West Pier

Did You Know?

Information from the original 1994 'My Brighton' exhibit

West Pier attractions
Among the first attractions of the West Pier was a minature cannon fired exactly at noon by the action of the sun's rays, reflected by a burning glass. Other attractions were the skull of a whale washed ashored in January 1882 and in 1890 a performing flea circus, which was decribed as 'highly amusing and instructive'.

Between the wars
Between the wars the West Pier was used by day trippers to and from France - and even had resident customs officials.

Location of a film
In 1968 the West Pier was used for filming in Richard Attenborough's directing debut, 'Oh! What A lovely War!'

This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
In 1988 a film was made called 'Fruit Machine' where two gay teenagers run away to Brighton after seeing a murder. One of the teenagers spends a lot of time at the Dolphinarium. The film also contains scenes filmed in the West Pier concert hall. More information can be found at http://www.switchboard.org.uk/brighton/youth/faq.htm#videos and at http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0095183/
By Iain Gowers (16/03/2004)
Another film is 'Carry on Girls' with Sid James, about a seaside trip, filmed on the West Pier.
By David (19/10/2004)
Some parts of QUADROPHENIA were also filmed in Brighton, including a view of the West Pier in the early morning.
By Nils (13/11/2004)
The fortune tellers booth: My mother told me the other day she went to the West Pier in the 50s to visit Madame Binnie. Madame Binnie told her she would meet a tall dark man who would make her laugh, she would be married within the year and later have a girl and a boy. As she left she warned her to be careful of stairs. Mum remembers being very cynical as she was not at all interested in marriage, however the very next day she fell top to bottom on the stairs at Waterloo station. After this she met my father (tall and funny!), they fell madly in love and married within three months. They then had me followed by my brother! Interestingly enough Madame Binnie's booth is the only remaining intact structure on the skeleton of the pier. Does anyone else know of any stories of Madame Binnie, maybe she has some relatives who can shed some light? What an amazing woman!
By Helen Goss (16/01/2005)

For Helen Goss regarding your posting about Madame Binny: I am Sarah, her grand daughter. I hope you are still checking this site!

By Sarah (17/11/2007)

Sarah, it was lovely to see your response, so glad you saw it. I wonder did you inherit the gift at all? Best wishes.

By Helen Goss (04/02/2008)

Helen, yes,  her daughter (my mother) certainly did inherit the gift and I have my moments! I am the proud possessor of Binny's crystal ball which occupies pride of place. I don't know if you are aware that she died tragically quite 'young'. I am so pleased you saw my reply!

By Sarah (09/02/2008)

Re Alan Scarratt. I remember Bill Tarling well. He was also manager of a hotel in one of the well-to-do squares, but I can't remember its name. He also used to drink with me and a guy called Stanley Dee from Bloomsbury in London. We used to stay at what was then the Marine Hotel around 1962/3/4. I used to be able to park my car almost outside the hotel. There was a bar on the end of the West Pier (Captains Cabin?) and we would have a few beers in there with Bill. Happy, happy days and far removed from the Brighton of today. Great story Alan. All the best.

By Don Prescott (14/10/2011)

Great to read the stories shared of the West Pier. I too had many happy times on the pier and especially remember as a young girl in the 60's going to the Old Tyme Music Hall with my Nan. Also have a recollection of an amusement game in one of the pavilions where the prize was a goldfish, if you won! Will now ask Mum if she remembers Madame Binny. Best wishes to all.

By Jennifer (24/06/2013)

I wonder if anyone remembers the scene shot at the West Pier in the 1971 movie "Villain" with Richard Burton.

By Sedat Nemli (29/09/2014)

Mum frequented Madame Binny on the West Pier in the 50s, and often told how she got emotional support from her. 

By Richard White (03/11/2015)

Madame Binny was a true physic. She told me I would leave England for a foreign country within six weeks, never to return. That happened without any plans from me. Unbelievable! 

By Helen Danache (19/01/2016)

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