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Brighton Pier's 110th year anniversary celebration

The Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Ann Norman with Anne Martin, General Manager of Brighton Pier, and some of the entertainers

This week Brighton Pier marked their 110th  anniversary with a very elegant celebration in the Palm Court Restaurant on the pier. As well as entertainment by local musical artists, an invited audience had the opportunity to enjoy a display of the pier’s history.  One of the most stunning exhibits was a collection of huge scrapbooks which contained hundreds of newspaper cuttings of the pier’s history.

Beginnings in 1891
The first screw-pile of the new Palace Pier was driven in November 1891, but progress was slow and the construction beset by problems. In 1898 Sir John Howard formed a new company which purchased, and then completed the Palace Pier, opening it to the public on 20 May 1899.

High tea was served in the elegant Palm Court Restaurant

The ‘place to be’
The Palace Pier was an instant success and was certainly ‘the place to be’. ‘Promenaders’ paid two pence each for the pleasure of walking up and down its decks and enjoy the experience. 110 years on and Brighton Pier is in the top ten of tourist attractions in this country.  People still ‘promenade’ but gone are the elegant dresses and top hats; today’s visitors are more likely to favour jeans and trainers.


Jennifer Drury, My Brighton and Hove Editor; Councillor Ann Norman; David Biesterfield, Director of the Marine Palace Pier Company and Tony Drury, MyBH discuss the history of the pier

Have you any special memories?
Do you have any special memories of the pier? Did you see any of the famous entertainers that visited the pier theatre. Have you been brave enough to try one of its scarey rides? Let us know – post a comment below.

And if you want, you can learn more about the history of the pier in our section here.

Comments about this page

  • What is it about Brighton?  I grew up there, we lived there in the 1950s and 60s. It never leaves you – no matter where you go.  I  remember avoiding the gaps on the pier, and shutting my eyes on the helter skelter when I went over the sea!

    By Trina Jaconelli (17/03/2008)
  • There was once a dance-hall right at the end of the pier. Must have been in the 50s. I remember going with friends and cousins. Always had a good time. By the end of the evening it would be very cold.

    By Iris (25/10/2009)
  • In the 1950s we swam around the Palace Pier quite a few times when we were teenagers. It was a bit of a struggle, but after we got round the end and down the other side it got a bit easier. Of course that was at low tide when we would walk a lot of the way. We didn’t fancy it at high tide, there were too many currents and too many fishermen slinging their lines out. Sometimes we would go near the end and climb up a ladder onto the pier, go across the other side, dive in and swim back. Good old days they were.

    By Mick Pierson (26/10/2009)
  • I understand what you mean about Brighton, Trina! I was born and bred there, spent my twenties and early thirties in the States, and haven’t been back in years but I miss Brighton so much! I’m stuck in Swansea doing a Ph.D, but am desperate for a visit back to Brighton; haven’t managed to get back there for seven years.

    Editor’s note: maybe as a break from your studies Andy, you could write up some memories of your ‘old home town’.  Send them to me and I will publish them for you.

    By Andy Fairbright (26/10/2009)
  • I dont no that I ever saw any famous entertainers that visited the Palace Pier when they were “entertaining”. However I did once see Dustin Hoffman on the pier as a visitor. It was in the early 1970’s probably about the time of one of his famous films, The Graduate, Straw Dogs, Midnight Cowboy etc.

    By Peter Groves (26/10/2009)
  • Back in the early to mid 1960s, my best then friend and I spent a lot of Sunday afternoons on the Palace Pier and often played the penny slot machines. It was possible to double your winnings by giving the handle a quick flick back and forward – as every other teenager seemed to know! But every penny went back in and eventually lost. I also remember some sort of building where you made your way round in complete darkness although ultra violet light picked out white clothes. We seemed to have spent hours in there – goodness only knows why.

    By Janet (26/10/2009)
  • I lived in Peacehaven as a youngster and remember many day trips to the Palace Pier. For some reason we never ventured anywhere near the West Pier. A comparison of the two in their heyday would be most welcome. Oh yeh I now live in Australia, arrived in 1966.

    By Michael Player (27/10/2009)
  • Why did they re name it ‘Brighton Pier’? What was the point? Palace Pier sounds much nicer and the name it was intended to be. If it aint broke-don’t fix it. I used to love going there and on to the paddling pool just along the front. It was a treat on school holidays in the summer.

