West Pier

West Pier



It is believed to have been the first pleasure pier in the United Kingdom. The West Pier was originally 1,000 feet (305 m) long and had an elegant pavilion at the end, which housed a restaurant, a concert room and rooms for horticultural shows. The original pier boasted solid cast iron standards of Corinthian design made by Ransomes of Ipswich. An extension was added in the early 1870s which extended the promenade by another 700 feet (213 m).

In 1873, a storm destroyed the concert hall and two years later, the pier began to lean dangerously because of shifting sand underneath it, more about plumbing with Brighton and Hove Life (brightonandhovelife.co.uk). By 1885, its deterioration was such that it was sold to property developers with demolition imminent. It was built between February and September 1866 at a cost of £12,000. The main structure was 1,280 feet (390 m) long and the pierhead was 490 feet (150 m) long. The overall width of the pier at its widest point was 60 feet (18 m).

A bandstand was 120 feet (37 m) in diameter. On the west side were two cafes, one with an observation platform, and a concert hall that could accommodate 2,500 people. On the pierhead were a tea garden, paddling pool and ornamental gardens with trees and shrubs. At the pierhead there was a bathing establishment called "Palace of Pain", which had been designed by Eugenius's brother-in. The West Pier opened in June 1866 and was formally inaugurated on 5 July.

Beside the promenade, it had a concert hall, a restaurant/banqueting hall, an esplanade café or "Lido" and slot machines. It was 2,048 feet (632 m) long and consisted of two 3-section truss spans linked by a shorter central span and braced by lattice girders. In 1867 a concert given at the pier by the violinist Eugène Ysaÿe with Joseph Szigeti on piano was attended by Tristan Bernard. The concert proved so popular that it had to be repeated at His Majesty's Theatre in London.

The pier was built in the centre of the Brighton Marine Palace and Aquarium, a complex which also included a concert hall, gardens, ballrooms and terraces. Construction began in 1863. The West Pier soon became one of the most popular places in Brighton with over 350,000 visitors each year. They came to ride on the giant wheel (designed by James Gale), to see the animals in the adjacent aquarium, or just to walk along the pier's pierrot promenade .

The West Pier was designed by Eugenius Birch, director of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The pier was a cast-iron lattice structure. It consisted of three deck levels (varying in height) with a timber promenade encircling the upper two levels as well as glass railings and a roof. The pier offered views of Cannes and even Spain on clear days. At its height, it extended 1,479 feet (446 m) into the English Channel.

Restoration attempts

The pier was closed to the public in 1999 due to an alarming tilt.  The city council and English Heritage carried out a lengthy repair project which was estimated to cost £21 million. Much of the original structure had become rotten and waterlogged, and this had to be replaced. This work took almost 10 years before reopening on 13 June 2010. The pier became known as the i360 (a name given by the sponsor of rebuilding work, fischer).

It opened with a museum which tells the history of Brighton Pier with interactive games and displays. The development also includes a restaurant, shops, toilets, a bar, training rooms for dance schools and music productions, some luxury apartments, a conference room, and space for holiday. In the late 1980s, Richard Holme, a consultant to the council who specialises in industrial heritage, began work on a feasibility study to restore the pier and convert it into a museum of industrial heritage.

However, this plan was opposed by local newspapers and business interests supporting the Marina project. A stakeholder group called Brighton Pier Restoration was formed in 2011.   In June 2011, Brighton and Hove City Council announced public consultation on options for renovating the Pier Pavilion. The pier was "restored" in the early-1980s by a firm of marine architects led by David B. Clark and Terry Alcock, but such was the poor quality of the work that it lasted only until 1984.

In 1990, a trust consisting of local business people and representatives from Brighton Council took over, aiming to restore and rebuild the pier, but later abandoned the project. Various groups expressed an interest in restoring the pier as an attraction before it was eventually purchased by Regalian Properties in 1995. Another bid to start restoration was made in 1987. Over £1 million was raised by public subscription, but a dispute over ownership of the pier led to its 1983 listing being overturned in 1992 by the High Court .

The pier owners applied for planning permission to convert it into a shopping mall and nightclub, but the council's planning committee rejected this in 1994. In October 1990, an unsuccessful rescue plan was hatched by business entrepreneur Neil Holding MBE. He planned to have funfair rides on the pier and shops and restaurants in the pavilion, but at nearly £7 million it was too expensive. His plan collapsed after a local businessman withdrew his promised backing of about £1 million.

