Brighton Palace Pier
Brighton Marine Palace and Pier, to give it its full official title, was an immediate success when it opened on the 20th May, 1899.
A theatre at the seaward end opened in 1901, and there were also smaller pavilions for dining, smoking and reading. A pavilion and winter garden were added to the centre of the pier in 1910, followed a year later by a landing stage for steam ships.
A little more than a month before the start of the First World War, the ships of Britain’s First Battle Squadron visited Brighton. These were the newly commissioned HMS Marlborough, accompanied by three other ships of the First Line and the four of the Second, plus the Squadron’s light cruiser HMS Bellona. The large crowd that gathered to see them covered both piers and the Esplanade, which was lined with fluttering coloured bunting.
The Paddle Steamer Brighton Queen ferried the sailors between the ships and the town, half of them visiting one day and the other half the second, when a show was put on for them on the Palace Pier. The following year the Brighton Queen was mined and sunk off the Belgian coast.
Up to that time, the Paddle Steamers Brighton Queen and Albion were sailing daily to and from a variety of destinations, including Eastbourne, Hastings, Boulogne, Shanklin, Folkestone, Deal, Bournemouth and Cowes.
After the First World War, early in their careers, both Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin performed on the pier before heading west to find fame in America.
After the Second World War, the pier hosted seasonal repertory until 1964. Its run of successful Summer Shows included such star names as Tommy Trinder, Ronnie Corbett, Dick Emery, Joe Brown, Ted Rogers and the Kaye Sisters.
The Noble Organisation took over the pier in 1984. They dismantled the theatre two years later, on the condition that it would go into storage for eventual restoration, however, they simply replaced it with an amusement arcade and the whole end of the pier was filled with fairground rides. The dismantled parts of the theatre conveniently disappeared. The company renamed the pier ‘Brighton Pier’, although no one took any notice and continued to call it by its real name.
The Spice Girls made early live performances there in 1996 and 1997.
New owners in 2016, renamed the pier the Brighton Palace Pier again.
The pier has featured in many TV programs such as Doctor Who and The Persuaders, as well as some notable films such as Brighton Rock and Mona Lisa. It was also central to the Who album Quadrophenia and the best forgotten film of the same name.