Brighton Palace Pier Guide

Brighton Palace Pier Guide


The original design by R. St George Moore for the pier was rejected by Brighton Corporation in favour of a shorter design as funding was not available to build it as originally intended. The pier was finally opened on 18 July 1896 by the Prince and Princess of Wales, Albert Edward and Alexandra. While officially titled "Brighton Marine Palace and Pier", it was commonly referred to as the "West Pier" (as the other pier, now called Palace Pier, was known as the "East Pier").

Construction began the following year and was completed by February 1894 at a cost of £100,000 (£4, Brighton Town Press ( 9 million in 2018). Early workings were experimental and used novel construction techniques. Unusually for contemporary piers, it was built on land—unlike The West Pier which was built upon wooden foundations in the sea, and the latest one (Hove Landward Lifeboat Station Pier to the west), which is built upon concrete piles in the mud half a mile from Brighton's seafront.

The pier was built of concrete and consisted of two main parts, the main pier head and the walkway. The foundation stone for the main pier head was laid in 1899, but construction was halted at that point until 1903 as there was some re-designing and financial problems. The pier head was completed in June 1904 at a cost of £100,000, designed by local partners Frederick Francis Jacomb-Hood and Montague Eisen. When you are looking for a fabulous evening out in Brighton, you need somewhere fabulous to eat, drink and dance.

Cultural References

The most iconic scene of the pier was featured in a popular music video for the D:Ream song "Things can only get better". The video was directed by Michael Coulson and is set in a ravaged post-apocalyptic City. It shows the band playing while standing on the south side, with a crowd of people facing the sea and cheering. The north side is shown as being partially destroyed by a fire and covered in graffiti.

Groups of friends visiting the pier to see if they can be more daring than previous visitors have a long tradition in Brighton, and are often documented by local photography groups such as Brighton in Pictures. The Lanes are an area full of eateries, bars and clubs, where you can find anything from tapas to burgers to delicious gourmet desserts. In this guide, I am going to take a look at the best pubs in Brighton for different categories of people.


In the early years, the pier was occasionally affected by fires but none significantly affected its appearance. Its popularity increased when, in 1926, it became the main entry point for visitors arriving by train at Brighton Marina station on the then newly-opened Dyke railway line from Crawley. In 1927, in order to alleviate congestion at the entrance caused by the closure of part of West Street to vehicular traffic, an amusement arcade was opened in an architectural style which complemented that of the pier.

By 1931, 150,000 people a year were using this entrance as well as 80,000 who travelled there by boat. There is also a pier entrance at Hove Lawns. Work on the pier continued but in 1893, when it was nearly complete, the West Pier was destroyed by a storm. This led to the comparative failure of the West Pier Diving Company (competing with the Brighton Marine Palace and Pier) when wealthy tourists stayed away out of fears for their safety.

The company went bankrupt and the pier was taken over by the Foreshore Committee as trustee of Sir James Pilkington, chairman of Brighton Corporation Water Department. The pier was constructed in a series of stages and took three years to complete. The first section extended 900 feet out to sea, ending just beyond the line of the low tide. A further 300 feet were added by 1892, another 450 by 1893 when the pier was extended north.

It was designed by R. St George Moore, who added an additional 300 feet to the original plans in 1892, and then another 1,671 feet in 1893 extending the pier nearly a mile out to sea. The original design envisaged the pier extending for a mile-and-a-half; with six dressing rooms at the end. The contractors were Messrs. Walter Scott & Sons of Newcastle upon Tyne. There were many delays in construction. The original contractor went into liquidation due to bad weather and the initial foundations had to be rebuilt twice.


Bardon Road Pier was designed by Eugenius Birch, who also designed the adjacent Grade I-listed West Pier. Its construction took place between 1866 and 1870, and it opened in June 1869. The Brighton railway company gave permission for the pier to be built in return for a share of the profits, but it "never received anything". Around £50,000 was spent building the pier, which included an entrance hall and a large ballroom on the top deck; this had 300 seats, and could be used either as a banqueting hall or a concert room.

It was roofed with glass at a cost of £2,000. There were two platforms; one on top of. The first pier was opened in July 1823, at the start of a long craze for pleasure piers. The second burned down in 1863, so it was replaced by an amusement pier designed by Eugenius Birch, who also remodelled the original structure. This south-facing pier survived (albeit with the loss of its roof after a bad storm in 1850), but it had closed—probably at the start of the First World War — and was demolished around 1920.

Much of its structure was incorporated into other buildings, including one of Brighton's early cinema buildings where films were shown from 1914. The following May, after an absence of over 20 years, the pier was illuminated by a display of light bulbs and in September that year the Royal Pier was reopened as a restaurant and entertainment venue, operated by Whitbread under the Vaux brand. Restaurants and bars (including the Starlight Room) were established in the adjacent bathing pavilion buildings.

BH Live took over operation in 2009 after Whitbread moved its operations to the Brighthelm Centre. In May 2010, controversial plans to convert the pier into a bar with a fish restaurant on the ground floor and flats above were approved by Brighton and Hove City Council. The conversion of the structure, costing £2 million, began in August 2012. Opened in September 2013 as Komedia, it contains 219 flats—181 owned by the housing association Purplebricks and 38 privately—a 40-seat cinema, a bar restaurant, and a rooftop swimming pool.

Built in 1867 to a design by William Ward of London, and engineered by Henry Lovatt of Brighton. The pier was extended to its present length in 1937–38 by the Glen Company, at a cost of £220,000 (£11. 64 million as of 2016) to designs by R. Stanley Heaps. It is believed that originally there were steps from the pilothouse down into the sea for swimming but that they have been filled in.

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Eva Cloud

Author at Brighton Town Press

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