19th century

The West Pier has become a sad symbol of Brighton's decline, the cause of which has remained in dispute since its demise. Unprecedented pressure caused by endless storms and fierce tides led to several pier collapses between 1854 and 1924; the most devastating was in October 1902 when a storm tide carried away 13 arches and damaged seven more. In 1907, after this most recent collapse, the West Pier Trustees spent £12,000 on masonry repairs to the central pavilion.

In 1910, a policy of free entry was instituted, but this was abandoned after an influx of sightseers caused "intolerable congestion" at weekend services. Constructed using cast iron with a brick superstructure, the West Pier was constructed at an estimated cost of £59,400 (equivalent to £6. 9 million today), and opened in June 1866. The pier's original owners were Eugenius Birch, Charles Green, George A. Barnett, Joseph A. Barnett and Michael W. Bird. Eugenius Birch, a prominent architect who also designed Brighton's Grand Hotel, built the pier's stomach-like entrance structure and first-floor concert room.

The entrance building is considered one of the defining images of Brighton. The West Pier was completed and opened in June 1866, to the designs of Eugenius Birch. He had already designed an iron pier at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1863. The pier was constructed from wooden piles, each containing a 'T'-shaped socket into which the piles were hammered with a mallet. The piles were then fixed with nails to cross beams. These were topped by a deck board walkway that ran between the top of the sea defences.

The pier was originally furnished with rails and wooden seats, but these were removed. The West Pier was constructed during a boom in pleasure pier building in the 1860s, during which 22 new piers were erected across Britain. It was designed by architect Eugenius Birch as a place for seaside visitors to enjoy fresh sea air. To enhance this leisure purpose, Birch deliberately made the pier longer than usual. At 1,919 feet (580 m) long, it extended more than 1⁄ 2 mile (0.

8 km) into the English Channel . It opened as the West Pier Pavilion in 1866 but was almost immediately rebuilt following a storm that destroyed all but one of the arches. The most distinctive part of the structure's present appearance, the cast iron fountains, were added in 1867. The 50 fountains are thought to be one of Europe's largest collections of cast iron fountains and consist of dolphins, conch shells and fish-like creatures.

The structure was originally slated to be named "Brighton Aquatic Palace and Floating Casino", but shortly before its unveiling the name was changed to Brighton West Pier, although there is no record of this ever being used. This may have been because the pier was built in a location that falls within the parish of New Shoreham rather than Brighton. That’s why I want to hear from you. ---------.

20th century

The pier became very popular in the early 20th century under the ownership of Harry Rowland and Neil McWilliams, who turned it into a major attraction by charging two pence per ride on a motor boat. The pier was sold to George Ede in 1923. From 1923 to 1930, a passenger lift ran from the end of the pier onto Lake Windermere. The baths featured regular performances from stars such as Danny La Rue and Morecambe and Wise.

. Fifty years later, the lifeboat disaster of 1943 killed eight crew members from the RNLB Alfred Albert Williams (ON 1140), a Cromer partial Dutch galliot. Elsewhere, ten bodies were found washed up on the beach after a Flotilla Atlantic convoy was attacked by German aircraft on 7 March 1942. The pier was also affected by fishing, and between 1947 and 1960 there were 55 boats lost or damaged. There were also a significant number of human losses in the 19th and 20th centuries - eleven died there in the period 1851 to 1861 alone.

Decline and damage

Although the pier was popular with tourists, it had deteriorated so much that it was becoming structurally unsound. The deterioration accelerated following the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 as local residents mistook falling pieces of the facade for falling debris, and reported them to the police (leading to the erection of "police divers only" warning signs along the coast).  In 2003, a southerly gust caused by a low pressure system generated by a nearby front damaged the pier's roof.

The pier was sold in 2002, and although a well-received renovation project was undertaken in 2003, the trust’s maintenance budget was exhausted by August 2004. A further effort to secure funding led to a brief reopening to visitors in 2005, but this proved unsustainable and access to the pier from the shore was removed for safety reasons in November of that year. A section collapsed on 26 January 2006. The pier is featured in several well-known photographs, including one of Brighton lifeboat crew rescuing four people during a gale on 30 November 1911.

  The photograph was taken by Brighton photographer Herbert Cardew . In the 1970s the pier inspired the name for Brighton's then leading rock venue, the West Pier Pavilion. The first accidental death in the twentieth century occurred on New Year's Eve 1901, when a drunken sailor fell from an anchored Royal Navy vessel into the harbour. The pier was washed out on 31 August 1938 after a large storm hit the Island, and a temporary structure of timbers and steel girders was erected.