The Brighton Chain Pier

L.W. Cowie describes what was, for seventy years, a key feature of the fashionable resort on the English south coast.

‘But of all the sweet pleasures Brighton can boast,
A walk on the Chain Pier delighteth me most,
That elegant structure, light, airy and free,
Like a work of enchantment hangs over the sea’.

So rang a song written for the opening of the pier in 1823. By then Brighton was changing its character. Earlier in the century George IV, when Prince of Wales, had gained aristocratic favour for the town; but now his visits to the fantastic Pavilion he had built were growing fewer. The town was becoming more middle-class, and speculative builders were rapidly adding to its size. In addition, foreign travel had been growing more popular since the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815; and Brighton, by now the largest coastal town between Portsmouth and Chatham, was the most important embarkation-place for cross-Channel passengers.

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