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Working on the Rifle Range

West Pier undated photograph
Royal Pavilion and Museums: Brighton and Hove

Working from 8am to 10pm

I worked on the Rifle Range on the West Pier in the mid 1950s at weekends and school holidays. I worked with another boy who lived near me. We started work at about 8am and worked until the pier shut about 10pm in the summer. The rifle range was slung under the pier and the steps to it were opposite. I think it was a theatre, but I am not sure. When business was slow we were told to stand at the top of the stairs and shout “Come on down – ten shots a pound“.

Tipsy holidaymakers with rifles

I remember our main customers were Londoners down on a day trip. There used to be dozens of London Transport double-decker buses parked along Madeira Drive at the Black Rock area every weekend and Bank Holiday. By the time the visitors reached us on the West Pier they had visited most pubs on the way and were ‘three sheets to the wind’. Of course no-one thought about health and safety then, and we would give them a 2.2 rifle loaded with ten shots! You sure used to have your wits about you. We were always surprised when there were never any bodies of bathers washed up on the beach, because of the number of times shots were fired through the decking into the sea underneath.

Do you remember?

Did you visit the West Pier? What about the rifle range – ever try your luck there? If you can share your memories of those times with us, please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • I remember it well. I visited the range and shot at a target getting a fairly high score. The man in charge said ‘that was very good, buy another 10 shots and shoot a moving duck with every shot and I will give you £1. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had just passed my RAF marksman test a few weeks earlier!

    By Barrie Searle (10/10/2013)
  • In the 50s my grandmother used to take me to see the Mannequin Show in the Restaurant. I think this was presented by Plummers, the department store in Western Road. I would have been about 11 years old and was so impressed to see these smart models showing the clothes while Nanny and I had tea served by waitresses.

    By Janet Welch (nee Hiscock) (27/10/2013)
  • I went there a number of times. Behind the targets were steel girders hidden under black sheets as far I can remember. We tended to shoot at the girders to see who could get the best ricochet – many times the bullets came buzzing back just missing us.  Crazy but none seemed that bothered.

    By Charles Clarke (26/10/2015)
  • I was interested to read the comments about the rifle range on this site. My relatives owned Hyatt’s Amusements and also had a cafe under the arches and a restaurant on the front. The restaurant was called Hyatt’s with a sign showing a high hat (get it?). These are memories from my late mother who worked for the Hyatt’s and Eileen Leach in the 1930’s.

    By Joan (20/10/2019)
  • I do recall a rifle range at the Palace Pier on the left hand side which I used a few times in the 80s.

    By Christopher Wyer (15/12/2019)

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