Front cover of a book on Brighton's chain pier, 1897.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The pier was built at a cost of £30,000 in response to increased traffic to the Continent. Brighton was the busiest English cros-Channel port for a time, with steamships operating daily to Dieppe. Promenaders were charged admision to see the attractions which included a camera obscura. Painted by Constable and Turner, it was the first pleasure pier. Its decline started with the opening of the railway to Newhaven in 1847, and the new Aquarium and West Pier attracted customers away. A great storm on 4 December 1896 completely destroyed the pier, and wreckage damaged the new Palace Pier, as well as the West Pier and Volk's Electric Railway. Illustrated cover of 'The Brighton chain pier' by John George Bishop, published in Brighton in 1897.