Kingsway Court

As the occupant of the seafront spot between Adelaide Mansions and what is now King’s House, Kingsway Court has a lot to live up to for the previous set of buildings on the site was rather special.

Kingsway Court is one of the many 1960s blocks that I consider ugly. It certainly isn’t characterless but it doesn’t warm the heart like the Regency compositions nearby. A terrace of seven townhouses numbered 1-7 Queens Gardens originally occupied the site which became the Kingsway Hotel in the 1930s. No. 7 was occupied by the Sassoon family and King Edward VII was a visitor. The rest of Queen’s Gardens, seven more townhouses, are now King’s House, the administrative headquarters of Brighton & Hove City Council.

The Regency Society’s James Gray Collection (www.regencysociety-jamesgray.com) includes a wonderful photo of the Kingsway Hotel with an obvious clue as to why it was demolished in 1960 – a great chunk of it was damaged by a World War II bomb! “Magnificently equipped flats in one of the finest positions on the South Coast fitted with every possible amenity,” states the original Kingsway Court sales brochure. The balconies’ teak handrails, cocktail bars and 24 hour porter service are detailed. The Bali Brasserie now occupies part of the ground floor and, as was shown to me by its charismatic owner “TC”, the original giant sweeping bar remains intact.

The early 1990s saw Kingsway Court as the subject of a fierce legal battle. The freeholder was the pension fund of Mars (the chocolate people) and leaseholders, including the passionate Shula Rich, disputed a £2 million service charge bill. The leaseholders lost that battle but ended up winning the war by buying the building (as Kingsway Court Freeholders Ltd) in 1996. Shula today chairs the Brighton Hove & District Leaseholders Association (www.leaseadvice.org).

Kingsway Court may not complement its surroundings but residents don’t seem too fussed. It’s interesting how 60s developments either work really well or totally fail. High specification developments with older residents (who seem to understand better the value of community) appear to work socially. It’s a similar case at Sussex Heights and Bedford Towers. These buildings may not be much to look at but residents care for, dine with, and even sing karaoke with (Bali Brasserie on Sundays!) eachother.

“Flats available from £3,250,” states the sales brochure. Now that’s one part of the 1960s that I like the sound of.