Brighton’s Chain Pier

Joseph Mallord William Turner – The Chain Pier, Brighton, 1824

The Royal Suspension Chain Pier was the first major pier built in Brighton, England. Built in 1823, it was destroyed during a storm in 1896.

Generally known as the Chain Pier, it was designed by Captain Samuel Brown rn and built in 1823. Brown had completed the Trinity Chain Pier in Edinburgh in 1821. The pier was primarily intended as a landing stage for packet boats to Dieppe, France, but it also featured a small number of attractions including a camera obscura. An esplanade with an entrance toll-booth controlled access to the pier which was roughly in line with the New Steine. Turner and Constable both made paintings of the pier, King William IV landed on it, and it was even the subject of a song.

The Chain Pier co-existed with the later West Pier, but a condition to build the Palace Pier was that the builders would dismantle the Chain Pier. They were saved this task by a storm which destroyed the already closed and decrepit pier on 4 December 1896.

John Constable – The Chain Pier, Brighton, 1824-1827

The remains of some of the pier’s oak piles could be seen at low tides around 2010, however, as of 2021, they are no longer visible. Masonry blocks can still be seen. The signal cannon of the pier is still intact, as are the entrance kiosks which are now used as small shops on the Palace Pier.

Clem Lambert – Brighton, 1896

Joseph Mallord William Turner – The Chain Pier, Brighton, 1828