COUNTY NEWS: Royal visit to Sussex

His Royal Highness Prince Philip was treated to beautiful views of Sussex today.

Prince Philip enjoyed the striking views of the south coast. Photo by Steve Payne
Prince Philip enjoyed the striking views of the south coast. Photo by Steve Payne

The Prince, 95, took a ‘flight’ on and formally opened Brighton’s i360, before meeting its designers and members of the City Council.

When told it was a great honour that he had come to open the attraction, The Duke of Edinburgh said, “It’s been open. But it’s more open than usual.”

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The Prince, who has a keen interest in engineering, met the architects and engineers behind the construction, which was designed by Marks Barfield Architects – the firm behind the London Eye.

Julia Barfield, of Marks Barfield, said, “I’m pleased he came because he’s a real expert in engineering. We heard a speech from him years ago and he was talking about engineering without any prompts or notes.”

Dr John Roberts, chief engineer, said, “He asked really interesting questions about how the tower doesn’t move in the wind.

“He was very interested, he knew what he was talking about. It’s fantastic that he’s visited. Royals don’t often visit private attractions.”

Meanwhile, outside crowds gathered to greet the Prince.

Florence Fearn-Hughes, seven, gave him flowers and a card that said, “Dear Prince Philip, I hope you enjoy your time on the i360. I have been up there and it’s lovely. Love, Florence.”

On the way out, His Royal Highness thanked Florence again for her gift and, when she asked him what he thought of the i360, he joked, “it’s terrible!”

British Airways i360 chairman David Marks said, “His Royal Highness is a fantastic champion of good design in arts and industry and has furthered this cause with energy and passion for more than 50 years.

“Knowing The Duke of Edinburgh’s love of engineering and innovation, we were absolutely delighted and honoured that he agreed to open British Airways i360 today, inspect the tower, its viewing pod and the technology that makes it work; and to meet key members of the engineering team and representatives of the community that made this engineering tour de force a reality.

“Everyone who has been involved in the project is deeply honoured that the Duke of Edinburgh opened British Airways i360 today and it has been a pleasure showcasing this new landmark to His Royal Highness.”

Also present for the royal visit were the Lord Lieutenant of Sussex Peter Field, the High Sheriff of East Sussex Michael Foster, the Mayor of Brighton and Hove Cllr Pete West, the chief executive of Brighton and Hove City Council Geoff Raw and the chairman of the West Pier Trust Dr Glynn Jones.

Brighton & Hove City Council chief executive Geoff Raw said, “Today’s visit by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was an historic moment for the city. The opening of British Airways i360 by His Royal Highness recognises the national importance of this fascinating and popular engineering achievement here in Brighton & Hove.”

The Duke of Edinburgh also met representatives of the British Airways i360 construction team, many of whom also worked with Marks Barfield Architects on the London Eye.

These included Hollandia, which constructed the steel tower; Poma, which created the glass pod, drive mechanism and ride control system; and Sussex-based civil engineer contractor JT Mackley which was responsible for the ground work and the British Airways i360 beach building.

David Marks added, “Built at the landward end of Brighton’s historic West Pier, British Airways i360 is a modern day ‘vertical pier’ that gives a new perspective on the city.

“Its purpose is simply to delight, entertain and inspire. Its design, engineering and method of construction are innovative, just as the West Pier was in its time.

“And just as the original pier invited Victorian society to ‘walk on water’, so British Airways i360 invites visitors to ‘walk on air’”.