The attraction, known as a "pleasure pier," includes an amusement park, night club and a 1,000-foot pier that holds a two-story iron and glass building, which opened in 1870. It is regarded as one of Britain's most popular attractions.
Fire officials say the fire likely started within wall paneling, and quickly spread through the main building and down the pier. No injuries were reported. Thick black smoke rose from the fire as it was doused by four fire engines and crews aboard several fire boats.
"It's affecting the arcade part of the fire and it's just gone up so quickly," said witness Alastair Millen. "There are at least four fire engines down there and swarms of police trying to keep people safe. It's devastating that a huge piece of this town's history has literally gone up in smoke."