Newest Review: ... and such other seaside tat. Lets walk along the 1722 foot grade 2 listed pier. Walking under the clock tower entrance you finally get... more
Brighton Palace Pier (England)
Member Name: T4imbo3107
Brighton Palace Pier (England)
Advantages: Always open throughout the year.
Disadvantages: Is a focal point for Brighton.
These days it's a hub of Brighton seafront and from the end you can get a splendid view west of coast line up to Worthing and east to Newhaven and Seaford taking in the white cliffs of Sussex as well. The pier is open all year round and only seems to be closed on Christmas Day, and throughout the year the pier is very busy with tourists and day trippers all taking the pier as a visitors attraction and its something given its history that Brighton can be proud of as well as it boasts free entry and a plethora of attractions that you immediately associate with the seaside. In the past the landmark has been the host to exhibitions such as the Doctor Who Experience that generated a lot of interest from fans of the show as props and costumes were on display.
The entrance to the pier is basically at the bottom of the A23 where it meets the A259 coast road, the A23 is the main thoroughfare into Brighton from London and when you reach the coast this is the first thing that you'll see with its grandiose entrance gate and kiosks adorning either sides of the giant archway. It is Victorian design to the maximum and gives you an idea as to when the pier was built, as modern styles would flatly refuse anything like this to be there and would in essence simply have a gated fence instead. Here is also where security resides and since Brighton has had a number of attempts by the IRA back in the eighties as well as the main hub for Conferences by the main political parties and they are very sharp to pick up on things which I personally find to be positive, especially given the amount of people that come here.
Once you've passed here the pier is your own, on the left is the boarded walkway that allows prams, wheelchairs or people with high heels to walk so they don't get stuck in the slats. I always look down at the sea which is clearly visible between the slatted walkway and when the sea is rough its not unusual to feel the waves splash up between these as well!!
With little independent shops selling trinkets and belt buckles as you walk up to the first main area, its here where the fun really starts as this is the amusement area that houses all the games and fruit machines. Its easily the busiest area on the pier and offers all the most up to date games presented in one building, and now with jackpots as high as £70 on the fruit machines is a place that you can spend a lot of time as well as money in too. Its never quiet here and you can see why as soon as you enter, its interesting to note that some games are more of a challenge. For example other than the usual racing games that you either sit in a full size car or mount a bike, that allows four or eight players to race against each other you also have the simulators that charge £2 a go to land a 747, the scope of what's available is simply diverse to say the least, although the dancing games with people jumping around in time to the music always grabs the attention with a group watching the participants and generally having fun, also the same goes for the giant mechanical grab where the stuffed toy in question is over three feet high, this gives some idea of how big the grab is!! With a small Coffee shop at the back the first part of the pier caters for the livelier side. Prices arent too bad considering the location, however seating can only be described as seventies design with the fixed back chairs.
Walk out the back doors and you come across the more old style sideshow attraction, simply knock all the cans off the shelf to win a prize or simply score under 10 with three darts to win a toy. I call these the fun fair games as they are simply old fashioned in nature and far more entertaining watching a person throw a ball at a pile of cans, and to be honest these require some strength and skill to do. This area is under cover and the games change quite regularly depending upon the season as in the summer they may be football based and in the winter something else. Again the crowds do tend to gather to watch the participants and on most occasions these can be quite funny to watch.
After this comes the end of the pier fun fare, rides including a Helter Skelter, Ghost Train and a small Rollercoaster take centre stage on the right, with the usual mixture of Dodgems and the eccentric yet stomach churning Mousetrap overlooking the end of the pier. It's a cashless method that is the preferred way of paying as you purchase tokens for the rides which can only be purchased from a kiosk, so every ride has a defined level of tokens that you surrender to go on. For a family it could work out expensive, even though there are height restrictions in place for some rides, as the Dodgems could be three tokens that equate to something in the region of £2 per person. There is plenty to go here including an old style Wurlitzer that in peak season always seems to be busy. In the last few year s there has also been a Bungee Catapult built at the end of the pier and this can be seen from quite a way off. This is also where the second dome is as well, here there is always something different. Whether it is a Ice Rink or an exhibition there is always something going on.
