Brighton Chain Pier after the removal of the Esplanade, 1871
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
From a photograph by Edward Fox. Steamships left the pier daily for Dieppe, and promenaders were charged admision to see the attractions which included a camera obscura. Painted by Constable and Turner, it was the first pleasure pier. The pier's decline started with the opening of the railway to Newhaven in 1847, and the new Aquarium, built on the site of the esplanade and toll-house and opened in 1872, 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. Illustration from 'The Brighton chain pier' by John George Bishop, published in Brighton in 1897.