One of the most fundamental, but also one of the most exciting, aspects of the i360 project is being able to work closely with the West Pier Trust.
As guardians of everything that remains of the Old Lady, including the onshore site, the island structure, and its surviving artefacts, the Trust is de facto custodians of a huge piece of Brighton and Hove’s heritage.
Our involvement with the West Pier Trust began when Glynn Jones, chairman of the West Pier Trust, heard of architects Marks Barfield’s plans to erect a new observation attraction in Brighton and approached David Marks with the proposal of the West Pier’s onshore site.
Having been closely involved in the Heritage Lottery bid to restore the pier, witnessed its destruction in the fire of 2003, and the project’s subsequent loss of funding, Glynn was searching for alternative ways of restoring the site.
Glynn saw that Marks Barfield’s vision for the i360, as a vertical pier, followed in the spirit of the original pier. It would allow visitors to ‘walk on air’ and gain a different perspective of the city, just as they may have walked on water in the past.
The i360 will also return parts of the pier to its former glory, restoring and reinstating a large proportion of the surviving original materials:
- The original East Tollbooth (pictured above) will be lovingly restored and then function once more as a working tollbooth for the i360 ride – in almost exactly the same place as before. It will be restored and joined by a replica of the West Tollbooth, which was removed from the site in the early 1980s.
- The beautiful cast iron columns that have been hidden under the fenced off structure at the ‘root end’ of the pier will be used once again as columns inside the publically accessible visitor centre on the beach level at the i360.
- The columns on the beach, popular with slackliners, will return once construction is complete in a publically accessible landscaping scheme adjacent to west of the i360 site and adjacent to the newly restored arches.
- The West Pier Trust is also hoping to restore and reinstate an original octagonal 1866 kiosk to the east of the i360 site. Excitingly, it is planned that this will become the West Pier Heritage Centre, where people can come and learn about the pier.
Going forward, a proportion of ticket revenues from the i360 will go to the West Pier Trust to support its heritage and educational works.
Today marks the end of the dismantling phase: all of the cast iron columns have been carefully removed and put into storage to keep them safe until they’re needed again, and, right on schedule, the ground is now ready to begin the construction phase. We’ll be sure to keep you updated every step of the way.