A giant £38 million observation tower has received a funding boost – but how new is the idea?

The i360 , near Brighton’s West Pier , is expected to attract up to 800,000 visitors a year and create more than 400 jobs.

To kick-start the project, Brighton and Hove City Council has agreed to loan the firm, Brighton i360 Ltd, £17.8 million.

This includes £3 million from the Coast to Capital local enterprise partnership, an organisation designed to boost business in the region.

However, a reel from British Pathe has emerged with images of a design virtually identical to that of the i360.

In 1964, three entrepreneurs - Captain Raymond Phillips, Charles Smith-Bingham and John Bickford-Smith – gathered to discuss a project in one of their homes.

The reel shows them talking about a proposed Brighton Observation Tower between the town’s two piers.

Historian Geoffrey Mead said: “It was one of the great schemes that Brighton comes up with now and again. I do not think it ever went past the drawing board.”

The Argus was tipped off about the reel by a reader.

Despite those plans failing to come to fruition, Marks Barfield, the firm behind the London Eye, was convinced its i360 plans could work.

The loan agreement for the latest plans received cross-party backing at a meeting of the council’s influential policy and resources committee meeting last week.

Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “I think this is a great project and I’m very excited by it.

“It’s a big opportunity to regenerate this part of town which is long overdue.”

Coun Kitcat added it was not taxpayers’ money as the council would be borrowing the cash and passing it to the developers under a process in the Government’s Localism Act.

Private backing

The remaining £20 million will come from private backers.

David Marks, of Mark Barfield, said: “The unanimous decision to provide a commercial loan to the i360 means we can create a new way of looking at the city while providing a real lift for the local economy.”

Work is expected to start by the end of this year with the opening set for March 2015.

Businesses have generally backed the idea.

A spokesman for The Grand hotel said: “We’re delighted to see new additions to the range of attractions. It’s a positive addition and a great way to encourage visitors.”

Anne Martin, the general manager of the Palace Pier , said: “Anything that brings business to Brighton seafront is good news. It is a completely different product to the pier so anything that attracts visitors is good for us.”

What do you think about the i360 plans? Write to our letters page, email letters@theargus.co.uk or leave a comment at theargus.co.uk/news