Dave Lawrence
Dave Lawrence - Author of Mad About Brighton.

10 Things You Didnt Know About Brighton Pier

10 Things You Didnt Know About Brighton Pier

1. Its Official Name Is Brighton Marine Palace and Pier

The Brighton Palace Pier is the last surviving place along the historic chain of piers, which was once a common sight along the British waterfront. It received Grade II listed status in 1983, and it was redeveloped a decade later, exactly 100 years after it first opened to the public. And now, the pier is home to a range of rides and attractions, restaurants, shops, and an amusement arcade. There are also two museums at the pier: The Brighton Toy and Model Museumand the Brighton History Centre.

The Pier is over 100 years old and was opened on 12th May 1899, Mad About Brighton (madaboutbrighton.co.uk). The £10,000 pier made of iron and steel had been built to enable boats to dock at the beach much easier giving it the name Marine Palace since visitors were expecting a palace-like edifice (anyone want to blame The Prince of Wales for that one?). Its red stage box and bandstand make it easy to spot as do its two pavilions which we'll mention in a minute.

The pier is known as the Palace Pier since it was built in 1899. It was then renamed in 1990 as Brighton Pier by owner David Gundlach, but reverted to Palace Pier in 2016 because of a dispute with an entertainment firm called Palace Entertainment. Palace Entertainment argued that it had trademarked the name and licensed its use to the pier's owners. The pier is around 541 feet (164m) long and has an estimated height of 150 feet (45m).

It's also the largest pleasure pier in the UK and among the top ten in Europe. Few other piers have a length where its sections alternate between stone or timber, which is another unique feature of Brighton Pier. If you check out a map of Brighton youll see that Palace Pier is actually just to the west of Brighton Pier - well actually its the western end of the Palace Pier . So how does it come to be called Palace Pier, rather than Brighton Pier like its sister site?.

2. It Cost 27,000 To Build

Built over a hundred years ago for the princely sum of £45,000, Brighton Palace Pier cost a whopping �27,000 (That is over $120,000 in todays money!). The pier was built by Frank Matcham who was best known for designing over 100 theaters around the UK. It would be another decade before electric lighting was installed and so gas lamps were used to light up the pier instead. This meant that Brighton Palace Pier was one of the first structures in England to be lit by electricity!.

You may all know Brightonfor being the home to its famous pier -the worlds oldest seaside pleasure pier- and it was completed in 1823. Ben & Jerrys ice cream was created here; big names like The Beatles and David Bowie visited when they were at their height of fame, and countless souvenirs on the pier have been sold over the years to visitors. But how much did it cost to build the pier you ask? Well take a seat because we’re counting all the way to £27,000!.

The Grade 1 listed pier which is over 721 ft long, 54 ft wide and cost an astonishing 27,000 to build. Brighton Pier has so much history (clearly visible by its grand architecture), it was even a film setting for the James Bond Film 'The Spy Who Loved Me'. A small organ was installed to accompany entertainments on the pier; around 1911 this was moved to the theatre where it remained until removed in 1980 to make way for a carousel.

4. The Pier Closed In WW2

During the second world war, the pier was closed during 1940 and 1941 to all but essential operational staff. Just one year later, on July 8th 1942, the pier was damaged when 3 high explosive bombs dropped next to it on the River Mersey. Amazingly, nobody was hurt in the attack. Only 2 weeks after repairing these bomb holes the pier took another hit when an anti-aircraft shell fell into its decking. Thankfully no one was injured in this incident either and repairs were made quickly.

Two years later on June 18th 1944, a mine dropped by German aircraft landed close to the Pier Head. This is thought to have been because of Liverpool being a key target for bombing as it had become Britain’s fourth largest port. There is very little information available about the pier and its usage during the conflict, but there is evidence that remains. In particular the decking around what was a playground and bowling green to the rear of the pavilion which today offers wonderful views of the pier from below.

