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
The Brighton Pier formerly known as Brighton Palace pier!
Brighton Palace Pier (England)
Member Name: garymarsh6
Brighton Palace Pier (England)
Advantages: A super way to spend a couple of hours lapping up the fresh clean sea air.
Disadvantages: Can get very crowded in the summer.
A little historical background information about piers.
On my recent trip to Brighton we went as per usual to promenade along the pier. The piers around the UK are mostly of Victorian origin and they were built at a time without the powerful equipment that we have today and are testament to the wonderful engineers of the time and we can still enjoy these wonders today. At the turn of the century in 1900 there were over 100 hundred such piers in existence however sadly there are now less than fifty of these piers left today.
The original pier in Brighton was in fact a chain pier and at one time Brighton pier was the busiest passenger terminal in England at the time of steam ships that used to ply the channel between Brighton and Dieppe in France. The chain pier was suspended at stages from pylons set at short distances on pylons structures sunk into the bedrock of the sea. Some of the original oak pylons can still be seen when there are severe low tides.
As better ports were built around the country where the trains terminated for example the line from London terminated in nearby Newhaven and a port was built here. Some of these piers fell into disuse and disrepair the wood rotting or iron corroding eventually most piers falling into the sea during particularly bad storms after receiving a battering from the high winds and crashing and crushing waves.
The Victorians jumped at the opportunity to charge an entrance fee for pedestrians to walk along the pier to take the sea air charging 2d (1P) which was quite a lot of money in those days. Many people from London used to come to Brighton to take the sea air as it was supposedly much cleaner air and deemed very healthy compared to the smoke filled city of London. This tradition has continued over the years and many people continue to walk to the end of the piers dotted around the coastal areas of the UK.
On many of the piers theatres and band stands were built to entertain the public. Later fun fairs and shops were added to keep the tradition of the piers alive. From the pier you can still see the remains of the West pier the iron structure left defiantly standing in the sea and rotting away following a disastrous fire in 2003 which finally destroyed that had been abandoned and neglected prior to the fire.
Approaching the pier from either the town centre or from either side of the pier along the promenade you cannot fail to admire the entrance to the pier. The Pier proudly announces that it is Brighton Pier with the sign over the entrance and the appearance is of a Victorian design. There is a small clock tower above the entrance similar looking to Big Ben displaying the time on the four faces of the mini tower. In front of the entrance there is a small semi circular parade of 8 little kiosks selling seaside fare such as candy floss, sticks of rock and other rock sweets, honeycomb, fudge, pink and white striped nougat, burgers, hotdogs, fish and chips and kiss me quick hats and such other seaside tat.
Lets walk along the 1722 foot grade 2 listed pier.
Walking under the clock tower entrance you finally get to stand on the pier proper. At this point you are still standing above the shingle beach. The pier structure is iron and the floor boards are wood. There are small gaps between the floorboards which allows you see the sea below as you walk along the promenade deck. The purpose of the small gaps is to allow any rain water fall back into the sea. The current owners have also put down an aluminium pathway all along the pier to help those who are pushing a pushchair or wheelchair. At a couple of spots along the pier there are some coin operated telescopes so you can look out to sea at the passing ships or back inland and along the coast.
There is a small cast iron shelter running along the centre of the pier promenade where you can sit and rest and enjoy the sea air. It can be quite windy at times during the year so you can either sit there and be blown to bits or move to the other side to be shielded from the elements or soak up a few rays of sunshine. It is part of the original structure of the pier and requires constant maintenance to prevent the destruction by the salty water that would corrode the iron. The pier is painted white taking three months every year to paint in order to protect it.
The first major building you come across is the original ballroom and concert hall where afternoon tea dances, plays, bands and such like would perform each day. It is a very large wooden structure with a massive glass dome on the top. It is built with a combination of wood and iron supports. What is particularly interesting is the ornate Victorian iron work around the building. At the end of the pier I noticed that some of the wood has now been replaced by white PVC cladding.
It is currently being used as a giant arcade. You do not have to walk through the arcade you can walk around either side. There are hundreds of machines inside clunking away with flashing lights, very loud music drowning out the sounds of the machines all waiting for the gullible to be relieved of their hard earned cash. There are machines you can sit on and pretend to be a racing driver or ace pilot, a variety of games where you have to hit popping crocodiles and other animals as the pop their heads up from the machine. Drop the penny machines, pin ball machines and the infamous slot machines. Flashing lights and noises from the machine add to the mayhem and hustle and bustle inside.
Passing through the arcade you come across a small parade of shops on either side of the pier selling souvenirs, post cards, tattoos and costume jewellery and other tat.
The Palm Court restaurant.
Continuing to walk along the pier you next reach the palm court fish and chip restaurant. Inside the restaurant is the original band stand where free concerts used to be given. The fish and chips here are absolutely gorgeous. You can either buy a takeaway portion or sit in the elegant dining room to enjoy your fish and chips.
