The barbed wire proves an easy deterrent to navigate as we slip casually around the locked and pinned steel gate wrapped in evil bubble wrap. Looking back at the dark promenade, we double check for onlookers before three would-be-spies steal on to Brighton’s most iconic nautical landmark.
Darting along a steel reinforced walkway we traverse the first narrow length of pier with ease, quickly arriving at the broken shell of the first hulking wooden skeleton; a once ornate space for the south-coasts’ elite, now a rotting and peeling carapace of it’s former glory, but still structurally sound and oozing a classy Victorian façade half hidden by mold and erosion.
We flank the hall by way of an outer walkway and slowly approach the second thin length of pier, but no re-enforced steel here, just saturated wood and cooing pigeons settling in for the night. Crouching on all fours we spread ourselves out and work along the brown-turned-green planks, one by one, step by step, passing deep-red rusting iron chairs where once sat royalty.
We stop at the main hall, a catastrophic mess of mangled wood and twisted wrought iron, of derelict materials strewn by the high sea winds, of a million birds nests perched on every protrusion possible, and it’s a sobering moment to behold. We cower out of the cool night wind as blue moonlight streams through gaping holes in the roof, the eerie spotlights casting ghostly shadows within the beaten and broken shell. The ancient flooring creaks nervously as we lizard-crawl onward, now passing large black holes descending down to the crashing waves beneath. A fall now would be certain death.
We push forwards, focused on the final few meters out to the very edge of Brighton’s iconic West Pier, now so far off the promenade all we can hear is the roar of the wind and crashing of the sea far below. Sliding my head through the very last black Victorian grating I settle in to a smile, and with the cold sea mist and pitch black night belittling our victory with a patronizing laugh, let the white noise take over.