Brighton & Hove film commemorative plaques

Brighton and Hove, separately and now jointly, have been marking the locations associated with its historical contribution to the film and cinema industry for over 50 years. There are no corresponding plaques in the Shoreham and Southwick area. These are the plaques erected in Brighton & Hove, in approximate chronological order of their erection.

Brighton County Borough Corporation/Brighton Borough Council

20 Middle Street20 Middle Street, Brighton, now the office of a digital design company. The plaque was erected by Brighton County Borough Corporation and unveiled in September 1951 by Michael Redgrave, one of the large number of stars who appeared in The Magic Box, the 1951 film about William Friese-Greene. Friese-Greene's third son, Graham, and the film's director, John Boulting, were also present. It reads: 'It was here that the inventor of cinematography, William Friese-Greene (1855-1921) carried out his original experiments which led to a world-wide industry'. In 1904 this was the address of Captain W Lascelles Davidson, an experimenter in colour cinematography, who possibly lived and certainly had a business here, the latter in collaboration with Dr Benjamin Jumeaux, which was also listed in the 1905 directory, along with a reference to Davidson Patents. Davidson and Jumeaux had a 'laboratory for natural colour photography'. The commentary on the Pathé newsreel of the unveiling shows a shed at the back of building where Friese-Greene is said in some sources to have worked between between 1907 and 1910 but he may spent no more than a couple of months here in 1905. The plaque itself used a design created in 1924 by Eric Gill (1882-1940), who was born and grew up in Brighton and later lived at Ditchling, on the Downs above the city. His later work includes the bas relief carving of Prospero and Ariel on the BBC's Broadcasting House, London, and the typefaces Gill Sans and Perpetua. This plaque was made by one of his studio's staff.

Lewes Crescent plaque18 Lewes Crescent, Brighton. A Brighton Corporation plaque commemorates the home of the film star Dame Anna Neagle and her husband, the film producer Herbert Wilcox. It reads: 'Dame Anna Neagle 1904-1986 actress and Herbert Wilcox 1890-1977 film producer lived here 1953-1969'.

Wykeham Terrace plaque7 Wykeham Terrace, Brighton. The final home of actress Dame Flora Robson (1902-1984), 'actress of stage and screen', who moved here from 14 Marine Gardens in 1976, is marked by a Brighton Corporation plaque. There is another memorial to her in the porch at the nearby St Nicholas' Church.

Royal Crescent plaque4-5 Royal Crescent, Brighton. The home of actor, theatre manager and film director Laurence Olivier is marked by a Brighton Corporation plaque. It reads: 'Laurence Baron Olivier of Brighton OM actor 1907-1989 lived here 1968-1979'.


Hove Borough Council plaques

Cambridge GroveCambridge Grove, Hove, was a criminal defence law office. The rest of the site now houses an MOT testing centre. The plaque, placed here by Hove Borough Council, reads: 'James Williamson 1855-1933 cinema pioneer worked in these premises'.

Chantonbury Road18 Chanctonbury Road, Hove was the last home of G A Smith. A plaque was placed here by Hove Borough Council. 'G A Smith 1864-1959 cinematograph pioneer lived here'.

Worcester Villas9 Worcester Villas, Portslade. The plaque, placed here by Hove Borough Council, reads: 'William Friese-Greene Cinematograph Pioneer lived here 1910-1913'. It was his last association with Brighton and Hove. From here he moved to Maida Vale in London and died there in 1921. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery.

Courtney Tye plaqueCourtney Tye, Courtney Terrace, Kingsway, Hove. The plaque, placed here by Hove Borough Council, reads: 'Elizabeth Allan 1910-1990 film and stage star lived here.'

Cinema 100 plaques
placed in association with the British Film Institute (BFI) to mark the centenary of cinema in 1996.

Pandora Gallery132 Kings Road, Brighton, now the Melrose Restaurant. Now badly worn in its exposed position on the seafront opposite the even more deteriorated West Pier, it reads: 'On this site stood the Pandora Gallery where films were first shown to the public outside London on 25th March 1896'.

Marine Gardens plaque14 Marine Gardens, Brighton. A Cinema 100 plaque was placed here on the home of Flora Robson. It reads: Dame Flora Robson (1902-1984) Distinguished Film and Theatre Actress Lived here happily 1961-1976. From here she moved to Wykeham Terrace, where she lived for the remainder of her life.

Duke of York's plaqueDuke of York's Cinema, Preston Circus. This Cinema 100 plaque reads: 'Duke of York's Cinema One of the earliest purpose-built Cinemas still operating. First screening 22nd September 1910'.

St Ann's Well GardensSt Ann's Well Gardens. This Cinema 100 plaque is on one of the four brick gateposts at the Somerhill Road entrance to the park. It reads: 'St Ann's Well Gardens, site of the Film Studio 1897-1903 Created by George Albert Smith'. Strictly speaking, the studio came a little later, although film-making activities began in 1897. The continued after 1904, when Smith moved to Southwick.

Church Road156 Church Road, Hove, now an opticians shop. It was unveiled by media historian Frank Gray and reads: '1896-1898 Site of the First Film Studio amd Laboratory created by James Williamson'. This was formerly numbered 144 Church Road. In fact, there was no studio as such and the 'laboratory' was part of his normal photographic processing activity, which he had undertaken since moving to these premises from Kent in 1888.

Kings Walk, Shoreham. One of the Cinema 100 plaques erected on the wall of a church hall near to the site of Shoreham Beach Film Studio, built in 1915 on the shingle foreshore. It reads: 'North West of this Church stood the Shoreham Film Studio, Home of the Progress Film Company 1915-1923'.


Other plaques

Plaque disappeared133 Queen's Road/133 North Street, now Boots store. A rectangular illustrated panel was erected here on 24 May 2001 by the Cinema Theatre Association to mark the location of the Regent Cinema. The panel, unveiled by the actress Susannah York, contained details about the cinema's history and was on the wall near the doors to the Queen's Road entrance. It has been removed.

Burlington Street plaque25 Burlington Street, Brighton. The home of music hall and film comedian Max Miller (1895-1963) is marked by a British Music Hall Society plaque. There are other plaques to him placed by the Max Miller Appreciation Society at other homes in the area: 160 Marine Parade (unveiled 19 November 2006 by Roy Hudd and Michael Aspel) and Ashcroft in Kingston Lane, Shoreham (unveiled 23 July 2000 by Ken Dodd). His statue by Peter Webster stands in New Road, Brighton.


Several personalities associated with the media, mostly still living, are commemorated in the Walk of Fame at Brighton Marina.

Page updated 10 May 2022
© David Fisher