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| October 21, 2018

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10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About…The West Pier!

10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About…The West Pier!
Stephanie Newton

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…

Image courtesy of Tony Drury

Image courtesy of Tony Drury

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…

Credit: Ian Stannard

Credit: Ian Stannard

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…

Image via: oldstratforduponavon.com

Image via: oldstratforduponavon.com

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.

Image via mmhistory.com

Image via mmhistory.com

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…

Image via West Pier Trust

Image via West Pier Trust

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.

Image via Simplon Postcards

Image via Simplon Postcards

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.

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

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.

Credit: dailymail.co.uk

Credit: dailymail.co.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.

Credit: Simon Dack

Credit: Simon Dack

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.

Credit: Simon Armstead

Credit: Simon Armstead

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.

 

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