Brighton & Hove, film and cinema

The adjoining towns of Brighton and Hove on England's south coast were the site of some of the earliest activity in the film industry anywhere in the world. Several of the most important pioneers lived and worked here—William Friese-Greene, Esmé Collings, James Williamson, George Albert Smith—perhaps demonstrating the proposition that a critical mass of interest and talent in one place drives technology forward. The presence in the town of one of the most important engineers of early cinematographic equipment, Alfred Darling, is also of considerable significance and the influence of the entrepreneur Charles Urban on film activity in the area cannot be over-estimated.
      Some of the earliest studios were built here and, given the proximity of the area to London and its popularity during the previous century since the Prince Regent made a home in Brighton, it is unfortunte that it did not continue to develop as the centre of the British film industry—in preference (or addition) to the Elstree/Borehamwood area. Nonetheless, the listings of films made in Brighton between 1896 and the present day demonstrates the city's importance to the big screen medium.
      This section not only records some of the micro-history of Brighton and Hove's early contribution to the media but explores the continuing cinema heritage of what is now the unified city of Brighton & Hove. A directory of the city's cinemas reflects the more general patterns of the rise and fall of big screen entertainment.

Cinema-by-Sea cover
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The story of film-making and cinemas in Brighton, Hove and district so far.
1: Off to a good start
2: The troubles begin
3: Sound and decline

cinemas/pics/Princes CinemaDuke of York's Cinema
CINEMAS in Brighton: An introduction

CINEMA DIRECTORY complete listing with links to pages on individual cinemas
Checklist of Brighton cinemas by date of opening and closing
Cinemas in Sussex The wider context

Brighton RockQuadrophenia
FILMS The ones made or set in Brighton since 1896
complete listing

Films made in the Brighton & Hove area
Silent films complete listing
    — Silent films made in Shoreham
Sound films title listings, alphabetical and by year
    — Sound films to 1999 complete listing
    — Sound films from 2000 partial listing
Short films and others
Newsreels (historical)
Films set in but not shot in Brighton

Resources and reference listing

Charles UrbanJames WilliamsonWilliam Friese-GreeneGeorge Albert Smith
PEOPLE The ones who made film history

Friese-Greene plaqueWilbury Villas
PLACES Where film history was made

Brighton & Hove commemorative film plaques

G A Smith's studio in Hove
STUDIOS Where films were made

Grandma's Reading Glass
CHRONOLOGY The city's contribution to film history

This is a continuing project, so any comments would be welcome.

Page updated 24 May 2022
© David Fisher