    By Diane (29/10/2009)
  • Palace Pier it will always be!

    By David (31/10/2009)
  • Well said David.

    By Patrick Kite (01/11/2009)
  • I now live in Brighton, South Australia (and we have a sandy beach). But nothing compares with spending one’s teens in the 60’s, breaking one’s stilleto heel on the Palace Pier whilst eating a hotdog from O’Hagans. Happy memories.

    By Valerie Farrar (11/11/2009)
  • I know what you all mean about Brighton, I was also born and bred there. Have been living abroad for the last 15 years now and I still miss it like crazy especially when I am on this website.

    By Maddie (14/11/2009)
  • It will always be the Palace Pier to me, but if they wanted to change it, then just add Brighton to the front and you get the Brighton Palace Pier.

    By Jim Dorrington. (04/12/2009)
  • I worked on the pier for one summer season. I worked on the Helter Skelter and my job was to be at the top and hold the mat while the people sat on it. It was good for a fill-in job but was a bit scary some times when a crowd of guys came up who had been in the bar all night and all wanted to go down at the same time in a snake trying to hold on to each other.

    By Mike Holt (13/12/2009)
  • I do not understand why it is increasingly called Brighton Pier. As far as I can find out it’s name has always been the Palace Pier. Why has it been so belittled? What are the new owners trying to do? Please can we try and keep the original names around the town.

    By keren hancox (30/01/2010)
  • I was born and lived in Brighton till 1969 when I left for South Africa. I have been back fairly regularly to see family, it will always be the Palace Pier to me and memories of many great times had there and also on the West Pier before it was closed. I have many photos of Brighton of old and when feeling homesick, I take them out and browse through or skype the family!

    By Anne Gee nee Leach (06/03/2010)
  • I was born and lived in Brighton until 1965, then aged 15 moved to Nottingham. I wonder why so many people have moved away? I hadn’t been there for 7 years until October and the first place I went to was The Palace Pier. So many happy memories with friends, or on my own. I recall an outside bandstand at the end and I also remember that dark building with ultra violet lights as Janet does. I knew my way round in there very well even in the dark.

    By Anne Newman (29/01/2011)
  • True! Brighton is simply magic. I was a French student au pair there in the mid 80s, and much later took my husband and daughter and they simply loved it too! We cross the Channel to come back as often as we can!

    By Claudine L'Heritier (11/10/2011)
  • Following Janet’s and Anne’s comments about the dark building with the ultra violet lights ~ I remember it well as a child. Was it not part of the amusement feature called “House of Hades”? My friend Sheila’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Suthard, owned it. Loved going to the Palace Pier has a child in the early sixties. Salt air, gaps in the deck, barnacles & seaweed drying on the columns at low tide, candy floss, & fish & chips.

    By Jackie Collins Buck, Honolulu (28/04/2012)
  • I grew up in Brighton in the ’50s and remember very well both piers, the Palace Pier and the West Pier but loved the Palace Pier most of all. We used to spend whole days on the pier, loved the dodgems and the exhibition situated behind the helter skelter which had a display of famous buildings made entirely of matchsticks! Often wonder what happened to them. Happy happy childhood days

    By Chas Baynton (02/04/2013)
  • Replying to Jackie Collins Buck. Sorry I saw your post 6 years later but I’m Shelagh (Sheila) Suthard. Yes, my parents ran the House of Hades on the Palace Pier. Would be nice to hear from you –

    By Shelagh Ferreira (02/05/2016)
  • I was the percussionist/Drummer at the palace pier theatre.For 1966 Apr to Sept. A Miles Byrne production of Summer Cocktails. The reporter for Argus gave me rave review. I played the Grand Hotel few years on, two weeks before IRA Bomb. Jackie ‘Drum’ Drummond I can still be heard on Julian’s Treatment recordings. A Time Before This tour soon with exceptional Steve Warren Band, and Billkrem plus Jackie ‘Drum’Drummond Blues Band.

    By Jackie'Drum'Drummod c/o (03/01/2021)
  • Jackie “Drum” Drummond, it was an absolute joy chatting with you today whilst waiting for our cars to be fixed. Been listening to Julian’s Treatment all the way back to Brighton. All the best for Wednesday 🤞
    If you’re ever down this way then drop me a line and I’ll stand you a pint 🍻

    By David Curran (02/12/2023)

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