10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About…The West Pier!
Another iconic Brighton landmark, even when it’s no longer functioning for its original purpose, is Brighton’s West Pier. We’ve done a little digging and found a few facts we think you just might not know about it…
1. It’s Just 33 Years Older Than The Palace Pier
Opening in 1866, the West Pier may seem much older than the (still open) Palace Pier but it’s really only 33 years its senior! Maybe it’s just because the West Pier fell into disrepair but it’s not quite as old as some may think…
2. It Was Constructed During A Pleasure Pier Boom
There was a boom in the building of pleasure piers in the UK in the 1860s, which happens to be when the West Pier was constructed and opened. It was designed to bring tourism to Brighton and I think it’s fair to say that it worked…
3. Footfall Peaked In 1918-1919
After the construction of the concert hall on the pier in 1916, tourism peaked in the following years with up to 2 million visitors coming between 1918 and 1919.
4. After World War II Its Popularity Declined
Things went downhill for the old West Pier after World War II, with footfall dropping significantly. The concert hall that had previously been so popular was replaced with funfairs and tea rooms in a bid to generate more tourism but clearly it didn’t work…
5. Nobody Wanted To Buy The Pier
The pier that had once so popular was forced to be sold due to the local owners filing for bankruptcy, however nobody wanted it so ultimately it had to be closed. Since then, the West Pier fell into disrepair and has only diminished more and more over the subsequent years.
6. There Were Plans To Renovate It…
After its closure, the West Pier Trust took on ownership of the old pleasure pier and there were even plans to renovate it at one point. Unfortunately, proposed schemes were opposed by some residents as well as owners of the Palace Pier claiming ‘unfair competition’. Since then, the pier has gradually collapsed more and more throughout the 21st century, with major parts collapsing in 2002 as well as fires in 2003. Now, the English Heritage organisation have declared it beyond repair.
7. It Was The First Pier To Be Grade I Listed
Despite its derelict appearance now, the West Pier was actually the first of its kind to be declared Grade I listed in Britain in 1982. It’s now the most at risk Grade I listed building in the UK.
8. The West Pier Trust Bought It For £100
Forming in an effort to save the pier, The West Pier trust bought the dismantled attraction from the council for just £100 in 1983.
9. The National Lottery Pledged £14m To Save It
In a hope to restore the old pier, The National Lottery pledged an impressive £14m in the hopes of restoring what once was. Unfortunately, the West Pier Trust struggled to find a partner to help with the restoration, so once more, nothing was done.
10. It Was A Film Star!
Having appeared as the backdrop in many films, the West Pier was the star of many a show including Oh! What A Lovely War and Carry On Girls. It was also a prominent feature in the French comedy, La Course à l’échalote.