Title ID 453Collection ID260
Date[ca. 1956]
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent AmateurNon-fictionAlbum/Journal
KeywordsBeaches Buildings Cars Children Fairgrounds Leisure Time Activities Parks Piers Piers [Palace Pier, Brighton] Piers [West Pier, Brighton] Play Railways Seaside Resorts Shops Tourism
RegionalBrighton and Hove East Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionJohn King
CameraJohn King
DirectorJohn King
ProducerCine Accessories Co. present a King Film Production
DistributorTen copies were held by the Brighton Tourist Office to be loaned out to travel organisations to promote the town.
NarratorGene Crowley
Format16mm Colour Sound
Duration8 min. 30 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A publicity film made by local photographic shop owner/film distributor/amateur cameraman, promoting Brighton as a seaside resort, focusing on the town’s attractions and architecture.


The film begins with scenes of Preston Park followed by views of Victoria Gardens on Grand Parade. A trolley bus passes outside the Brighton College of Art on Grand Parade. High-angle view of Victoria Gardens with St Bartholomew’s Church visible behind. More double-decker trolley buses (all displaying Tamplins Ale adverts) line up on Old Steine. Views of the Victoria Fountain are followed by various shots of the Royal Pavilion, the Dome and the North Gate. There are scenes from The Lanes and its antique shops, the Palace Pier, Madeira Drive and the Volk's Railway. At Peter Pan’s Playground on Madeira Drive children ride in ‘Johnstone’s Midget’ miniature coaches, others ride on a merry-go-round and aeroplane swings. Brighton’s architecture is highlighted with exterior shots of Lewes Crescent and Royal Crescent and details of houses with black-glazed tiles. There are then further views of the Volk's Railway and seafront along Madeira Drive.

From their 'Mobile Promette Bureau' - a caravan on the seafront, the Brighton 'Promettes' provide tourist information. Shots of the Grand, Metropole and Bedford Hotels and the West Pier follow. There are exterior shots of many of Brighton’s entertainment venues including the Savoy (later the ABC) and Odeon cinemas on East and West Street, SS Brighton Ice Rink, Theatre Royal and Louis Tussaud’s waxworks displaying a mechanical Popeye in the window. Further exterior shots illustrate the diversity of Brighton’s restaurants and bars. Back at the seafront the annual open-air art exhibition takes place. People ride in small motorized boats on the boating pool adjacent to the art-deco style bathing pavilion. On a main road outside the town vintage cars make their way to Brighton in the annual Veteran Car Rally. They arrive at Madeira Drive where crowds line the roads. A poster advertises the ‘Rally and Concours d’Elegance’ on Madeira Drive. A number of cars swerve through barriers and practice cornering and stopping. The film ends with a view of crowded beaches and a speedboat heading out to sea past the Palace Pier.


A still from 'Brighton' (ca.1957) showing the Palace PierA still from 'Brighton' (ca.1957) showing the Mobile Promette BureauA still from 'Brighton' (ca.1957) showing the Lanes

Contextual information

John King was a photographic shop owner and cine film enthusiast who also tried his hand at Cinema ownership. At then end of the Second World War, he opened a small newsreel and cartoon cinema, named the Cosy Nook Cinema, in East Street, Brighton. He changed the name in 1946 to King’s Minicine but it only remained in business until 1950. King also owned two photographic shops in Brighton, on East Street and Bond Street, between the 1950s and 80s. He was the sole 16mm distributor for a number Laurel and Hardy films in the UK and even met them when they visited Brighton in 1953.

Changes in many of Brighton’s buildings and their uses are well illustrated in this colourful portrait of the town. Most notably, of the buildings no longer in existence are the Bedford Hotel, which burned down in 1964 and the SS Brighton Ice Rink (previously a swimming pool), demolished in 1965. The art deco bathing pavilion seen on the seafront is (at the time of writing) a restaurant and the adjacent boating pool no longer exists.

This film is the only surviving promotional/publicity film of Brighton held in the archive. Although many would have been made, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s to attract visitors to the resort, most were thrown away when the medium of film as a promotional tool declined. However, Screen Archive South East has many other films featuring Brighton and its attractions as a seaside resort. [Sports Stadium - Opening of the SS Brighton Swimming Pool] (1934) shows the opening of the new swimming pool in Brighton. Sussex Symphony (1950?), Beautiful Brighton and Hove (ca. 1960), Palace Pier (1961?) and Brighton Pictures I, II & III (1960s) are all portraits of the town made by amateur film-makers.

There are also many films in Screen Archive South East’s collection relating to tourism and/or the promotion and publicity of other seaside resorts in the South East. Magical Margate (ca. 1925) is the earliest example in the collection. A Holiday to Jump At (1954), At the Sign of the Ram and Gate (1957) and All Go Margate (1970) are examples of publicity films commissioned by local councils. Sands of Time (1949) is also a locally commissioned publicity film and uses a fictional narrative to introduce the sights and attractions of Hastings.

Related titles

Related resources


John King Film and Sound Specialists sales and services catalogue

Copies of two booklets dating from the early 1950s which have information on the company’s Sales & Services and its 16mm Sound Film Library are available at Screen Archive South East.

Brighton Guide Book

The Brighton Museum collection holds a number of publicity guide books such as this one dating from the 1950s which provided information for tourists on places of interest in Brighton and Hove.


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.


[Brighton and Beach]* (1950-1959)

A newsreel briefly featuring the Promettes. The film can be accessed via the British Pathé Website.

Brighton Promettes* (1956)

A newsreel item about the Promettes. The film can be accessed via the British Pathé Website.

Life Saving Demonstration at Brighton* (1963)

A newsreel which briefly features the Promettes. The film can be accessed via the British Pathé Website.

Further Information on File at Screen Archive South East

Items relating to John King

Items include: copies of articles written by John King, copies of advertisements for his shop, a copy of a photograph of John King with Laurel & Hardy, and a copy of a letter from Stan Laurel.

Johnstone’s Midget model coaches

Cuttings and articles about the model coach company featured in this film.

Journal Articles

Buchanan, Andrew. "If I Were to Make a Film about Brighton ..." *Amateur Cine World

(December 1949) This article outlines how best to film a portrait of a town. It is available at the British Film Institute National Library in London.


Brighton in Pictures

The Brighton History Centre image and photography collections are now held at The Keep. A selection of photographs from the collection is searchable on The Keep website and by request from, Brighton and Hove Museums.

Brighton and Hove Museum Collections

Directory of Cinemas in Brighton and Hove

A directory of cinemas in Brighton and Hove, most now no longer in existence.

My Brighton and Hove

Described as “a living history of Brighton and Hove”, this web resource gathers memories, photographs, knowledge and opinions about the city.