As the water level lowers with the tide on the shore of Brighton, England, a strange grouping of petrified wooden stumps and Cyclopean blocks are slowly revealed, the only remnants of an early Victorian attraction that was washed away in a storm.
Built in 1823 the Royal Suspension Chain Pier or simply the “Chain Pier” was the earliest major pier to be constructed in the seaside area. The Chain Pier was called such as it consisted of a series of segments linked by tall suspension towers like those more commonly seen on suspension bridges. The pier was mainly used as a landing for cargo boats bring goods to the area, although there was also a handful of attractions on the boardwalk as well, however nothing to the extent that are seen on Brighton’s subsequent piers. Extending over a thousand feet into the bay, the pier was a popular port while sea travel remained the easiest form of cargo transport.
In the 1840s, a railway finally extended itself to the area and the deliveries to the pier dwindled. As shipping business at the pier disappeared, its function as a visitor attraction became more essential, however the space was simply not built to maximize this aspect. With the construction of the West Pier in 1866, built specifically to be an entertainment and shopping venue, the Chain Pier had outlived its usefulness.
When a third amusement pier was suggested it was approved under the condition that the ramshackle old Chain Pier by taken down first. Yet quitting before it could be fired, the pier simply washed away in a huge storm in 1896. Today the only remains of the once bustling pier are the petrified wooden pilings and their huge stone supports that reappear only on low tide.
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