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Collapse and Fire

2003 was a catastrophic year for the West Pier.

On 28th March the Pavilion was destroyed in an arson attack, and then on 11th May the Concert Hall, already seriously damaged in a huge storm the previous December, was also deliberately set on fire.

English Heritage was commissioned to report on whether after such damage, the restoration was still viable. It concluded that despite the significant damage, given the wealth of salvaged material from the pier and the considerable photographic and video archive, repair and reconstruction of the pier was still viable. It was therefore bitterly disappointing that at its meeting on 28th January, the Heritage Lottery Fund decided to withdraw its funding of the project.

With the loss of lottery funding the restoration of the West Pier became impossible.  Deemed a public hazard, the burnt-out Concert Hall was removed in 2010. The  skeletal remains of The  Pavilion, however, were left to become a feature of Brighton’s seafront. Its desolate beauty makes it much discussed, wondered about and photographed. The Trust has no intention of removing the remains unless overwhelming safety issues arise. But now beyond repair, they will inevitably degenerate and be reclaimed by nature. However the Trust remains hopeful that, with the success of Brighton i360, in due course a new contemporary West Pier, reflecting the brilliance of the original, will be built.

We would welcome your photographs of this key Brighton seamark as a record of its decline and to add, where appropriate, to the website. Please send them to

West Pier fire
Collapse of the West Pier taken September 2003
Collapse of the West Pier taken September 2003
Fire in the Pavilion taken on 28th March 2003
Fire in the Pavilion taken on 28th March 2003
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