Protecting our local heritage
Here at the West Pier Trust we are passionate about protecting the cultural and historical heritage of Brighton’s seafront. The iconic West Pier has been a key cultural landmark since its opening in 1866, with millions of visitors flocking to experience the thrill of walking over water and being entertained by world-class performances. Through a series of tragic events the Pier has since fallen into disrepair and now stands as a derelict monument to times gone by. However, all is not lost!
We are proud to be a lead partner in regenerating Brighton’s seafront – by both protecting the heritage of the old Pier, as well as starting a new era of cultural significance. The British Airways i360 was an ambitious project from Marks Barfield Architects, co-developed with the Trust. The observation attraction opened in 2016 and offers visitors thrilling 360o views of Brighton and Hove, the old West Pier and the South Downs National Park in a new ‘vertical’ pier. This project has been a great success and has kick-started a new era of regeneration on the seafront, with vibrant new independent businesses springing up in renovated arches.
Restoring and returning to use a West Pier Kiosk and teaching visitors about this heritage continues to be our goal. The new West Pier Centre is just east of BAi360 and welcomes visitors and residents to explore the cultural and historical importance of the Pier through information, exhibitions and talks. The octagonal Kiosk was recovered from the Pier in the 1990s. It is the only surviving complete original West Pier structure and the oldest pier building in the world. It will reopen as a hub for new community projects, improving the wellbeing of Brighton’s residents.
The Pier’s historical significance is inherently linked to the coastal landscape. The Biocultural Heritage project run by the Living Coast Biosphere Reserve offers us an opportunity to teach visitors and residents about how the Pier is intrinsically tied to our surrounding natural environment.
Come and pay us a visit next time you are down by the seafront to learn about Brighton’s past and experience the present in new and exciting ways!