The derelict West Pier Brighton
Canon EOS1000D RAW file using ND8 filter processed in Topaz Adjust in Photoshop CS5.
The Pier was designed and engineered by Eugenius Birch to attract visitors and survive in the hostile environment of the seashore. Built in 1866, it was a simple and functional structure built out from the sea using dozens of cast iron threaded columns screwed into the seabed and strengthened by a lattice of ties and girders that provide the necessary strength to support the promenade deck whilst allowing seas to pass harmlessly through.
Originally the West Pier had an open deck with only six small ornamental houses of oriental design, two toll houses and glass screens at the pier head to protect visitors from the wind and sun. In 1875 a central bandstand was added. In the 1880′s weather screens the full length of the pier, steamer landing stages and a large pier head pavilion were constructed.
The final building, completed in 1916, was a graceful concert hall. The result is seaside architecture at its finest, designed to attract and entertain holiday-makers with all the pomp and frippery that is the essence of the English seaside resort. The pier is unique in being largely unaltered since that time, its proportions and style are unrivalled and its concert hall and theatre are two of the best surviving Victorian and Edwardian seaside entertainment buildings.
A huge storm on 29th December 2002 resulted in the dramatic collapse of the south east corner of the Concert Hall.
On 28th March 2003 the Pavilion was destroyed in an arson attack, and on 11th May 2003 the Concert Hall also was burnt out deliberately.
English Heritage was commissioned to report on whether after such damage, the restoration was still viable. In December 2003, in a detailed report, English Heritage concluded that despite the significant damage, given the wealth of salvaged material from the pier and the considerable photographic and video archive, repair and reconstruction of the pier was still viable. It was therefore bitterly disappointing that in its meeting on 28th January, the Heritage Lottery Fund decided to withdraw its funding of the project.
With the loss of lottery funding the West Pier will now never be restored to look as it did in its prime. However, the Trust remains hopeful that one day a new West Pier will be built reflecting, in contemporary design, the grandeur of the old pier.