It shows were supports for some kind of structure were fitted in 1940, but un-used, suggesting something was planned but never finished. A set of concrete foundation blocks can also be found inside of a pitched roofed building to left of what is now the food hut nearest to the beach. Later the pier was home to an amusement arcade and during the sixties a funfair. On 14th December 1967, tragedy struck, when two boys were swept from steps leading from Pier Street into the sea.

One boy was rescued by barmaid Linda Andrews who for her bravery that day received the Royal Humane Society Award. He later died of hypothermia. The other boy was never found. Bugler Co. was responsible for maintaining the pier until the war’s end, when it was taken over by the council and re-opened in 1952. In 1984, the pier was refurbished thanks to lottery monies. During this time, complete decking was replaced, as well as some of the railings.

5. Its A Grade II Listed Building

My heart was racing. Our trip to Brighton had always been on my list of places I had wanted to visit, ever since I first watched the 60s television programme The Prisoner which seemed to be in a similar area of the UK.  When my boyfriend and I bought our tickets for a weekend away, I knew that we would have to go and explore our beautiful pier.  My imagination ran wild with thoughts of its history, what secrets lay within the walls of a place so elegant and stunning.

 I left Brighton having found out more about the pier than I even knew there was to know, but it still had so many little secrets hidden beneath its facade that prevented me from knowing all about this wonderful place. The pier was originally built in 1870 by Eugenius Birch, it was just an open promenade at the time. The pier was then sold on to a few different owners . and we will get back to the Palace and its history shortly.

However in 1898 the Brighton Aquarium was constructed on the pier, which caused quite a stir as it showed off Britain's first moving staircase. This now meant that paying people were now walking across the pier top during their leisure time. (as this had previously been a privately owned area). Its easy to forget that Brighton Pier isn’t just a fun place to visit but a piece of history. The grade-II listed status was given to the pier in 1971 following it being listed as “of special architectural or historic interest”.

Over the years it has been under attack, declared beyond repair and once even burned to the ground. However, Piers, like the human spirit, have a way of forgiving those who try and bring it down. Voted as one of the top 10 piers in the uk by pier pressure, brighton's historic pier lamp houses a wide range of things such as rides and restaurants. Out of all the piers in the UK, Brighton is most definitely not the longest but it is now its 101 years old and is still going strong.

From August 1903 to October 1963, Brighton’s Palace Pier was the tallest in the world until it was knocked off the top spot by Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach which is all of 50 feet higher. It was considered an engineering marvel at the time and loved by everyone. The pier was also closed in the late 50s as a precautionary measure because some of the supporting pilings were damaged by rotting due to the rising sea water.

6. More than 3M People Visit Every Year

You can enjoy rides like the Octopus, Brighton Wheel or Pirate Ship; go on a trip on the historic paddle steamer, Brighton Belle; and cool down with an ice cream from the old-fashioned beach kiosk. You'll find plenty of cafes and restaurants along the pier for a bite to eat, plus there's live music every evening in the popular Pier Pavilion bar. If you're looking for things to do in Brighton in summer, why not take a trip on the iconic Brighton Palace Pier?.

7. Its Featured In Lots Of Films & TV

The pier was opened in 1899 and was designed by Eugenius Birch. It cost £600,000 to build but unfortunately the lead roof collapsed just 9 days after its opening, thankfully there were no injuries. A second pier, called the Marlborough Hall Pier, was built by a different company in 1901, it was then merged together with the original pier in 1910. The pavilion at the top of the pier was then rebuilt to accommodate a cafe.

The pier closed in 1975 due to structural damage caused by ships mooring at its end but has since been renovated and reopened opened for business in 2003. There are three decks on which you can walk around on and take in some stunning views of Brighton's famous beach. Filming on location is a great way to bring an otherwise generic film location to life. I have a lot of respect for these locations with their hidden or overlooked beauty and for being brave enough to allow themselves to be featured in some of my favourite films.

