Chronology of the West Pier

Construction starts, engineer Eugenius Birch (1818-1884)

14th July 1863

Construction starts, engineer Eugenius Birch (1818-1884)

West Pier Opens

28th July 1866

Pier opened by Mayor (Henry Martin). Cost £27,000. Length1115 ft. Two square kiosks at entrance; two octagonal kiosks with marinets at centre; four octagonal kiosks at corners of pier head platform. Also on platform: windshields and rotunda screen. Lamp columns decorated with entwined serpents placed around perimeter and lit by gas. Motif said to derive from Royal Pavilion music room.

Pier Head Widened

22nd July 1893

The pier head widened and a large pavilion built, to be used first as a 1400 seat concert hall.

Chain Pier Destroyed

8th August 1896

Chain Pier (located close to the site of the Palace Pier) destroyed by a storm. Wreckage driven into West Pier causing £6000 of damage. Landing stage constructed to cater for steamer excursions.

Pavilion converted into a theatre with seating for 1000 people

22nd July 1903

Concert Hall Built

23rd July 1916

Pier widened further at centre and Concert Hall built. The completion of the Concert Hall marked the end of the half century of building the West Pier. There were no other significant additions after this date although there were many subsequent changes in the use of the pier.

Highest ever recorded figure of 2,074,000 paying visitors

11th July 1919

Pier closed for security reasons

22nd July 1939


22nd July 1943

In readiness for D-Day, anti-personnel devices cleared by Captain Ken Revis and Sargent Gordon Marnoch, of Royal Engineers bomb disposal. Both soldiers survive serious injuries from explosions on the pier. Until his death in 2001, the blinded Ken Revis serves as a West Pier Trust Board member. Blasts also destroys a kiosk which is later replaced by a helter skelter.

Oh, What a Lovely War!

22nd July 1968

Pier used as location for the film “Oh, What a Lovely War!” directed by Richard Attenborough.

Grade II Listing

23rd July 1969

AVP seeks permission to demolish the southern end. Pier made Grade II* to protect it.

Entire pier closed to the public for safety reasons

23rd July 1975

Crown Estate Commissioners sell the pier to the Trust for £100

23rd July 1983

15th September. Restored root end reopened

23rd July 1987

November. The National Lottery created

23rd July 1994

HLF approves a grant of £14.2m towards the restoration of the pier

23rd July 1998

£1.2m Design & Development phase of work begins

23rd July 2002

European Commission clears legal challenge and HLF reactivates project, £1.2m Design & Development phase of work begins. Extensive public consultation takes place on BWPT/St Modwen enabling development proposals.

Partial collapses of Concert Hall

23rd July 2003

29th Dec/20th Jan partial collapses of Concert Hall. 26th Feb Brighton & Hove City Council grants planning permission for BWPT/St Modwen enabling development proposals. Weeks away from the start of the pier’s restoration in March and May arson attacks destroy the Pavilion and Concert Hall.

HLF withdraws funding

23rd July 2004

HLF withdraws its funding for the restoration project.

Marks Barfield Architects proposes i360 for West Pier root end

17th August 2005

British Airways i360’s contemporary design and advanced technology, together with the reinstatement of the pier’s tollbooths in their original positions provide a perfect celebration of the site’s heritage whilst also looking to the future. A vertical pier which doesn’t preclude the possibility of a new sea-based West Pier in the future.

Planning permission granted for i360

10th August 2006

11th October 2006, unanimous approval for i360 scheme

Construction of i360 begins

23rd July 2014

2014 After years of frustrating delay owing to the global financial downturn, i360 funding finally in place. Construction of the new attraction began in June

British Airways i360 Opens

23rd July 2016

4th August Brighton & Hove’s new attraction opens to the public

West Pier Centre opens in a renovated arch on West Pier Piazza, east of i360.

16th February 2017

The piazza celebrates the West Pier and Eugenius Birch’s achievement with a golden spiral of original West Pier columns. At its eastern end WPT’s restored and reconstructed Kiosk will be sited. The only surviving complete West Pier structure and the world’s oldest pier building, it will be repurposed to tell the story of the West Pier and to host community activities.

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