Of course with it being Brighton on a summer's weekend it's inevitable that there is going to be groups of Hens and Stag do's. Brighton is a magnet for these and while the door policy in the town is adhered to the letter the pier thrives on the fact they are welcome in the Karaoke bar and in the past I've seen male strippers springing their surprise on the less than impressed bride to be. This states to be the furthest south Karaoke bar in the country and as its some 600 metres out at sea it cannot be beaten. The vibe in here is always good and on a weekend is very busy. Although next to here is a rather subdued bar in comparison that has bands on mid-week and at the weekend. Again this is busy as well as you would expect, but this one has a seated area outside so all you have to worry about is the unloveable and rather giant sized seagulls. This is a relaxing place to be yet since the smoking ban has slowly become the designated smoking area.
This isn't the only bar either, about halfway along the pier is the Victoria Bar. With quite a nice white washed fenced off area outside the bar provides a resting place to have a beer and relax. Although I have to say that I think the quality of lager provided does seem to be watered down as the taste is different and weaker than what you would get in land. Food is heavily catered for with a Fish and Chip restaurant and various Coffee shops littered along the route with various world cuisines such as Chinese at the far end, there are specialist kiosks that sell Seaside Rock and Candy Floss. Also opposite the side stall there are a couple of old fashioned Gift shops that sell some hard to get sweets such as Coconut Ice or Nougat, not to mention some rather decent Turkish Delight.
I do have to say that the lavatories are clean throughout the pier and on my visit found that due to the fact these are quite large and in a central location allows someone to be in and out quickly. I like the fact the fun hasn't been taken away from the pier, as you walk down you see the infamous picture postcard scenes with holes cut out for people to put there heads through for photo opportunities, also at various places are plaques giving the history of the structure and what can be seen from this point and did I mention they have a resident Fortune Teller as well?
From one end to the other there are an expanse of deckchairs rolled out that get taken up very quickly for the sun worshippers to use. There is also bench seating as well and you tend to see couples cuddling up watching the sun go down together, this is quite a romantic place and for me it's a simple place that gives me what I want and that is just to get away from everything, basically I could call this my happy place!
Add in an area that is used as a stage for a small sized concert that was originally the Go-Kart track and you have everything in one place. It is nice to see that there are events such as the end of season Fireworks display that takes place with people lining the sides of the pier; this is usually in late August/ early September when the evenings draw in. It does seem a lot of thought goes into what the pier has to offer and the events surrounding the summer season. As I said earlier the pier is open all throughout the year for the public to enter and even in the harsh coldness of an autumnal day it is refreshing to walk to the end of the pier and back, both the domes that contain amusements are open and even then the small Coffee shops are busy, mainly with people warming up, and the arcades are still as loud as in the summer. Outside it can be quite desolate at that time of year and this makes it all the more fun and compared to the summer season it does turn the whole place into something that is far more personal to be within as on some days you feel that you have the whole place to yourself.
With the pier open till midnight from 9am every morning, the length of time and the number of people that go here every day are impressive to say the least. At night the whole length of the pier is illuminated and while this is quite an awesome sight to see, it does make you wonder as to what the future holds for this structure as they do seem to be a dying breed. It is traditional, yet what is inside the various domed buildings are modern in nature and represent what people want at the seaside, I do hold Brighton as a spiritual place for me as the whole city seems to always have a positive vibe to it all the time and for me is one place that I don't have any bad memories to which I use Brighton as my escape place, especially with a large Latte overlooking the beach below. Simply glorious!
Okay I know its been renamed to Brighton Pier as it has no competition... but it will always be Palace Pier to me!
Summary: A good place to be on a Saturday night.