The Palace Pier itself has been featured in a lot of famous films from Evil Dead II to Doctor Who, Sweeney Todd to Dead Set. It’s amazing how different it looks with its bright lights and rollercoaster during the day and then completely covered in blood and jet black at night. The beaches in Brighton are famously popular too, with the first ever nudist beach opening there in the 1930s. Other famous locations in Brighton include the Royal Pavilion (a palace built by King George IV) and Brighton Pier, which is a Grade II listed building that was opened on 12 May 1823.

Because it’s been around for so long it’s been used as a concert venue by the likes of The Beatles, ABBA and The Police. It also features in Danny Boyle’s zombie classic 28 Days Later. But this isn’t the only example of Brighton appearing in TV and film – it has also featured in a couple of James Bond films. The Golden Globe winning The World Is Not Enough saw the villain Elektra King (played by Sophie Marceau) being carried to her plane by henchman Chang (played by Thai actor won Siu-Hung) at the airport, opposite the Brighton Centre.

It makes me quite proud to see that Brighton has been featured in lots of films and TV programmes. As a resident of the town you can always grab yourself a coffee on the pier and pretend you are in your favourite drama but it is not often that you see Brighton so prominently featuring in films, which makes it stand out from all other seaside resorts!. Around 800,000 people visit the pier every year, which makes it one of the most visited tourist attractions in Great Britain.

9. There Was A Fire In 2003

The Palace pier suffered a fire in February 2003. Located on the seafront facing the seafront promenade, it is a Grade II listed building, situated about 120 yards from the Golden cockerel monument. It was built in 1899 by architects Thomas Bainbridge and Charles Lavender, built with ironwork from France. The pier opened to great public demand on March 25th 1899 with local businessman JB Thompson as chairman of the society. The opening night saw a packed house with thousands more unable to gain entry due to the large crowds that turned out for this special occasion.

The Palace Pier is a pier on the seafront in Brighton , East Sussex , England. The pier is currently managed by the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club , and is used for the club's fan events. It is also an important venue for live music, with bands such as Feeder The Enemy and OutKast having performed live sets there.   The Palace Pier was built and opened in 1899, as one of three piers on Brighton seafront close to the Royal Pavilion .

Originally named the Brighton Palace Pier, it has pleasure gardens at the end, hosting various fairs and stalls . The pier was built in 1899, though the first incidents of fires were reported in 1961 and 1962. At that time, the level of damage was limited to wooden decking. After a large growth in the number of visitors to the pier, welding was carried out in 1976 and 1977 on parts of the structure which were found to be unsafe.

Just one year later, in 1978, a fire destroyed almost the entire pier. On February 4th, 2003, a fire caused severe damage to the pier building. The blaze started at 8:15pm in the Lighthouse Bar on platform 4 and spread quickly to the amusement arcade above it as well as the pier Tearoom on 5. Local residents were woken up by flashing blue lights and sirens from parked fire engines outside their houses on Shoreham Road.

10. It Nearly Didnt Exist

The opening was initially delayed for five weeks, but eventually on 18 June 1896, the Pier opened to the public. Because of its Victorian art nouveau style, the pier is a Grade II Listed building and remains a popular landmark on the South Coast. It received some damage during World War II and was further damaged in the great storm of 1983. But it was in 1991 that it faced it's greatest challenge. During the 1991 storm waves reached an estimated height of 57 feet (17 m) against the pier which has a 'weather deck'- or portion above the main deck - approximately 35 feet above sea level.

This caused severe structural damage with around 100 holes in both sides of an outside deck and internal washroom wall on one side. A hastily built timber barricade wasn’t enough to withstand the water and in a bid to stop the pier from being destroyed entirely, workers were forced to hammered sixty inch nails into parts of the building to hold it together!. Today, Brighton Palace Pier is filled with a funfair and restaurants. The pier provides a fun day out for families and has been the chosen location for two television programs - Shipwreck and Agatha Christie's Poirot.

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