Royal Chain Pier, Brighton


Aquatint engraving by Thomas Sutherland after the Brighton artist Joseph Cordwell. Published by Cordwell 1 June 1824.

The reading room and library at the land end of the pier has the small Piermaster’s house just this side of it. This building is now the site of the Madeira Cafe, on Madeira Drive. In any print of the Chain Pier, if the library and reading room building is included, beside that, on the western side, the Piermaster’s house is usually depicted. This print gives a good view of the toll house by the entrance gates, which changed in appearance several times. The toll collector was Mr H Ratty, who had the job from 1823, when the pier opened, until 1858. The three pillars, with the iron gates, were the entrance to the carriage road by which you accessed the pier itself from the Old Steine. This carriage entrance to the pier is the origin of our present-day Madeira Drive. There was also a pedestrian access down a wooden staircase and descent built into the chalk face of the East Cliff, shown in BPC00085.

This illustration and BPC00481 (a detail of BPC00087) show the engraving that is partly printed in colours and with added watercolour, and then an example of a black & white version where the plate is quite heavily inked. Many aquatints, when they were not intended for colouring, were strongly printed with the black ink. With aquatints intended for colouring the black ink was much lighter.

Images of Brighton 236 and illustrated on page 70.

See all images of the Chain Pier and read more about its history on the Chain Pier Gallery page

Madeira Drive. Chain Pier

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Madeira Drive. Chain Pier 50.818693, -0.134475 There are several images of this site. To see all images click here