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Culture: Brighton's Piers

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The Chain Pier's Construction

The Coupled Iron Bars that formed
the Chain of the Chain Pier
This photo shows the chains
at the pier head end of the pier.

The Chain Pier was designed and built by Captain Samuel Brown, a royal navy engineer, who lived in Marine Parade. In 1817 Brown had patented the "bar chain" for use in the construction of suspension bridges. The bar chain system made the chain out of straight wrought iron bars between 5 and 15 feet long with eyes cast or drilled at each end. The eyes were then coupled using bolts.

The Chain Pier was started in October 1822 and opened in November 1823.

The suspension towers were made of cast iron. They had three main sections: two vertical and one horizontal. The sections were made of cast iron plates which were riveted and cemented together using 'iron cement'. The vertical sections were 25 feet tall, stood 10 feet apart, and each weighed about 15 tons. The towers were supported on oak piles - about 20 of them - which were driven about 10 feet into the seabed. They stood about 13 feet above the high water mark.

The pier head formed a T section with the main body of the pier. The pier head was 80 feet by 40 feet in area and was supported by 150 vertical oak piles, which were cross-braced with diagonal piles. The pier head platform was paved with Purbeck granite about 12 inches thick and weighing in total about 200 tons.

The Chain Pier

View of Chain Pier from the Pier Head
At very low tides it is possible to see the stumps of the oak piles that supported the pier. That's all that remains of the Chain Pier today. The Pier was sited in line with what is today Madeira Colonade, to the east of the present concrete groyne in that area of the beach.

 

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