Brighton’s West Pier used to be situated at the southern end of Regency Square. There is little left now. The root end is fenced off for safety reasons. The iron girders that once supported the theatre at the seaward end now stand as a striking reminder of what was once there.
The West Pier was one of only two Grade 1 listed piers in the UK, the other being at Clevedon. The remains are, presumably, still protected by the listing but the ravages of time, the sea and the weather have paid no respect to that protection.
Designed by Eugenius Birch, the pier was originally built as a simple promenade; it later acquired a bandstand, then a theatre, and later still a sumptuous 1,400-seat concert hall. When it was built local residents complained that it spoiled their views of the sea.
When the pier first opened in 1866 it had cost £28,000 to build. The cost of re-building it now is not really known but figures in excess of £30 million have been mentioned. This helps to explain why there is no sign of anyone seriously wanting to take on the challenge.
The remains of the pier are now owned by the Brighton West Pier Trust. This charity is currently being kept afloat by advance rental payments from a commercial developer who is hoping to build an observation tower on the site.
The start of this major construction project is currently held up by a lack of finance. The Trust is still confident that it will go ahead. Meanwhile the root end of the pier is becoming increasingly derelict. We have tried to persuade the Trust to tidy the site up but they don’t have enough funds at present to make any serious improvements.
If you want to learn more about the West Pier Trust you can click here to go to their web site.