Photographer Finn Hopson has been documenting the West Pier since 2012 as it gradually deteriorates. The Brighton based Hopson says the images are a work in progress and he will only stop when the pier finally disappears into the ocean. The last portion of UK’s only Grade I listed pier can be seen as photographed by Hopson during the lowest tides of the year from 2012 until the present day.
As seems fitting for a project that has to do with the slow passage of time, every image is shot using very long exposure, ranging from 30 seconds to as long as 4 minutes. This technique allows for the isolation of the details of this great old structure in the water, while all the more calling attention to what is no more. The collection is fittingly called The End of the Pier.
For those unfamiliar, the West Pier is a pier located in Brighton, England. The West Pier was constructed in 1866 by Eugenius Birch, but has been closed and has slowly deteriorated since 1975. It has been awaiting renovation, but after two fires and many storms, little is left of the grand old structure. The West Pier was Brighton’s second pier, joining The Royal Suspension Chain Pier of 1823. It is one of only two Grade I listed piers in Britain, with the other being Clevedon Pier.
Hopson’s The End of the Pier chronicles the slow but unstoppable decay, with the series currently comprised of twelve photos wherein the deterioration of the pier is plain and clear to see. Hopson is able to lend this perspective by getting into the water during low tide in order to achieve the perfect view. Hopson says The End of the Pier began unintentionally, saying, “I had no intention of starting a project, I just wanted to get an interesting image once the ballroom section had been taken away. […] After a few attempts it became a moderate obsession and now I feel kind of obliged to keep at it.”
See the dramatic and poignant images of an old glorious structure fading away in The End of the Pier here.