The rotting skeleton of a shoreside fun fair that was destroyed by fire and storms still haunts the Brighton ocean view.
Brighton, England’s West Pier was the second of three major piers that have jutted out to sea from the city’s shoreline, and much like its predecessor, the Chain Pier, it was destroyed through years of neglect, storms, and fire. However, unlike the first pier, the skeleton of the West Pier can still be seen just offshore.
Built in 1866 as an amusement attraction as opposed to a shipping or passenger landing, the West Pier seemed at the time like the perfect answer to the glamour and fun the Chain Pier had lacked. The West Pier was over 1,000 feet long and built with a series of small shacks and some wind-blocks for visitors gazing out to sea. As the years went by, the pier continued to grow, adding a large concert hall at its far end as well as some larger entertainment buildings along its length. During the early 20th century, the pier had grown into a quintessential seaside resort attraction where one could imagine a Gatsby strolling with his Daisy. Unfortunately, the grace of the Gatsbys and Daisys was long gone by the 1970s.
The West Pier had fallen into disrepair by the 70s, and the mounting maintenance costs made it a wholly unattractive candidate for renovation, so in 1975, the pier was closed. The structure changed hands among a number of different owners, each making sure that it wasn’t demolished but not improving it either. Tours of the empty structure were held despite mounting damage from wind and storms until the end of the pier was cut off from the mainland in 2002. The next year, the water-locked concert hall started fire gutting the entire structure right down to its metal bones.
Since then, the eerie skeleton of the pier’s glory days have continued to rot just offshore. In 2014 another storm tore away a part of the remains as well, endangering the remaining structure even more. But for the time being, the Victorian steel bones of a once glorious attraction will not let themselves be forgotten.
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