Fascinating photos offer a glimpse of 1950s holidays in Brighton

Oh we did like to be beside the seaside! Fascinating photos offer glimpse into holidays of yesteryear as workers hurry to get Brighton Pier ready in the 1950s

  • The fascinating photos show people in Brighton preparing the town for the Easter and summer holiday season
  • A man is shown painting the pier, while another nails in wooden boards and women make Brighton Rock
  • The pictures were taken in 1952 on Brighton Pier and in the town when it was still recovering from WWII

Stunning photos show preparations on Brighton Pier for the 1952 summer and Easter holidays.

Snapped in March that year, the shots show dozens of people beavering away to get the iconic pier and whole town ready.

The evocative pictures show one engineer tucked away inside a jukebox making delicate last-minute repairs, bold painters risking life and limb to repair the town’s iconic pier, and deckchair attendants ensuring their loungers were in good working order.

Brighton pier was stripped of its boards in places as it was feared the German’s could use it for an invasion. A man is pictured helping to hammer wooden boards back onto the pier in March 1952

The pier is pictured as it looks today. It even has the same-style barricades that it had more than six decades earlier

A brave man hangs over the side of the pier to paint it, while another stays on the ‘safe side’. Amazingly, the barriers are still the same style today as they were in 1952. The building on the pier labelled ‘Deck Cafe’ is also still there, as are some of the houses on the seafront. The same area as it looks today is pictured above in this sliding image

This sign for the pier’s attractions is one of several being repaired in this photo. Brighton’s arcades are famous, with many people enjoying the chance to spend one and two pence coins in them

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Another set of lip-smacking photos show workers creating the legendary ‘Brighton Rock’ – a must have for tourists young and old alike on their visit to the coast.

The remarkable photos evoke memories of donkey rides on the beach, greasy fish and chips on a bench facing the sea, and gaudy Punch and Judy shows drawing crowds along the promenade – perhaps a product of their time.

In 1952, Brighton like much of the country was still getting back on its feet after the war and the Pier Pavilion was starting to look back to its best. Just a few years previously it had been stripped of all its boardwalks as there had been mounting fears the Germans may have used it as a landing platform.

Stonemasons help bring the town up to scratch in time for the holiday season. Behind them former royal residence Brighton Pavilion’s archway can be seen

Stonemasons also worked on the roof of the Brighton Pavilion (Pictured) to get it ready for the upcoming holidays

Brighton Pier even had a ghost train in 1952 these pictures reveal. Back then it cost just one sixpence, or 60 pence today

Another iconic attraction in Brighton is the seafront train. (Pictured) The train is driven up the line with happy passengers as the crossing lights are repaired. A sign warns people to ‘Beware of the Trains’

The tram still runs up and down the track today (pictured) and is hugely popular with many tourists visiting Brighton Pier

Even though airfares became increasingly affordable throughout the 1950s and 60s, a trip to the seaside was still a staple for most families lucky enough to get a break. On a sunny day in Brighton, the town was swamped with people from all over south-east England, and especially from London.

Usually families would stay in a seafront guesthouse or a ‘Hi-De-Hi’ style holiday camp, which offered a brief respite before the children would be back on the beach building sand castles, rock pooling or, more likely, begging for coins to feed the enticing arcade games.

And what would a trip to the seaside be without a piece of rock?

Hotels and Guesthouses also got involved in the preparations. Here ‘Burlington house’ gets a wash on its window frame

You could also get your portrait taken in Brighton for a sixpence, or 60 pence in today’s money

The deckchairs to go on Brighton’s shingle beach also had to be prepared for the thousands of visitors. They cost threepence

Fascinating photos show how the sugary sweet was initially wrapped into a huge roll of candy, approximately one foot wide, before it was endlessly stretched and chopped to its more recognisable form.

At first, each of the letters crafted by the sweet-makers would measure a couple of inches high. Then it would be slowly stretched over 180 yards until the ‘Brighton Rock’ writing only measured a fraction of an inch.

The pictured slab of candy would probably make just under 1,000 mouth-watering sticks of rock.

An engineer makes some final repairs to a Wurlitzer jukebox to make sure it will keep working during the holiday season

The pier also needed repairs on its underside to ensure it was safe for people to walk on

An iconic sweet from Brighton is the sugary ‘Brighton Rock’. Workers are preparing the sugary rolls to spell out the sweet’s name in this photo. After that they will be rolled together and stretched

These long sticks of Brighton Rock, the name being just visible at the top of them, are ready to be cut into several sections

This large slab of sugar candy could make as many as a thousand sticks of rock candy

A Brighton fisherman carefully mends his net. Brighton is also famous for its fish and chips which is very popular

An arcade owner tinkers with his horse racing contraption on the seafront making sure it still works


Brighton’s most famous pier, The Chain pier, which was the first to be built, was little used once the city was connected to the railway line as this provided a cheaper means of transport. The second pier, the West Pier, was burnt down in 2003. Although still visible from the coast, it is no longer accessible to the public.

1899 – The pier is opened for the first time on 20 May this year, although it is still unfinished. Its construction had been severely delayed, requiring Acts of Parliament and donations to keep the project going.

1905 – The first amusement arcades are added to the pier

1911 – A music hall is added. It played host to Charlie Chaplin at the beginning of his career and Stan Laurel, who would later be involved in the comedy act Laurel and Hardy.

The view of Brighton Pier from the seafront. The main arcade hall and funfair ground are easily spotted from the shingle beach

1914 to 1918 – The waters surrounding the pier were mined during World War One to prevent the pier being used in an attack 

1939 to 1945 – During World War Two large areas of the piers decking were removed to stop it being used as a landing station by the Germans

After 1945 – Repairs on the pier begin to return it to its former glory

1984 – The pier is purchased by gambling and betting company The Noble Group. They removed the entrance fee to encourage more people onto the pier to enjoy its arcades, fairground, and fish and chip shops  

2000 – Brighton’s Palace Pier is renamed Brighton Pier

2016 – The pier is bought by The Eclectic Bar Group, now called the Brighton Pier Group. They have maintained the pier much as it was before


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