Saturday, July 31

Latest Bill: In praise of mad inventors

- February 6, 2017


Brighton has a history of three iconic piers: the Chain Pier (1823 – 1896), the West Pier (1866 – 1975) and the Palace Pier (currently Brighton Pier and soon to be Brighton Palace Pier) (1899 – still going strong). I spent a lovely afternoon last week having been invited by Anne Martin to tea on the Palace Pier, and even in the bleak midwinter, a walk on the pier and some tea and cake is still a magical and romantic experience. 

Many years ago, I wrote a song to Brighton to capture this magic and romance, which we later used as the theme tune for our TV channel.

Brighton Lights
“I wasn’t born here but I was born to be here
In between The Village and The Palace Pier
Nothing here is quite like what it seems
Two hundred thousand people but a million dreams”

I guess Luke Johnson who bought the pier recently must feel like us Brightonians who love the pier! And I’m so glad that Luke and Anne have brought it back as The Palace Pier, well Brighton Palace Pier! Even better.

Recently Latest TV made a documentary about the history of the West Pier, from the ingenious designs of engineer, Eugenius Birch. We charted its fabled history, from its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, to its status as the ultimate film location for O What a Lovely War, and Carry On Girls, to the devastating fires and storms that ravaged and ultimately destroyed it, despite the heroic efforts of people to save the pier.

Here’s to those who’ve made Brighton peerlessly full of piers

The West Pier location has had a recent saviour with the majestic British Airways i360 created by remarkable architect husband and wife team, David Marks and Julia Barfield. The BAi360 rises like a phoenix from the ashes of the old pier. It was a real privilege for our crew to go up in the BAi360 with Leonard Goldman who celebrated his 100th birthday on top of the BAi360 whilst reminiscing about the fun he had on the West Pier playing the famous stockbroker machines.

A few weeks ago I went on the refurbished Eastbourne Pier. It also has a new name. It had gold everywhere. I had tea with the owner who arrived in a gold car with golden diamond rings on every finger, that matched the shining golden chandeliers in his tea room. He called himself The Sheikh. And on this pier there’s a refurbished old Camera Obscura. Where else would this appear but a pier?

As I left after another great tea and cake and fresh air filled afternoon I saw the sign: “Thank you for visiting Sheikh’s Pier.” Is it mad inventors who make the piers or is it the piers that make people go a bit crazy. Whatever, I love them. So here’s to Eugenius Birch and all those who’ve made Brighton peerlessly full of piers.

Stay in touch @latestbrighton

Watch our history of the West Pier, to celebrate the 150th anniversary:

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