i360 construction latest, Profile of Audrey Simpson,  Public Consultation, The Silence of Snow, West Pier Cast Iron Material,  
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The Pier at Sunset, February 2015

photo by Jamie Pryer


You may have noticed the tall machinery on site - this is the piling rig which will be drilling the foundations of the i360. A full description of what's involved is here on the i360 blog. The team has listed 26 benefits the attraction will be bringing to Brighton - well worth a read!
It's disappointing that the Brighton Wheel  has applied to extend its temporary planning permission. It was always the deal that the wheel would come down before the i360 starts operating. i360 will be supporting the Trust and ploughing its profits back into the city -  its success will be the city's success. It seems that the wheel wants to piggyback on that success. Read more about this and other i360 build news here in the latest i360 newsletter.

Audrey Simpson

We’re continuing with our quest to acquaint you with the enormous talents and unique experience of the dedicated individuals who make up the Board of the West Pier Trust. This month we meet the irrepressible Audrey Simpson, cultural visionary and epitome of effortless elegance, she is one of the Trust’s longest standing members. Her interests are eclectic, ranging over business, law, education, tourism, the hospitality industry, provision of health, responsible development and conservation of the city.  Audrey’s hobbies include theatre, film, reading, writing, travel, food and wine.

Born in Crewe, Audrey’s young life was blighted by illness including TB resulting in long term hospitalisation. It is characteristic of her spirit and energy that despite receiving little education until the age of 11, she went on to study at the LSE, gaining a BSC in Social Anthropology and all at a time when she was raising two children and supporting her husband’s political career as GLC councillor, Alderman and later, parliamentary candidate. In 1972 Audrey began a career in higher education, lecturing at Bromley College. Summers were spent touring the West Country and France in the family caravan and on one particular trip strolling along the Camber Sands with her husband, a defining and life-changing moment occurred when she decided to turn a nagging idea into a reality, chuck it all in and buy a hotel.

Brighton in 1978 retained its traditional bucket and spade reputation with the seafront populated by shabby B&B’s, increasingly relied on by the Department of Health and Social Security for housing and managed by some unscrupulous landlords. Against this backdrop, Audrey invested in 124 Kings Road, a run-down seafront property overlooking the West Pier, armed only with a loan agreed on astronomical post-IMF interest rates and scant experience of the hotel trade. Settling the family in the basement amongst leaking pipes, trade access and utility meters, she set about transforming the fourteen bedroom property into Brighton’s first boutique hotel, The Granville. The early meetings of the West Pier Society were held in Audrey’s hotel.  Over time, Audrey secured two further properties next door and continued to transform each of the 28 rooms into individually themed, luxury en-suites honouring Brighton’s rich heritage with names such as The West Pier Room, The Brighton Rock room, Pavilion Room and Mr Kemp room. The hotel’s 120 seat French restaurant Trogs became such a game-changing beacon of sophistication on the Brighton restaurant scene that Audrey was recruited onto the Argus editorial team as its restaurant critic for over 20 years.

For many, the idea of running a hotel and raising a family would be enough to raise the heart rate, but for Audrey, this was an adjunct to serving on a multitude of local business and community forums including twenty-eight years as a J P, Chair of the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, Chair of Brighton Hoteliers, vice Chair of the Regency Society and member on the Mayor’s Charities Fund Raising Committee.  A previous trustee and long-time supporter of the Martlets and Beacon hospices,  Audrey became a member of the West Pier Trust upon arrival in Brighton in 1978 and her direct view of the Pier from the various bedrooms of her hotel fostered dismay as it was left to crumble in ensuing years. She describes a tumult of emotions over the decades from enthusiastic campaigner to despairing local resident and from soaring optimist with the award of the Heritage Lottery grant to utter disbelief and anguish at its ultimate demise. But the concept of obstacles and complications are not ones that the indefatigable Audrey has time for and she is a champion of the i360 as an iconic and bold structure that in the long-term, could lead to a new sea-based pier. Something she would love to see as ‘unashamedly modern’!.

Audrey is a tour de force; astonishingly youthful and glamorous and still active on numerous committees and charities. She declares she will be relinquishing many of her posts in favour of pursuing her personal interests which include funding charity dinners supporting education in Bosnia and holding play readings for children with special needs. To our relief, she has no intention of resigning from the Trust and has promised to delay her 80th birthday celebration until the completion of the i360 which she intends to celebrate with a grand party up the tower. We think some pretty special fireworks would be in order.



New Pier Options - the consultation 

We received lots of imaginative and intriguing responses to our online questionnaire. We are now bringing together the views of all our respondents - Trust members, local amenity groups and businesses and the general public. These will go into a report which we aim to publish on our website in May. The next stage of the process will be to start work on the development brief for a new pier to be ready for the interested parties from whom we expect to hear  once the i360 is up and running.

The Silence of Snow - the life of Patrick Hamilton

Those of you who saw Matt Thompson's version of Patrick Hamilton's classic 'The West Pier' will be interested in the show he's producing for this year's Brighton Fringe. It was very well received at its runs last year at the Edinburgh Fringe and London's Old Red Lion. Matt writes:

'We are producing a one man show on Patrick Hamilton called The Silence of Snow, written and performed by Mark Farrelly and directed by Linda Marlowe. It will play at the new Rialto Theatre at 11 Dyke Road, BN1 3FE 21-24 and 28-31 May at 6.30pm. 

'Patrick Hamilton was one of the most celebrated English playwrights/novelists of the 1930's (Rope, Gaslight,Hangover Square, The West Pier). His witty, bleak, drink-sodden writing brilliantly penetrates the dark core of the human psyche.

'But alcoholism and a chaotic personal life took their toll on Hamilton's output, leaving him unjustly negleted in the canon of English literature. Now his extraordinary true story is told in this biting, fast-paced solo show that blends new writing with extracts from a range of Hamilton's finest works


West Pier Cast Iron Material

We regularly receive enquiries about whether The Trust will be selling any more damaged or surplus cast iron pieces from the pier.The answer is probably yes. We'll know in the next few weeks whether some more material will be available and when it will go on sale. News will be posted on social media feeds. All monies raised will go into the designated heritage and education fund and will be all the more welcome now we are exploring best ways of raising the necessary funds to restore the original pier kiosk as the West Pier heritage centre

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