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bits and pieces on Brighton and thee beyond…..

West Pier

Posted by Sara on March 1, 2009

Piers, Proms and Palaces; The West Pier and Brighton Seafront Story


We love the West Pier! Even in its current state of ancient, delapidated decrepitude it is a magnificent and magical structure. Last Sunday 21st February we were lucky enough to go on a free taster tour of the West Pier and seafront promenade, organised by the Brighton West Pier Trust.

It was a beautiful sunny day (for a change!) and our guide for the tour was Geoffrey Mead. The tour lasted about and hour and a half, during which we learnt about the architecture and stories behind Briton’s most famous pier and of seaside piers in general.

Construction on the West Pier commenced Easter Monday 1864 and was designed and engineered by Eugenius Birch. Looking across its rusted shell outlined against the ocean’s horizon, you can really appreciate the beautiful symmetry of the structure which is all the more remarkable when you learn all the pylons were placed by eye and put in by hand.


The main purpose of the Pier was to see and be seen and throughout the 1800’s and early 1900’s various structures were added to enhance this Victorian catwalk. As we made our way along the seafront to the Brighton Fishing museum, we learnt more about Brighton’s transient population and fishing heritage; a town that has evolved from a nocturnal culture built upon tidal patterns and worked by the moon, unlike its more heliocentric, agriculturally based neighbours.


The story behind the West Pier’s decline also provides a fascinating insight into changing fortunes of the British seaside and as we finished up in the Fishing Museum we were told more about the future plans for the Pier, including the i360 and restoration options. This still continues to be a contentious issue, and for another side of the story click here.


There was an opportunity to ask questions at the end and to find out more about the work of the West Pier Trust. Our guide’s enthusiasm and knowledge of Brighton’s geography and the Pier in particular really brought its history to life. This particular walk was a one off but from March 8th 2009 tours will be taking place every Sunday at 11am. Tickets will cost £5.


One Response to “West Pier”

  1. […] opened in 1872, the Aquarium was designed by Eugenius Birch, designer of Brighton’s West Pier, and it’s a beautiful example of Victorian Gothic splendour. Add to this some beautiful […]

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