West Pier

West Pier

Pier_name= West Pier

caption= West Pier on fire in March 2003
official_name= West Pier
locale= Brighton
type= Pleasure Pier
design= Eugenius Birch
owner= West Pier Trust
open= August 51872
closed= 1975


The West Pier is a pier in Brighton, England. It was built in 1866 by Eugenius Birch and has been closed and deteriorating since 1975, awaiting renovation. It was Brighton's second pier, joining The Royal Suspension Chain Pier of 1823, and it is one of only two Grade I listed piers in the UK, the other being Clevedon Pier.

Plans by the charity the West Pier Trust, which now owns the pier, to renovate it with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, were opposed by some local residents. The local media reported that a major concern was the impact of commercial operations on the shore that were apparently required to help fund the project. The Noble brothers, owners of the Palace Pier, joined the objectors, having originally been supporters of the restoration scheme (the 1996 "Year of the Pier" was launched from the Palace Pier). Their reported point of view was that subsidised rebuilding, were it to happen, would represent unfair competition. The West Pier Trust said on 15th July 2008 that it was confident the West Pier would be rebuilt. Its long-term aim is to re-establish the structure, which has been destroyed by two fires, as a major tourist attraction along with the "Brighton Eye (i360) a futuristic observation tower. Further work on rebuilding the pier will not begin until construction is "well under way" on the i360.


The West Pier had been cut off from the shore (partly deliberately, for safety reasons) since 1975, but the West Pier trust offered regular tours of it until the structure suffered a serious partial collapse during a storm on December 29, 2002, when a walkway connecting the concert hall and pavilion fell into the sea. On January 20, 2003 a further collapse saw the destruction of the concert hall in the middle of the pier. On 28 March, 2003 the pavilion at the end of the pier caught fire. Firefighters were unable to save the building from destruction because the collapsed walkway prevented them from reaching it. The cause of the fire remains unknown. On May 11, 2003, another fire broke out, consuming most of what was left of the concert hall. The Fire re-ignited on May 12. Arson was suspected: the West Pier Trust refers to the fires as the work of "professional arsonists". On June 23, 2004 high winds caused the middle of the pier to collapse completely.

** Short video of the west pier burning
** "Problems listening to the file? See ."
** Same video in quicktime format [http://www.chriskirkland.net/mp3s/12_West-Pier-Burning.html?action=download]

Despite all these setbacks, the West Pier Trust remained adamant that they would soon begin full restoration work. Finally, in December 2004, the Trust conceded defeat, after their plans were rejected by the Heritage Lottery Fund, in part because of problems with achieving the required "matched funding" from outside sources. Subsequent plans to restore only the oldest, structural parts of the pier were eventually rejected by English Heritage. However, in September 2005 the Trust revealed in their newsletter that they were forming further plans to rebuild the original structure with help from private funding.

In December 2005 the last remaining physical structure, the "little white hut" was lost when strong winds broke it away into the sea. Ironically, when the rest of pier had been intact, the hut had been said to be in serious threat of falling into the sea; yet it was the last piece to remain.

In Spring 2006, the West Pier Trust announced a new plan to fund the restoration of the pier: a 183-metre observation tower, the i360, to be built on the West Pier promenade deck. The tower is planned to carry 100 visitors at a time to a viewing platform 150 metres above sea level. The projected cost of the tower is £15 to £20 million and it would take two to three years to build. A ticket would cost around £8 and the Trust expects around half a million paying visitors each year. The i360 attraction was due to start construction in July 2007 [http://www.westpier.co.uk/pdfs/NL_05_07.pdf] ; as of April 2008 no obvious construction work was actually visible, but according to the November 2007 newsletter [cite web|title=West Pier Trust 2007 newsletter|url=http://www.westpier.co.uk/pdfs/NL_Nov07.pdf] of the West Pier Trust, work had begun in the form of a detailed engineering appraisal of the base of the site, including drilling boreholes, inspecting the sewers and studying chalk and rock samples. The Trust has also stated that the i360 is now not likely to be operational until "early 2010".


ee also

*National Piers Society


External links

* [http://www.westpier.co.uk/ The West Pier Trust] (requires Flash), keen to "develop" the West Pier
* [http://www.westpier.org.uk/ The West Pier Dilapidation Trust] , keen "not" to "develop" the West Pier
* [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Brighton/WestPier.htm History of the West Pier and its Theatre]
* [http://www.defeatingthehacker.com/westpier A series of photos from a tour of the West Pier in 2000]
* [http://www.le.ac.uk/av/pms12/pier/pier.html Photos of the West Pier 1970s to present]
* [http://www.westpierphotos.com/loader.htm Land and underwater photos of the West Pier 1990 to present]
*cite web|url=http://www.mapofbrighton.com|title=Brighton Map

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