157 Kingsway

You can always be sure that there will be something interesting behind a tall brick wall. However, these bricks aren’t your typical red house bricks. These silvery-brown specials were imported especially from Italy and came individually wrapped.

157 Kingsway on the Hove seafront, originally known as 1 Princes Crescent, was dreamt up in 1934 by Ian Stuart Miller, an eccentric iron millionaire from Newcastle. He came to Hove in 1923 and soon began investing in local businesses such as a cinema on Denmark Villas.

He loved the Art Deco style of the day which led to him employing the architect Robert F. Crombie. Born in 1887, Crombie had listed to his credit over fifty cinemas with names such as Plaza, Regent and Ritz. He also designed the beautiful Streatham Ice Rink where I used to skate as a child.

The villa was completed in 1935 and picking Hove as its location was seen as a particularly philanthropic gesture. It was the time of the depression and unemployment was high. The accommodation consisted of two master bedrooms, five guest rooms, three rooms for the servants and a flat above the garage for the chauffeur. The most advanced features of the day were installed such as electrically heated panels, concealed cove lighting and an illuminated fountain. The leftover bricks were buried in Denmark Villas.

The building is now owned by the Masonic Benevolent Institution, has been tastefully extended and is used as a care home. It is possible to see this building during Open House week. For those who can’t wait, I can confirm that it is possible to peer over the wall. However, I deny that I have ever tried doing so!