Sunday, 27 February 2011

Pier for Sale

Condition - Used,  in need of a loving Home
For Scraps and Parts
Further Details -

Designed by the great Eugenius Birch, the West Pier of Brighton has been standing strong since 1866, taking 3 years to complete at a cost of £27,000.00, and being officially opened by the then Mayor of Brighton, Henry Martin, on October 6th, 1866.

When it was first erected, the local residents at Regency Square took an instant dislike to it, as they didn't like the square shaped toll houses at its entrance, but over the years grew to love it. It originally also housed 6 octagonal kiosks on the main pier platform, 2 of which were in the centre, and the others on each corner.

It featured many attractions for its visitors, including a skull of a whale washed up on shore in January 1882, and a miniature cannon fired by the sun!

Alterations began to the pier in 1890, adding the main central windshield, and later on the pier-head was widened, and a large pavilion erected. It had a capacity to seat 1,400 visitors and put on a variety of shows to entertain. The Pavilion was then converted to a theatre in 1903, and many more alterations added, including a concert hall at the centre in 1916, and for easy access, a raised entrance at the shore end in 1932.

Fast forward 144 years, and this is all that is left of the once majestic Pier, conveniently located at the bottom of my road. Sadly, the pier closed on September 30, 1975. First signs of the ruin it would one day become, a kiosk fell into the sea in 1984. There were many attempts to reopen it, and grants were offered by English Heritage Trust and the National Heritage trust, and work was expected to start, after the National Herritage Lottery Fund accepted to grant the West Pier Trust a further £14.5million, in early 2004 and to finish by November 2005, despite legal action from Nobels, owners of the neighbouring Palace Pier. Sadly, all hope was lost after 2 horrendous storms, 2 suspicious fires, withdrawal of support, and crucially, withdrawal of funding.

Today, we stumbled across a final clear out of the remains of the once glamorous and beautiful West Pier. The base of the raised entrance hall was the location, it having been fenced up as long as I can remember, old lost and forgotten parts of the pier being stored within, slowly rusting away...

Not the most glamorous of locations I must admit, the pigeoens have well and truely made this their home, but look at all of it!

I got talking to some lovely older gent, who told me stories about when his mother used to come for tea dances in the great theatre hall, and how he remembered visiting it regularly when he was younger. That's what really brings all this alive, when you hear stories from those who remember it.

I'd love to have taken home my own bit of Brighton History, but sadly, anyting with a 'West Pier' tag seems to go for mucho dollar these days, so off we trotted, content in the thought we were lucky enough to have had a chance to play among that which will one day be no more.

Much Love from Brighton



(big thanks to the brilliant 'new encyclopedia of Brighton', best christmas gift! Brilliant read after a day exploring the city)

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