About the Trust

Aims of the Trust

The West Pier Trust was created in 1978. It is a charity and a limited company which owns the pier and the rights that attach to it. It is non-profit making. The objects for which the Trust is established are:

  1. to preserve and enhance for the public benefit the area comprising the Pier, the foreshore around and below it and their immediate surroundings which are hereinafter referred to as ‘the area of benefit’;
  2. to promote high standards of planning and architecture in the area of benefit;
  3. to secure the preservation protection development and improvement of features of historic interest in the area of benefit.

Initially the Trust’s aim was to restore the pier and return it to pubic use. After several near misses in the 1980s a real opportunity of achieving the restoration came with the creation of the National Lottery in 1994. The Prime Minister, John Major, quoted the pier as an example of the sort of project whose only hope of success would be via an injection of Lottery monies.

History of the Trust

In 1998 the Trust was awarded £14.2m by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the restoration of the pier. It was complicated project involving a substantial enabling development and several years of negotiations between the Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund and a series of private sector partners ensued against a background of sustained opposition from the owners of Brighton Palace Pier. Finally by 2003 all obstacles had been overcome and the pier was on the brink of restoration. In March and May 2003 two devastating arson attacks destroyed the Pavilion and Concert Hall. The pier was now almost completely destroyed and in 2004 the Heritage Lottery Fund took the difficult decision to withdraw its grant.

In 2005 the Trust recognised that with no prospect of public funding the full restoration of the pier could not be achieved. Instead it settled on looking for a solution that would combine blending preservation of the heritage of the pier with the creation of heritage for the future. The objects of the Trust allow for a new feature provided that the Trust does its best to retain as much of the heritage as is practical and financially feasible. The i360 provides that perfect solution; its exquisite design and advanced technology are considered wholly appropriate for the site – a vertical pier.

The Trust believes that now the Brighton i360 is operating there will be new interest in developing the pier itself. It would be a contemporary interpretation of the West Pier, like the Brighton i360, reflecting the high standards of design and advanced technology used by the designer of the pier, Eugenius Birch.


Anyone can become a member of the Trust. The membership fee is modest but it helps keep the organisation afloat and is an important statement of support during this transitional period.

If you would like to become a member visit our membership page.


West Pier Trust statement on Brighton i360’s planning application for Sixes Cricket to the east of the i360 beach building

  • WPT is fully supportive of Brighton i360’s endeavours to generate more income from its site and is pleased to work with them to achieve this aim.
  • WPT’s charitable objects include the promotion of high standards of architecture in the area around the West Pier. We are concerned that the proposal does not meet the high standards of design in the surrounding area and will therefore diminish its heritage value.
  • The absence of visualisations in the planning application has made it more difficult for us to evaluate fully its potential impact.
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