Who hasn’t been on a pier?

By | Category: Travel destinations

Despite the fact that there are piers in many countries of the world, many people still look on a seaside pier as something typically British.

Southend Pier – the longest in the country. Image – Southend Council

Over a decade ago, The Times columnist – Matthew Parris – called piers ugly and questioned their use when British Tourism Week promoted parties on piers. Luckily no-one took much not notice of his comments.

Instead the National Piers Society has, in its 42 year-old life, managed to whip up interest to keep piers around the country including the development plans for reconstructing the pier in Redcar.

With this four-day Easter holiday upon us, many will take the opportunity to leave their too-frequently stared at house walls and head to their nearest socially-distanced attraction and in some cases that will be a trip to the seaside and possibly a walk along the pier.

A promotion under a new coastal booking combine – England’s Coast – is reminding us just how important piers have been and should still be for tourism and us.

A pier has been integral to the success of many seaside and beach resorts. Some like Brighton had more than one. Blackpool might appear greedy having three! Others such as Weston-super-Mare have been substantially altered and modernised, Hastings is one that has had to be re-built because of fires.

Eastbourne Pier whose owner bought Hastings Pier from the receivers a few years ago

Given the age of many piers it is surprising that there is only one Grade 1 pier in the UK. That is at Clevedon in Somerset and is one pier that was actually built for tourism. But it was also a ferry terminal in the days when paddle steamers crossed the Bristol Channel bound for South Wales with tourists travelling either way.

Like all piers it faced closure possibilities over the years but survived to celebrate its 150th birthday two years ago.

The oldest pier in England is at Ryde on the Isle of Wight which dates back 207 years whilst the youngest is probably at Deal in Kent although there had been piers on the site previously and the longest is at Southend in Essex. Clacton Pier holds the current pier-of-the-year award.

Cromer Pier in Norfolk

There are piers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Some will be open this Easter weekend but many will not re-open until April 12th at the earliest.

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