The End of the Pier

‘The End of the Pier’ Exhibition at the West Pier Centre from 6th July 2024. A nostalgic photographic journey. Tim Rudman FRPS

‘After being declared unsafe in 1975, the Victorian West Pier at Brighton was closed for twenty-five years. Cut off from land, it was abandoned to the elements, the pigeons and the sea birds that made it their home. In the winter months they were joined by tens of thousands of starlings.

I have memories of being taken on the pier in my childhood growing up in Brighton and Hove in the ‘40s and ‘50s and I later watched its slow decline with sadness. These pictures are from a larger photographic pictorial essay on the pier, which I explored in detail until it collapsed into the sea. The remaining structure was subsequently burned down by boat-borne arsonists in 2003.

Although aspects of the now lost interiors have been documented in this work, this was a secondary objective to portraying the emotions evoked by revisiting this icon of my childhood. Inside, the abundant ever-present guano gave evidence of its current residents alongside fading memorabilia of bygone times and pastimes.

The birds feature prominently in this work, not just because they had taken over residency of the pier, but also because on accessing this derelict and rather spooky structure I had instant flashbacks to Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, which I had seen as a youngster in an adjacent seafront cinema in 1963. On leaving the cinema that evening, many of the audience were unnerved by the suddenly malevolent-looking birds outside the cinema, watching them silently from their higher vantage points. This moment suddenly and unexpectedly returned to me as a flashback the day I first entered the this now derelict pier to make these pictures and found myself being mutely observed from every angle.

The prints are handmade silver gelatine prints produced chemically in the traditional darkroom. All have been toned with various combinations of archival toners, mostly based on Gold, Selenium, Sulphides and Polysulphides. These toners provide the highest degree of archival permanence available.’


Tim Rudman

Tim Rudman has an international reputation as a fine art photographer and darkroom printer working exclusively with film and wet processing.

He has written four best-selling books on printing techniques and has been exhibited worldwide. His prints are held in permanent and private collections in many countries, including the British Royal Family and The RPS Permanent Collection, housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.

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