I found this pier and its background story very tragic and pitiful indeed. With some of my colleagues, we went down to Brighton for a workshop and then before it started, I went out for a walk early in the morning along the sea shore.
This is the West Pier. It was originally opened up in 1866 and the Victorians flocked to this place. To have fun, to watch plays, to do games, eat and breathe in the famed sea air. There were pavilions, there was a concert hall, entertainers, singers, tumblers, food stalls, you name it. 1115 feet long, pretty long eh? This was built on cast iron columns which were screwed into the seabed. You can just imagine the power required to do that. But with the morning sun, it looked pretty sad.
Here is the top of the pier, with a very sad looking hut.
Standing between the pillars and observing the warning signs. At one time, there would be a decking over my head and in the evening, it would be creaking with hundreds of feet stampeding up and down the pier.
Not much left of the piers on the sea shore.
Talking about the sea shore, its not a sandy beach, but its shingle. Very uncomfortable to walk on. Very strange beach. Not surprising that the people liked to do pier things rather than beach things. In the distance, you can see the other pier, which is still functioning and has games, food stalls, retail stalls, and a mini amusement park. I kept on walking down the beach towards the shore. Its about 50 odd meters from the top of the pier down to the sea.
Till I reach the very bottom of the beach and then take some close-ups of the rusting hulk of the pier. It is full of graceful iron pillars and supports, but many places it has caved in. At one time, they used to have guided tours of the destroyed pier but no longer, it is no longer safe to go in there.
The owner of the pier tried to keep it running, but the maintenance cost became too much. It is not easy to maintain something like this in the middle of the sea. Presumably one would need some serious marine engineering work to be done. And in the English Channel, it is not a pond to be navigated, it is a full fledged sea channel with bad weather all the time. So by 1975, it was closed and access was deliberately cut off for safety reasons. Then over the past decade, bits of it started falling off.
Some pieces have literally decayed away to nothing.
Looking back at top of the pier. The pillars stand forlornly. And besides the collapse, the damn thing caught fire several times, well, arson was suspected. And because there was no link to the pier, the firemen couldn't get to it to put out the fire. Here is a good photograph of the pier on fire.
I kept on walking up and then peeked in below the pier. It was a tip, a total mess with all kinds of rot being piled up inside. The supports were rotten and rusted away.
Climbing up, I could see a photograph of how it was originally, towards the beginning of the last century, with old cars, deck chairs and people promenading up and down. Those were the days, eh?
It is now fenced off, looking very sad and miserable indeed.
Even the top of the pier is rusting away although the ironmongery is very fine and detailed.
The current owners are planning to setup a 183 meter tall observation tower as shown on the artist’s impression, but not sure how far that will get to. Anyway, one hopes this will indeed happen, but the rusting hulk of the pier is a sad reflection of man’s efforts to conquer the sea and how she always wins over man’s puny efforts. Here is the slideshow with more photographs and bigger resolutions.