West Pier

Queuing for the paybooth

By Jennifer Drury

 
Photo:What year was this?

What year was this?

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove


Do you know the approximate date of this photograph?

Do you remember how much it cost to go on the pier?

What sort of attractions were there?

Please post your memories in a comment below.

This page was added on 04/09/2017.
Comments about this page

Not easy to make out, but I think the poster says "Lunch and tea over the sea, Thursday 13th May 1948". I would guess that this was taken soon after the pier was reopened following WWII. I don't know how much time elapsed after reopening, but both piers had had sections of planking removed, and would have needed substantial repairs after several years of neglect. 

By Janet Beal (05/09/2017)

Again, it is odd to note how many clothes people wore in those days. It looks as though it was a clear, sunny day. A man is wearing a suit; a woman has her overcoat on and a hat. The tall woman, just underneath the 'entrance' gate is bravely wearing a dress without further covering. Except that she appears to be wearing a pair of gloves. 

By Philip Burnard (05/09/2017)

I agree with all Janet has said.  I think this photo - or one very much like it - appears in Fred Gray's book "Walking on Water".  A significant change to the post-W.W.2 pier was the conversion of the sea-end theatre building to house an amusement arcade on the ground floor and a restaurant on the first.

By Sam Flowers (05/09/2017)

For me, the most obvious attraction on the pier was on the right, just after having passed through the paybooth. This was the near oval shaped track on which petrol driven, two-seater cars were driven round and round. I liked to stand and watch these for ages. Many years passed before I was able to afford to drive one of them. I believe, also, that there was a minimum age and height restriction on drivers?  I felt that the best view of this track was from the pavement outside the pier. Perhaps this was to attract more paying visitors in. 

Once through the paybooth, the only walkway, which was on the left hand side of this track, sloped downwards. Where the walkway levelled out, probably at the far end of the car track there was an amusement machine hall with its entrance on the R.H.S. Here there was a wide range of "old" penny in the slot machines. I think this hall must have been mostly underneath the car track as I vaguely remember the rumble from the ceiling as the cars were driven round above.

Very close to this amusements hall entrance, also on the R.H.S. of the walkway, was a Walls ice cream stand. A special treat was to have a block of ice cream from there and to eat it straight from its wrapping paper or like a sandwich with a wafer biscuit on the top and underneath the block. When I eat Walls ice cream, even today, I can still recall the distinctive taste of those blocks - or is my memory playing tricks? 

During those years I went on both the Palace and West piers many times. So now, I can't be absolutely certain which of my other "pier" memories apply to which pier.

Did the makers of the film "Oh What a Lovely War" use the West Pier for quite a lot of its scenes?    

By David Robertson (05/09/2017)

They were also mined and these had to be cleared before any work could be done to mend and do up the various areas and cafes.

By Ken Ross (05/09/2017)

I know that there used to be a charge to access the Palace Pier (yes, the proper name) but I can't recall ever having to pay to get on to the West Pier.

By Jester the Clown (05/09/2017)

Hi Janet. As you say, the wording on the poster is difficult to make out. 

I think the date shown is Thursday 12th May, and the digits following the date are probably the opening time, and not the year.

By John (05/09/2017)

Hi John. I'm quite happy to be corrected. My eyesight isn't what it was! If it is Thursday the 12th May, then it must be 1949.

By Janet Beal (06/09/2017)

In the 1960's the West Pier also had an entrance fee, I think it was 6d, 2p in new money, or about 0.02 Euros at todays exchange rate!

By Peter Groves (06/09/2017)

I agree with you, John, that it shows Thursday 12th May. Having enhanced the photo as much as possible, it would appear that the year following that is 1928.

By Alan Hobden (06/09/2017)

Regarding the comment about clothing I am not so sure clothes are about the weather only. It rather looks as though people are in their Sunday best, according to their taste, and therefore anything goes. Same as now-a-days!

By Sandra Bohtlingk (06/09/2017)

Hi Alan. I doubt very much it was 1928. The fashions are definitely 1940s! There is a photograph of this event elsewhere on this website which appears to show the same event and dates it as late 40s. http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/page_id__9038_img__14451.aspx

If the event was indeed on Thursday 12th May then it must have been 1949. If it's the 13th May then the year was 1948. :)

By Janet Beal (07/09/2017)

My problem with 1948 (not a Thursday anyway) and 1949 (which was) is that the third digit of the year doesn't look like a 4. My previous suggestion, about 1928, was wrong as that would have been a Saturday.

Having looked at the enhanced photo again, I think the year might have been 1938. (12th May 1938 was a Thursday).

By Alan Hobden (07/09/2017)

The West Pier re-opened on April 18th 1946 and the Palace Pier on June 1st. The Hove Marina baths reopened as King Alfred in August.The removal of the mines from the West Pier during the war caused an accidental detonation which blinded Ken Reavis who was in charge of the Royal Engineers team. This also weakened the already in-maintained pier. The repaired section was the first to fail in the 1980s. The clothing cannot be 1920s! Undoubtedly post WWII.

By Geoffrey Mead (07/09/2017)

Being a bit pedantic here, but I wouldn't expect an advertising  poster 'of the moment' to show the year.  So, digging my heels in, I would say that the digits following the 'Thursday 12th May' text are probably the opening time!

However, assuming the photo is post WW2, then I agree with Janet's date of 1949, as that was the first year after WW2 when 12th May fell on a Thursday.  The next occurance was in 1955.

By John (07/09/2017)

Although the photo is attributed to "Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove", I cannot see it on a search of their website amongst the 71 photos of West Pier. Is there a simple explanation for this? Perhaps it has not been catalogued yet?

By Alan Hobden (09/09/2017)

Janet, just to put an end to the discussion and to admit how wrong I was initially, Fred Gray's book (as Sam indicated earlier) shows this photo on Page 67, with the caption: "Queuing to visit the pier, May 1949". The photo was therefore taken on Thursday 12th May 1949. 

By Alan Hobden (13/09/2017)

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