It looks like an enormous climbing frame or a deserted oil rig. Its desolate magnificence makes it almost a folly especially as it is marooned just off the Brighton shore. But what is left of the grand West Pier at Brighton is also something of a metaphor for modern life. Not surprisingly it is the most photographed image (see link) of this bustling seaside resort. Which has become the gay capital of Britain (with all the creativity that entails)and has the only council and MP wearing Green.
West Pier was Built by the wonderful Eugenius Birch the Indian railway engineer who built 14 piers around Britain in the Victorian hey day. With its theatre and reputation it was the star of the South Coast. However in modern times the pier suffered the fate of the English sea side resort as its customers fled to warmer and cheaper holidays in Spain and elsewhere. It fell into disrepair. By 1975 it was closed to the public. Bad weather and fires did more damage.
Of Birch’s structures the most notable standing are at Eastbourne and Bournemouth.
In the meantime a Trust was set up to try and save and rebuild the pier. All their plans were objected to by local businesses (fearing extra rates) and competition from a newly created pier. Not least from those running the other standi.ng Palace Pier. More fires took place while these discussions were going back wards and forwards. There is a suspicion that some of the fires that finally did for the pier were started by professional arsonist working for local businesses.
The Trust finally gave up and has now invested heavily the idea of building the i-360 on its site. This will be a large 150 meter high platform(as seen in towns like Toronto etc) and built by the team that have been so successful with the London Eye. With views along the coast and of the South Downs this could become another great attraction for the town.