THE renaming of the pier is a victory for people power.

That is the verdict from the great and good of the city as The Argus today exclusively reveals the pier’s new signage.

Luke Johnson decided to change the name to Brighton Palace Pier shortly after he bought the 117-year-old attraction in April last year.

It was the result of a 17-year battle after previous owners the Noble Organisation changed its name to Brighton Pier.

The Argus was at the forefront of the struggle to get the name changed with thousands backing our campaign Put the Palace back in our Pier.

Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion MP, said it was a victory for popular local opinion.

She said: “This is wonderful news. I have no doubt the Palace Pier will last for another 120 years and more – and I look forward to seeing the new sign with the right name on it.

“Brighton residents overwhelmingly wanted this name change and I was pleased to join them in making representations to the new owner.”

Argus columnist Adam Trimingham praised this newspaper for “helping restore the palace name”.

He said: “The Argus gave its staff instructions to keep on referring to the Palace Pier along with everyone else.

“It campaigned for the palace to be brought back into the title and now the new owner has done just that.

“Brighton Pier implied there was only one pier in the resort.

“Maybe there will be a new West Pier one day. In the meantime we can celebrate having the proper name back on the Palace Pier.”

Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, added: “Some of us have been calling for this for years, and it is great to see it finally happen. We can’t restore the West Pier, sadly, but we can restore the name of our other much-loved pier. Welcome back.”

Lucy Pearce, editor of The Argus, said the decision to change the name showed what was possible when a community works together with its local newspaper.

She said: “On behalf of our community we have been at the forefront of the campaign to see the return of the palace to our pier for many years.

“We were thrilled when Mr Johnson agreed he would be changing the name and we are certain it will be a huge success.”

Pier manager Anne Martin said hundreds submitted their entries to a competition to design the new sign.

She said: “It just shows how important the pier is to the people of Brighton and Hove. There were so many good entries but I think the winning entry really stood out. It is modern, practical and exactly what the judges were looking for.

“We can’t wait to see it up.”


BRIGHTON Palace Pier has been at the heart of all that is good about our city for 117 years.

It has survived two world wars, the Great Storm of 1987 and even an attempted IRA bomb attack.

Throughout it has stood there – a sparkling symbol of unadulterated fun and innocence.

And now, thanks to the new owner Luke Johnson, its reincarnation as Brighton Pier will be but a blip in its glorious history.

Today’s official renaming marks the end of 17-year campaign, which The Argus has been at the forefront of.

It dates back to the turn of the millennium when previous owners The Noble Organisation sparked outrage by getting workers to remove the Palace Pier sign.

To the horror of Brighton residents they replaced it with the Brighton Pier signage.

Noble’s bosses argued it was important for marketing and promotional purposes.

But you were having none of it.

Our postbag was bulging every day with letters of disgust.

“Who do they think they are to come down here and change the name of our pier,” one person wrote.

“It has always been known as the Palace Pier. You can’t just change history,” another said.

This newspaper refused to recognise the new name and continued to refer to it as the Palace Pier. The National Piers Society agreed.

It was ludicrous. You wouldn’t buy the Eiffel Tower and then rename it Paris Tower or take over the Colosseum and call it the Rome Arena.

We put pressure on the pier’s owners and demanded it was returned to its original name. But they stood firm, arguing it was for the good of the pier and the city.

Eleven years after the name change we picked up the pace and launched our Put the Palace back in our Pier campaign.

Councillors, MPs, celebrities and thousands of you got behind us. But still Noble bosses would not budge.

So when it was announced that Mr Johnson had bought the attraction in April last year we got straight on the phone to him.

We kickstarted the campaign again and issued a call to arms.

The entrepreneur was taken aback by the strength of public feeling and to the relief of everybody he announced the Palace would be put back into the pier.

Speaking yesterday, he said: “I decided to change the name because we wanted the pier to reflect its history, and we understood the strength of local feeling over it.

“The pier will go from strength to strength. It had an excellent summer last year, and with new features and offerings in the pipeline for 2017, we are confident this will be another great season – especially since Brighton itself has more attractions for visitors than ever.”

Anne Martin, the pier’s manager, agrees. She said: “It is an exciting time for us and this competition has shown just how much the pier means to the people of Brighton and Hove.”

This marks the start of a new chapter for the pier, which, outside London, is one of the country’s best known landmarks.

It has appeared in countless films, TV programmes and works of art. It is also one of the most photographed landmarks in Europe. Unfortunately for the last 17 years, these photos have been tainted by the flashing Brighton Pier lights.

But no more. Brighton Pier is dead. Long live Brighton Palace Pier.


WHEN building work first started on the Palace Pier the world was a very different place.

Queen Victoria was still on the throne, Britain had an empire and the names Hitler and Mussolini meant nothing.

It was 1891 when the people of Brighton gathered to hammer in the pier’s first pile.

But it would be another eight years before it was opened to the public.

It was an instant hit, with Londoners travelling down by the train-load, and within a couple of years a concert hall was added, followed by a theatre.

Much to the frustration of Brightonians it was closed during the Second World War as it was feared the Germans could use it as a makeshift harbour for invasion.

Even sections of decking were removed as a precaution.

But with victory in Europe secured it returned to enjoy something of a golden age. Performers queued up to stage their summer shows, with stars such as Dick Emery, Tommy Trinder and Doris and Elsie Waters performing there.

It also became a popular location for films, with Carry On At Your Convenience (1971) and Quadrophenia (1979) among those to shoot on the pier.

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

In 1973 a 70-tonne barge smashed into it during a storm and damaged the theatre. There were fears that night the pier would collapse into the sea but thankfully Mother Nature took pity.

The damaged theatre was never used again but it was another 15 years before it was finally removed.

The Great Storm of 1987 tested its foundations as did Patrick Magee when the bomb he planted in The Grand shook the seafront.

In the early 1990s it was the main target of another IRA bomb but thankfully the device was found and defused.

The renaming debacle kicked off at the turn of the millennium.

All in all, the pier has certainly seen a lot over the years and will likely outlive us all. So here’s to the next 117 years of colourful entertainment.