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© Miss Esther Harbour

IoE Number: 482063
Location: THE PALACE PIER, MADEIRA DRIVE (south side)
  BRIGHTON, BRIGHTON AND HOVE, EAST SUSSEX
Photographer: Miss Esther Harbour
Date Photographed: 07 August 2005
Date listed: 20 August 1971
Date of last amendment: 20 August 1971
Grade II*

The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.

BRIGHTON TQ3103NW MADEIRA DRIVE 577-1/46/413 (South side) 20/08/71 The Palace Pier II* Pleasure pier and associated structures. 1891-1901, added to in 1906, 1910-1911 and 1930; restored and added to in c1945, c1973 and since 1984. Designed by R St George Moore for the Brighton Marine Palace and Pier Company and, after 1898, by Sir John Howard; the builder was Arthur Mayoh of Manchester. Steel, cast- and wrought-iron structure; kiosks and buildings of wood and metal; many of the roofs made from tin pressed to resemble fishscale tiles. 1,650 feet in length with a width varying from 45 feet to 189 feet at the pier head. PLAN/EXTERIOR: the following description will move from the entrance of the structure to its head. The entrance area is semicircular in plan; paved in red brick since 1984; stalls along border of crescent terminate to south in octagonal kiosks; octagonal kiosks to the north date to the late C19 and were formerly part of the original Aquarium (qv), removed when the entrance was rebuilt in c1927. Flat-arched entrance way with mansard roof and clock; these date to 1930 when they replaced 3 iron-work arches removed to allow for the widening of the promenade. To the north of the entrance runs a glazed windscreen which forms a centre spine to the pier and is interrupted by various buildings described below: windscreen supported by pairs of cast-iron columns and, at several points, by original iron-work gates, now much damaged, which once spanned the promenade. Also running the whole length of the pier are cast-iron railing of late C19 or early C20 design. The first range of the windscreen has 12 bays; the partition bows out to form 5 lozenge-shaped kiosks. Near the south end of the first windscreen range, the pier widens in the first of several stages; the corners here are marked by a pair of octagonal kiosks with ogee metal roof; these served as toll booths on the Chain Pier which collapsed in December of 1896. There follows the largest extant original structure left on the pier, the former Winter Garden of the late C19, now called the Palace of Fun. The original exterior was designed in a Moorish style to echo the Royal Pavilion; the structure was sheathed in vinyl aluminium sheeting since 1984. In plan it has a low rotunda at the centre with rectangular, nave-like structures projecting from the north and south to form a central axis on line with that of the promenade. INTERIOR: inside cast-iron columns are strutted out from side walls of the nave spaces to form vestigial aisles; each pair of columns supports an open web, single-span metal truss which takes the form of segmental arch; the ceiling is boarded. The rotunda is supported by similar columns, but is much higher than the axial naves; continuous entablature runs all around the rotunda. The structure very likely dates to the 1910-1911 remodelling. Just to the north of the Palace of Fun, the pier narrows again with the promenade once more divided by the central windscreen. At this point, spanning the pier, are the first of several of the original, iron work and arched gateways. Each gate was of 5 bays, the centre and end openings being far wider than the intermediate bays. Further south, in the 4th bay of the centre windscreen, the pier widens again to accommodate a group of kiosks, now covered in sheeting; some original cast-iron studs and ornament survive; originally it was possible to walk around these kiosks on a narrow platform, now gone. In the 15th bay of the windscreen are the remains of another iron-work gateway; the 18th and final bay of this stretch of the windscreen serves as the base for another iron-work gateway, this one of 9 bays, spanning the promenade as it broadens once again. Beyond this archway is a single-storey building of late C19 or early C20 date which serves to house a restaurant and bar; 3-part plan with roughly square centre section and wings to the north and south. Low roofs over the north and south are hipped with iron crested eaves and ridges; the centre roof is 6-sided and steps up to iron weather vane enclosing a revolving, mirrored ball. This structure very likely dates to the 1910-11 remodelling. To the south, the narrowing of the pier once more is marked by the remains of a 9-bay iron-work archway. The centre windscreen resumes; between its 11th and 12th bays are the remains of a 5-bay, iron-work archway; this range of the windscreen has other iron work remains, comparable in date to the gateways noted above. At the end of this range the pier steps out once again; near the angles a pair of late C19 facilities with hipped roofs, cast-iron valence boards and pilasters with cast-iron brackets above. There follows the site of the 1901 Palace Pier Theatre, severely damaged in 1973 when a barge tore loose from its moorings and partly wrecked the theatre and the surrounding decking; the theatre was girded by Moorish arcades and had a very exotic interior; it was demolished in 1986 to be replaced by the current Pleasure Dome supported by a tubular steel, geodesic grid to which this listing does not apply. The pier head itself is the widest area of the pier; with the exception of 4 onion domes, now covered in sheeting, very little of the late C19 or early C20 structures survive. The pier itself was extended in 1938. HISTORICAL NOTE: the Brighton Marine Palace and Pier Company was formed in 1889 conditional on the demolition of the old Chain Pier which was located not far to the east, at the bottom of New Steine. A storm of December, 1896, destroyed the Chain Pier, sweeping parts of it into the Palace Pier and damaging Volks Railway and the West Pier (qv). The first phase of the Palace Pier's construction was completed in 1901; the original theatre was the focus of the Pier and contained, in addition to a concert hall seating 1,800 people, dining, smoking and reading rooms. The pier was damaged during the war and reopened in 1946. The storm damage of 1973 was quite severe; the repairs completed in 1976 did not restore the structure to its original opulence. It was purchased in 1984, by the Noble Organisation which embarked on a 2-year refurbishment program. (Carder T: The Encyclopaedia of Brighton: Lewes: 1990-: 117).

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