artifacts and machinery of fairgrounds.”

Slot Machines

The Mechanical Memories Amusement Museum in Brighton houses a collection of penny arcade slot machines dating from 1895 to 1945.

British Film Institute National Archive & BFI Reuben Library

The BFI in London holds many ‘How To’ manuals and publications giving advice to the amateur film-maker and cine societies. The catalogue is searchable online.


British Film Institute National Library

The BFI National Library houses a selection of periodicals relating to amateur film-making, including Amateur Cine World and Home Movies & Home Talkies. The magazines contain many references to cine clubs and societies nationwide.


Institute of Amateur Cinematographers

“An international organisation whose aims are to further interest and education in relation to all aspects of film and video making and associated visual arts.” The website has links to further useful resources as well as lists of cine clubs and societies nationwide.


The National Piers Society website.

Slot Machines

A website dedicated to vintage slot machines.