The menu is mainly fish based but there are various meat dishes you can have. The menu is quite extensive and you can have starters, mains, side dishes and desserts but who in their right mind would have meat when you are in one of the best fish and chip restaurants in the land. Although it was 3PM by time we got there we were obviously quite peckish by this time.
We were seated quite quickly and presented with the menu. The waitress left us for a few moments but we knew already what we wanted, she took our order and then brought us our pot of tea before the tea was finished being poured we were served quite quickly with our fish and chips. For a pot of tea each, bread and butter, cod, chips and garden peas and haddock chips and mushy peas. The portions were good and were served piping hot and by Jove they tasted delicious but there is something special about eating fish and chips out of paper I don't know if it is just me but they do seem to taste better. I am of a certain age where I and probably many other members can remember the days of eating fish and chips that had been wrapped in newspaper with lashings of salt and vinegar but health and safety took over and that is why they are no longer served that way.
The bill came to just a tad over £25. Should you wish you can also have an alcoholic drink there was a variety of beers available and wine either by the glass or whole bottle.
The toilet facilities are very clean and are regularly checked by the staff who seem to be on the go all the time, taking orders, bringing food, clearing tables etc etc. The waiting staff are smartly dressed the ladies in smart black skirts, white blouses and a small white apron and the men are wearing white shirts, black trousers.
It is markedly cheaper to have a take away and less than half that price but the Palm Court really is a delightful setting to sit and enjoy your fish and chips. I have promised that next time we visit I will get a takeaway portion of fish and chips as I would love to sit on the pier to eat and enjoy them. The queue for fish and chips was out of the door of the palm court and there must have been at least 20 odd people in the queue with people joining it as fast as people were being served. It certainly is very popular and where else can you enjoy one of our Best British foods it would almost be sinful not to try them.
On the other side of the Palm Court restaurant building is the pub which has a small fenced off seating area where you can enjoy a nice pint or bottle of wine and sit out in the sun and take in the sea air.
The fun fare at the end of the pier.
After our little sojourn whilst we stuffed our faces we then went onto the end of the pier where you will find the fun fare. There are traditional rides available. They operate a cashless ride system where you prepay for your ride tickets and present your tickets depending on which rides you wish to go on. The rides consist of traditional rides such as the helter-skelter, a lovely carousel with beautifully painted horses, a horror hotel train ride and the bumper cars.
There is a waltzer and loop the loop rail ride, a water plume and you will get a little wet on this ride, the booster ride where you are sat in a group of four people and swung up to over 120 odd feet over the side of the pier coming down at an incredible speed of 3.6G at 180 degrees. There are also a couple of big dipper rail rides. There are of course a couple of rides exclusively for very young children. There are also some side show stalls including a racing game where you can roll balls up a board where the balls drop through holes in order to make the dolphins move along a race track. There is even a bucking bronco ride where you can try to hold on for dear life but most people are bucked off within a few bucks!
There are crane machines placed along the pier at different places in order for you to part with your hard earned cash where the toys or other prizes such as mini iPods, watches or sun glasses are stuffed in so tightly in such a way it is nigh on impossible to win a prize. There is a coconut shy, and along the pier there are costumed boards where you can pose for your photo, have your palm read by a palm reader who will let you cross her hand with a fiver as opposed to silver in a small caravan next to the Palm Court Restaurant which is still very popular. There are three bars on the pier and 30 eateries and little shop outlets.
Overall it is a fantastic British traditional pier with an up to date feel to it with clean and efficient facilities and one of our pastimes we should all aim to preserve and cherish. I thoroughly recommend a visit to the pier which incidentally is free entry. Who can resist eating freshly cooked and hot mini sugar donuts or teeth rotting candy floss (I can give this one a miss along with the stick of rock) or best of all a portion of fish and chips with lashings of salt and vinegar.
The pier is open all year round with the exception of Christmas day and is open from early morning til late at night. There are different closing times depending on the time of the year but generally it is very late. Entrance is currently free. The pier is lit up at night with over 30,000 light bulbs which make it an even prettier sight. The whole of the pier is disabled friendly with the exception of some of the rides at the end of the pier. I thoroughly recommend visiting the pier and we as a nation should be proud of this tradition of perambulating along the piers like the Victorians did and supporting the piers dotted around the coasts of our country.
You cannot fail to miss the pier as it is right at the end of the A23 so if you don't stop you will end up in the sea. It is more or less in the centre of Brighton along the coastal road. It's about 10-15 minute walk from the railway station, five minutes from Brighton Pavilion and 2 minutes from the bus station and the lanes.
The Address if ever there was a need for it is:-
Summary: A piece of nostalgia mixed with up to date facilities. Part of our national seaside heritage.
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