Over the summer we created the “Pier to Pier” Project, where we filmed all our summer students at their local pier a Charleston dance routine they learned in class. To slowly lead you into the project, we want to tell you a little bit of the history of all the piers we went to.
The Brighton Palace Pier
The Brighton Palace Pier, which was originally named Brighton Marine Palace, was designed by Richard St. George Moore and the construction works were started in November 1881. But the Opening Ceremony was not until 1899, due to a raging storm in 1896, which washed away the remains of the Chain Pier causing serious damage to the partly built Palace Pier. In 2000 the pleasure pier was renamed “Brighton Pier”, which is 1,722 ft long and acknowledged as the finest pier ever built. Today 67.000 lights illuminate the Brighton Pier each night.
And did you know that both Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel performed at the pier to hone their comic skills early in their career, before migrating to the US?
The pier was designed and engineered by Eugenius Birch and the West Pier construction works started in 1863. In 1866 the pier was opened. Throughout the history the West Pier had to go through a lot of changes. The pier was designed for entertaining the visitors of Brighton, and it helped, but after World War Ⅱ the popularity declined and the pier needed to be entirely closed in 1974 for safety reasons. Nobody wanted to buy the pier so it fell into disrepair and it got even worse over next years. The West Pier Trust bought the pier for just £100 in 1983, so it got restored and reopened in 1987. In 2004 the pier was entirely destroyed after two fires and a few storms.
Did you know that the West Pier was the first pier to be Grade Ⅰ listed in Britain in 1982? Now it’s the most at risk Grade Ⅰ listed building in the UK. But it’s still the most photographed building in Brighton, because of the sculptural remains of the Pavilion.
Designed by Sir Robert Rawlinson, the 960 ft long pleasure pier opened in 1862. Over the years the pier had to be rebuilt because of several fires or storms, but also because it was being blown up by high explosives.
In 1898, when there was a grand opening after a complete reconstruction because the towns politicians and businessmen were thinking, that the pier was hardly grand enough to mark the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, they were treated Viscount Hampden by one of Queen’s representative.
And in 1940, during World War Ⅱ, a hole was blown into the pier to stop it being used as a landing point for an enemy attack.
Today the Pavilion theatre sits at the northern end of the pier and on the southern end the pavilion has recently been renovated into a café, after having been a night club for several years.
Fun Fact: In the 90s the Pier was really popular among indie fans after it was featured on the front cover of the band Gene’s album To See the Light.
South Parade Pier in Portsmouth
The pier, which was designed by R. Gale and was started to build in 1878, was opened in 1879 by Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar. Until today the pier has been destroyed by fire three times. One fire was in 1974 during the making of the film ‘Tommy’ by Ken Russel. In one scene with Oliver Reed you can clearly see the smoke. Many famous names have performed on the South Parade Pier, like Frankie Howerd, Peter Sellers, David Bowie or Genesis. And the pier also appeared in an episode of Mr. Bean entitled “Mind the Baby Mr. Bean”.
The in 2017 reopened pier is now an amusement arcade and food outlet.
Sandown Pier of the Isle of Wight
The 360 ft long pier was opened in 1879. In 1895 the pier was extended to 875 ft with a landing stage for passenger steamers and a pavilion was also built on the pier. In 1965, when Louis Mountbatten was installed as Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ and Prince Philip toured the Island and at the end of the tour the Queen attended a ceremony at the pavilion.
Afterwards the pier underwent major renovations and alterations, but it was reopened in 1973.
Today the Sandown Pier still hosts an amusement arcade, many bars and a café and it still remains popular with fishermen, tourists and those who want to do a seaside cruise.
The whole video to show you the result will be uploaded to our MyCharleston YouTube site and Facebook site, when it’s ready. So, stay tuned!