A potted history
The West Pier was built between 1863 and 1866 by the Brighton West Pier Company and designed by the doyen of pier engineers, Eugenius Birch of Westminster.
The original construction
Consisting of iron screw piles which support iron columns – with iron girderwork supporting wooden decking, it originally only had two square kiosks at the entrance, two octagonal kiosks with minarets in the centre and four more octagonal kiosks at the corners of the large pier head platform.
Later additions to the pier
Later additions were the central windshield in 1890; the pavilion at the head in 1893 (designed to seat 1,400 people and converted into a theatre in 1903); the concert hall in the centre in 1916 and the raised entrance at the shore end in 1932.
World War II precautions
The pier was closed during the Second World War, and was cut in two to prevent an enemy landing. When it reopened, the the theatre was converted into an amusement arcade.
A famous film
Scenes in the very famous film ‘Oh! What a Lovely War’ were shot on the West Pier.
A listed building in 1970
By 1970, the owners of the pier were seaking to demolish part of the structure. The pier was listed to protect it, but the head of the pier was sealed off as dangerous. The pier was closed completely to the public in 1975.
Plans for restoration
There have been several plans to restore the Pier, and it became the only Grade I listed pier in the country in 1982. Some basic restoration work has been completed, but none of the development schemes have prevented the continuing decay of the pier. A kiosk fell into the sea in 1984, and the pier has been closed to tours on safety grounds. In December 2002, the concert hall slumped into the sea when a temporary walkway collapsed. Despite this, a major restoration of the Pier is still being planned.