Brighton’s Beloved West Pier Takes a Beating

By Omar Khan and Philip (George) Rylands-Richey

Brighton’s beloved West Pier has been standing strong against the elements for 147 years. However, after being hammered by 70mph winds and colossal waves, an enormous part of it has collapsed, splitting the pavilion in two.

In 2003, the iconic landmark was subject to an arsonist attack, which destroyed the pier and since then it has looked more and more fragile.

The blackened husk of the pier that was left after the fire has always been quite delicate, and in January 2013 icy weather conditions caused part of it to deteriorate and fall into the sea.

Chief executive of the West Pier Trust Rachel Clark said: “There have been collapses for several weeks as we’ve had the high winds, but this is more significant and obvious. A significant section of the pavilion island skeleton has collapsed. It’s very sad but it was always going to happen.”

In 2004, English Heritage concluded that the pier could no longer be restored after freak storm damage in June of that year – this proved to be the last straw following previous fires and collapses. 

In January 2004, the organisation said that they hoped to find funding to restore the structure to its 1866 state as a flat promenading pier.  It followed a decision earlier that month by the Heritage Lottery Fund to cancel a £14m restoration grant, saying a proposed scheme half-funded by developers St Modwyn was financially too risky.

Trust officials have acknowledged that the beloved tourist attraction will eventually fall into the sea, and that it is only a matter of time before another bout of violent winds or crashing waves finally knock the tenacious pier down.

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