The location in 1954, before demolition
The Top Rank Suite nearing completion in 1965
Kingswest's litter-strewn cinema entrance in 1986.
The Odeon, front and back, in 2008. Small efforts have been made to mask the drabness but to little avail and sorting out the internal layout would probably require a fresh start. Plans to replace this building and the adjacent Brighton Centre have been discussed periodically since the start of this century.
Photos: David Fisher
King's Road/West Street, Brighton
operated 1973 to date
• Originally designed by Russell Diplock Associates, it was meant to link into the then proposed original (uncovered) Churchill Square shopping area, also by Diplock. It opened 10 November 1965 as a dance hall and bars called the Top Rank Suite, then renamed the Top Rank Centre in December 1966 with the addition of an ice skating rink and a 14-lane bowling alley opens (the latter closes November 1970). The idea is to allow Rank to close other local sites—the SS Brighton skating rink in West Street and Top Rank bowling in Denmark Villas, Hove (see Lido). It is finally renamed the Kingswest leisure complex in 1972 (Kingswest from Kings Road and West Street).
• The Rank Organisation acquired the SS Brighton in February 1962 and closed it in October 1965, prior to demolishing it to make way for a cinema, restaurant and car park extension of the Top Rank Suite. It became a bare-earth car park in 1966 and remained derelict for 24 years.
1973 April 18 Three-screen cinema, replacing the three screens of Odeon West Street and the nearby Academy Cinema and Regent Cinema, opened in the space of the former ice-rink as part of the Kingswest leisure complex, with an entrance at first-floor level accessed by steps and an escalator in an alley at the back of the building. Seats: 390 in Odeon 1, 885 in Odeon 2 and 504 in Odeon 3, the three auditoria served by a single projection booth, with 70mm capability for Odeon 3..
1987 May Fourth and fifth screens with 275 and 242 seats are added in the space of the former roller skating rink in time for the first Brighton Film Festival. A new ground-floor entrance is created with an arcade running through to King's Road.
1989 August Sixth screen with 103 seats is added in a former kitchen area, bringing total seating to 2,397.
1999 May 19 Rank Organisation announces plans to replace the building with a new 10-screen 2,550-seat multiplex 'within three years'. The site would also house three restaurants, including a Hard Rock Cafe.
1999 October Planning application for the multiplex rebuild is submitted.
2000 February With group debts of around £1.3bn, Rank sells its Odeon cinema chain to Cinven, a venture capital group that already owns the ABC chain, for £280m. The two chains are merged under the Odeon brand.
2001 December Former Odeon 2 is split into three screens.
2003 March 8 Cinven sells the Odeon cinemas for €628m (£430.6m) to a syndicate led by WestLB and Entertainment Group, having spent £75 million on refurbishing the entire chain.
2004 April Urban Practitioners architectural consultancy is appointed to have ideas for redeveloping Kingswest along with its next-door neighbour, the Brighton Centre.
2004 September 3 WestLB sells its 43.4 per cent stake in the Odeon chain to Terra Firma Capital Partners, which has recently also bought the UCI multiplex cinemas.
2007 January Plans are being developed by Brighton & Hove City Council's minority Labour administration and Standard Life Investments (owner of the Churchill Square shopping mall) to replace the Brighton Centre and Kingswest by expanding Churchill Square. The scheme would include conference facilities, a new cinema, a 'top quality' hotel, more shops and possibly homes.
2009 January Brighton & Hove City Council and
Standard Life Investments commissioned feasibility studies, due for completion by the end of 2009, for redevelopment of the Brighton Centre, Kingswest, Cannon Street and anextended Churchill Square.
early 2010 It was reported that these plans would be on hold for at least another three years.
2012 January Kingswest now has eight screens.
• This was said to be the most profitable cinema site in the Odeon chain and reportedly the only one that never made a loss.
However, the Kingswest complex has been reviled as one of the most ghastly mistakes made by the nexus of planners and local Conservative 'business interests' on the council that managed to wreak such havoc on the town, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. 'Delegates [to the 16th Congress of the ... Union Internationale des Architectes] cannot fail to notice the Brighton Centre, the Top Rank building—now called King's West [sic]—and other lumps that disfigure the central sea-front,' wrote Private Eye (10 July 1987).
Brighton cinema directory
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