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West Pier Newsletter 
July/August/September 2021


The famous Attenborough family name is associated with the West Pier once again, 52 years after Richard, Lord Attenborough filmed Oh! What A Lovely War on the historic Grade I-listed structure.

Now his son, the acclaimed theatre director Michael Attenborough CBE, has joined the board of the West Pier Trust. A former Principal Associate Director and Executive Producer of the Royal Shakespeare Company and Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre, Michael was educated in Brighton at the University of Sussex, where his father later became Chancellor, and where he met his first wife, Hollywood actress Jane Seymour, during filming on the pier.

“You don’t have to look hard to see Brighton running through the rock of the Attenborough family,” he said. “Dad came to prominence in Brighton Rock [in 1947], and Oh! What a Lovely War was his first directing job. By sheer coincidence I went to Sussex to study English and had the time of my life, getting to know Brighton very well. It was a fast-moving time of my life and I consider Brighton home.”

Most recently he has scaled back his work as a director to concentrate on teaching and training - in schools (particularly through the Artists in Residence scheme, where he is their Patron), three universities and several drama schools. As Trust members will know, our current focus is on the restoration of one of the pier’s original kiosks for community and educational use. 

“Everyone assumes that the Attenborough family is a group of people who can’t wait to get on a screen or a stage,” Michael said. “The truth is that our roots are in education. My grandfather was self-educated but became a Cambridge don and later principal of University College, Leicester and it was his ambition to turn it into a full-fledged university, which he achieved in 1952.

“I have a passionate commitment to the Arts as a vital and underrated part of education, and we will pay the price if we allow them to be undervalued. Helping children to communicate, collaborate and express themselves has untold benefits and anything that fosters that immediately goes to my heart. So the prospect of fusing my family history and my belief in education was irresistible.”


Suitable for all ages, the weekend walks are full of facts, characters and fun. They start outside the West Pier Centre, 103-105 Kings Road Arches, Brighton BN1 2FN, east of BAi360, every Saturday and Sunday at 10am and 5pm. 

You can book online at Eventbrite - Brighton West Pier Trust to secure your place, or just turn up. The tours are free for children 12 and under and just £5 for everyone else.  



The Trust is delighted to announce that Sussex artist Sarah Mitchener’s exhibition at the West Pier Centre is to continue until September.

Visitors who were unable to visit during the five weekends of the Brighton Artists’ Open Houses now have further opportunities to catch Sarah’s varied and impressive work – giclée prints, original monotypes, sketches and paintings in watercolour and mixed media, many with a beachfront theme.

“People would know me more for trees and landscapes but I have tried to theme this exhibition around the sea, the shore, the pier, the beach and some Downs,” Sarah said. “Anybody from Sussex will resonate with it.

“Most of the rest of the work is what you would see if you came to my house, original paintings and prints, and a selection of giclée prints.”

The most popular item for Open Houses was a specially-created image of the pier, available in a variety of colour combinations. “That started off as a monotype, a printing technique that yields only one good impression. But I liked the image so much that I scanned it into my computer and re-coloured it digitally.”

Sarah, although not art-school trained, has been selected twice for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition and was a finalist in 2019. Both images, Hove Seafront With Fret (2017) and Tempest Fields, Firle (2019) are available as prints. She has also been a finalist in the Sussex Life Landscape Artist of the year competition and is an elected member of the Sussex Watercolour Society. 

“They include some very well-known artists like Shirley Trevena and Kate Osborne and they took me under their wing early on,” she says. “Shirley invited me to exhibit with her in Nottingham in 2019. It was wonderful to have work hanging alongside [that of] one of my painting idols. 

“I have been in Open Houses before and I like to support charities as well. For the past two years I have been in the YMCA’s offices in Hove but they’re not open this year. So I was delighted to be here in the West Pier Centre. It feels very fresh and airy.”


Punch and Judy’s Staycation Celebration’ will be visiting the West Pier Piazza on Aug 20th and 21st for traditional seaside fun.

Brighton’s world travelled Punch and Judy ‘Professor’ Glyn Edwards will be joined by British Asian Punch & Judy performer, Aftab Khan, whose Professor Patel's Bollywood Punjeet and Judy-gee Show  is an imaginative modern day twist on the traditional favourite.

The two days will also feature ‘Sir Scanalot’s QRcade’: a novel graphic display which re-imagines penny arcade machines as windows to the past and links via QR codes to archive footage of the West Pier and material from the collection of Screen Archive South East.

The event is presented by The Fedora Group (the West Pier Trust’s education partner) with support from Lottery Heritage Fund. 


When Len Goldman was a boy in Brighton he liked nothing better that going down to the sea.
The star attraction for him was the West Pier, then near the height of its popularity. He said it was like an adventure playground. Half a century later after a varied career involving much moving, he returned to Brighton and was relieved to see that many of the places he remembered, including his former home in Powis Square, were still there.
But when he walked along the seafront, he was horrified to find that the pier he had loved as a child was now closed and crumbling. He immediately joined the West Pier Trust and remained an energetic member for most of his extraordinarily long life.
Many people will recall him as a teacher who inspired them with his love of history and English.
A committed trades unionist, he was proud to have been made a life member of the National Union of Teachers.
He was also a communist of the Utopian kind, believing fervently that all children should have an equal start. This made him a vocal critic of selective education.
Len wrote three entertaining booklets on his life and was working on a fourth. He was also a poet and when he joined the Great Dieppe Trip of left wingers on their annual jaunt to meet French fellow travellers, his verses would always be a highlight at the banquet.
Even in extreme old age he was full of energy, with a strong voice and a firm handshake. He loved the Sunday afternoon concerts given by the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra and was a member of the University of the Third Age.
He went up the i360 observation tower on his hundredth birthday and enjoyed seeing his beloved pier from another angle.
Aided by his indefatigable wife Rita and trying to combat increasing deafness, Len lived to be 104 and remained persistently optimistic. Few who met him will ever forget him.

Back to Blue

“Back to Blue” is the latest single from Emma and the Fragments, ahead of their upcoming sophomore EP Smile ‘Til It Hurts, which is headed for a 2021 release.  
Using Brighton’s West Pier as its central inspiration, “Back to Blue” draws a straight line between the broken down, waterlogged structure and the abandoned shipwreck of a past love.  
Just like the tide, the singer’s thoughts are pulled back to her old relationship again and again, and we are pulled under with her as she attempts to fight the current.  
Sombre, sleek and utterly contemporary, “Back to Blue'' effortlessly evokes a kind of pared-back gothic melodrama, where romance and tragedy both lurk side by side in the dark water. 
Emma and the Fragments’ links:
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Brighton West Pier Trust · West Pier · 103 - 105 Kings Road Arches · Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2FN · United Kingdom 
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Brighton West Pier Trust · West Pier · King's Road · Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2FL · United Kingdom

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