Brighton

The barbed wire proves an easy deterrent to navigate as we casually slip around the locked and pinned steel gate. Looking back at the dark promenade we double check for onlookers. Empty. Had there been any passers-by, they would have witnessed an unusual scene for 3 in the morning; three would-be-spies stealing on to Brighton’s most iconic nautical landmark, the West Pier.

Alone in Thought

Barnaby Jaco Skinner / Nikon D90 / 80 - 200 f2.8
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Darting along a steel reinforced walkway, we traverse the first narrow length of pier with ease, arriving at the broken shell of the first hulking wooden dome. Once an ornate space for the south-coast’s elite, the skeleton is now just a rotting, peeling carapace of it’s former glory. It oozes classy Victorian façade, albeit half-hidden by mould and erosion. It must have been something very special in it’s heyday.

The Royal Pavilion

Barnaby Jaco Skinner / Nikon D700 / 14 - 24 f2.8
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We flank the hall by way of an outer walkway and slowly approach a 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.

The Palace Pier, actually

Barnaby Jaco Skinner / Nikon D4 / 35 f1.4
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It’s slow going. lizard crawling in the pitch black on rotting wood forces me to pull out my Nokia 3310 in an attempt to light the way. The ice-cold wind has similar motives, gripping my fingers and prising the object d’art away, pulling it down to the depths below. The little white light dies away quickly, never to be seen again.

A Soft Landing

Barnaby Jaco Skinner / Nikon D700 / 70 - 200 f2.8
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After what seems like an eternity we arrive 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 visible.

The Other End

Barnaby Jaco Skinner / Nikon D300s / 35 f1.4
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It’s a sobering moment to behold. Cowering out of the cold night wind, blue moonlight streams through gaping holes in the roof, eerie spotlights casting ghostly shadows within the beaten and broken frame. The ancient flooring creaks nervously as we push onward, passing large black holes descending down to the crashing waves beneath. A fall now would be certain death.

Rock Shop With A Sea View

Barnaby Jaco Skinner / Nikon D90 / 50 f1.4
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We push forwards with a single-minded focus, out to the very end of Brighton’s iconic West Pier. We’re now so far off the promenade all we can hear is the roar of the wind and crashing of sea far below.

Couch Surfing

Barnaby Jaco Skinner / Nikon D90 / 50 f1.4
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Sliding my head through the last Victorian grating I settle in to a smile, and with the cold sea mist and pitch black night belittling our victory with a patronising laugh, allow the white noise to take over.

Brighton beach

Barnaby Jaco Skinner / Nikon D4 / 500 f4
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BARNABY JACO SKINNER

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All content copyright Barnaby Jaco Skinner 2018

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