Constructed in 1813 to help lure affluent passengers to the island by avoiding an unpleasant disembarkation, Ryde Pier, on the Isle of Wight, is the oldest in Great Britain.

Victorian Britain saw a surge in the desire and ability to holiday. Piers were built both for function and many as tourist attractions. The ‘Pleasure Pier’ became a staple image of British holiday making. In all, around one hundred were built around the United Kingdom.

Many piers have slipped from our world, lost forever. Some piers valiantly defied modern efforts to obliterate them and so claim a place in our hearts and foster thoughts of preservation.

How many have you visited and where is the nearest one to you?

I didn’t consider myself a fan of piers until I began to look at how many I have visited in my time. More than I imagined and yet not even half of the fifty-plus that still exist.

A somewhat strange phenomenon, they offer a glimpse into a past world, one that seems like it may have been simpler. There is a whimsical lure within nostalgia.

Treading the boards of a pier connects us with those who have passed before. Some piers can seem a little tacky in their trappings, images of ‘kiss me quick’ hats, deck chairs and knotted handkerchiefs abound. Some piers are quiet and contemplative and some share a wonderful exchange and connection with the surrounding world.

Stand overlooking the wonderful Menai Strait, watch the tide ebb and flow, marvel at water surging past and  around Bangor Pier. Listen to the call of oystercatchers and other wading birds as they parade the shoreline and enjoy the light as it reflects from the water at high tide. There is a wholly different and still spectacular look to the Strait at low tide. Bask in a sunrise or sunset there; these are moments when the majesty and joy of piers encompass you, a testament to the vision of their creators.

We should all make an effort to enjoy the gift left to us and so, for your May ‘Make Life Special’ challenge, we would like you to visit a Pier and look closely at it and its history.

…and please do let us know your favourite pier.

National Piers Society

Eastbourne Pier

Bangor Pier

Herne Bay Pier

Brighton Pier

Burnham on Sea Pier – the shortest one

Walton Pier

Clarence Pier – the unusual one

Deal Pier

Clevedon Pier – the most beautiful one…

Famous Piers around the world

Share this post