BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

18 June 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
Legacies - Essex

BBC Homepage
 Legacies
 UK Index
 Essex
 Article
Gallery
Audio
 Archive
 Site Info
 BBC History
 Where I Live

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 
Essex
Southend Pier
Stuck in the mud

It was Sir John Betjeman who said "The Pier is Southend, Southend is the Pier", and he certainly had a point!

Today the pier is world renowned, but it has never lost its local links. The Southend community has been tied up with the pier's history since the first pile was driven into the mud in 1829.

The pier still holds a special place in the hearts of many - even local football fans taunt their opponents by boasting about the length of their pier!

Southend's first pier

Southend's first pier was wooden.
Wooden pier with tram rails, 1885
© Courtesy of the Southend Pier Museum Foundation
Made from piles of oak, it opened in 1830 to encourage trade and tourism in the area.

In the early-19th Century, steamships began to carry holidaymakers from London down the Thames. Southend's development as a resort, however, was initially hampered by its lack of good landing facilities. Travellers often bypassed the town, preferring to continue to Margate rather than hitching a lift with a fisherman into Southend! The construction of a pier helped to stop this trend.

The pier was popular with locals from the beginning. When Sir William Heygate brought the news from London that Parliament had passed a bill allowing the construction of a pier, he was mobbed by enthusiastic crowds.

Horse and carriage on Southend Pier, 1885
© Courtesy of the Marlinova Collection
By the 1880s, however, the wooden structure was unsafe, and it was decided to construct an iron pier. James Brunlees, who built Britain's first iron leisure pier at Southport, designed it.

But the old pier was not wasted - a Mayoral chair was made from some of the wood in 1892!


Pages: [ 1, 2, 3, 4 ] Next

Print this page
Interact
Interact is your section. Join in the community - send in your own articles, chat, and tell us what the word 'heritage' means in your part of the country.

Go To Interact >
Internet Links
Southend Pier
On This Day
Discover Southend
The Victorian Seaside
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Web sites.
Lothian
Edinburgh from Princes St Gardens
Related Stories
Success story for historic building conservation in Wales
The house of laughter
The building with the Dutch touch




About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy