West Pier, Brighton
Brighton & Hove
Title: West Pier, Brighton
Description: Opened in 1866 and the only Grade I listed pier, West Pier was one of the finest seaside piers in the country. Although it's fortunes have declined since that time, the pier is unique in that it is largely unaltered and the concert hall and theatre are two of the best surviving Victorian and Edwardian seaside entertainment buildings in existence.
Address: The West Pier, Kings Road, Brighton, East Sussex
Post Code: BN1 2FL
The simple but functional structure of West Pier, Brighton was designed and engineered by Eugenius Birch in 1866. Built on dozens of cast iron columns screwed into the seabed, when it first opened the pier had an open deck with six small oriental looking houses, two toll houses and glass screens at the pier head to protect visitors from the wind.
The central bandstand was added in 1875 and in the 1880's weather screens running the full length of the pier were constructed. A steamer landing platform and a large pier head pavilion were also built during this time. In 1903, the pavilion was converted to a 1000 seat theatre and in 1916 the pier was completed when a concert hall (seating 1400 people) replaced the covered bandstand.
Since that time, the structure of the pier has remained largely unaltered - today it is unrivalled for its style and proportions. Following the change in fortunes of the English seaside industry, the pier has seen many changes of use. Starting as it did as a promenade pier where the gentry of the time could see and be seen, by the First World War it had become a pleasure pier with a wide variety of attractions including steamer excursions, military bands and ballets in the theatre.
After World War Two the pier hosted a restaurant, dodgems, the 'Laughter Land' games pavilion, helter skelter, ghost train and even a miniature racing track, thus becoming a funfair pier in the process.
Sadly the fortunes of the pier turned and in 1975 it closed after years of neglect. A non-profit making organisation (The Brighton West Pier Trust) dedicated to the renovation of this Grade I listed pier has been set up. It is hoped that one day the pier will once again be open to the public.