The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier is a pleasure pier in Brighton, England. It is generally known as the Palace Pier for short, but has been informally renamed Brighton Pier since 2000 by its owners, the Noble Organisation, as it is now Brighton’s only non-derelict pier. The West Pier was its rival but was closed in 1975 and was subsequently severely damaged by fires and storms, with the remaining iron structure being partially demolished in 2010. Historically, the now destroyed Royal Suspension Chain Pier was the first pier structure constructed in Brighton.
Work began on the Palace Pier in 1891, the inaugural ceremony for laying of the first pile was held on 7 November 1891, overseen by Mayor Samuel Henry Soper. The pier opened in May 1899 after costing a record £27,000 to build. This was Brighton’s third pier. A condition to be met by its builders, in exchange for permission to build, was that the first, the Royal Suspension Chain Pier of 1823, which had fallen into a state of disrepair, was to be demolished.They were saved this task by a storm which largely destroyed the Chain Pier. A concert hall opened two years later, and by 1911 this had become a theatre. During World War II the pier was closed and some decking removed as a security precaution.
Summer shows with stars such as Dick Emery, Tommy Trinder and Doris and Elsie Waters were held in the theatre until the 1970’s.
During a storm in 1973, a 70-ton barge moored at the pier’s landing stage broke loose and began to damage the pier-head, particularly the theatre. Despite fears that the pier would be destroyed, the storm eased and the barge was removed.The damaged theatre was never used again. In 1986 the theatre was removed, on the understanding that it would be replaced. This has not happened, and the present seaward end building looks fairly modern in comparison with the rest of the structure, supporting a domed amusement arcade and several fairground rides, including several thrill rides, children’s rides and roller coasters.
A bomb planted by the IRA near the pier in 1994 was defused by a controlled explosion.
The pier is frequently shown iconically to “set” film and television features in Brighton, for example in scenes in Mirrormask, The Persuaders, the Doctor Who serial The Leisure Hive (1980), the 1979 film Quadrophenia and the 2007 film, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Much earlier on in 1896 the pier was also shown in many silent films. R.W. Paul shot the iconic film, On Brighton Beach, which included both the Palace Pier and the West Pier.
More notably the pier and Brighton is the setting for scenes in the Graham Greene novel Brighton Rock.
Brighton Rock (1947) was directed by John Boulting and starring Richard Attenborough, Carol Marsh, William Hartnell and Hermione Baddeley.
The film Brighton Rock enjoys an unassailable status as one of the greatest British films ever made. It’s a classic thriller, a terrific gangster movie and one of the most distinctive versions of film noir ever to originate from these shores.
“It also boasts one of the most unforgettable bad guys ever seen on a cinema screen: the irredeemably evil teenage hoodlum Pinkie Brown, played with unblinking conviction by the late Richard Attenborough, himself only 23 at the time.”
“Brighton Rock is one of very few films successfully adapted from Graham Greene’s work. Greene co-wrote its script with playwright Terence Rattigan from his own novel, and while it can be argued that the film is a diluted version, it retains an extraordinary power.”