Top 13 Piers in Britain – The Coolest Amusement Pleasure Piers in the United Kingdom

Being an island nation, Britain has a loving relationship with it’s coastlines and for centuries people have flocked to them for a little rest and relaxation. All throughout Britain, many seaside piers were built – some are still popular, some have seen better days, some are ruined wrecks.

Here is out list of all the coolest piers left in Britain we thought would make a fun list.

Llandudno Pier – Wales

Llandudno Pier is in the seaside resort of Llandudno on the coast of North Wales between Bangor and Colwyn Bay. At 2,295 feet, the pier is the longest in Wales and the fifth longest in England and Wales. A British Tourist Authority report in 1975 said of it: ‘…. It zooms out of the sea…. in a spectacular Indian Gothic style rather like a Maharajah’s palace floating on a lake. Cast iron, brackets of iron lacework, an outstandingly pretty balustrade like an enlarged fish net, ogee roofs curling away to the sky, all add up to a totally pleasurable experience.’ The pier is very unusual in that it has two entrances, one on the promenade at North Parade and the other, the original entrance, on Happy Valley Road. Between the two entrances is the Grand Hotel. At the end of the pier is a deep-water landing stage, completely rebuilt for the third time in 1969, which is used by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for occasional excursions to Douglas, Isle of Man, and for an annual visit of the PS Waverley or the MV Balmoral preserved steamers. The June 2007 sailings of the Balmoral were rescheduled to start at Menai Bridge Pier, after it emerged that Llandudno Pier’s Landing Stage was no longer safe to use. Llandudno Pier is often chosen for Victorian and Edwardian seaside filming locations and notably for the 2002 TV production of The Forsyte Saga. In 2005, the pier was voted “Pier of the Year 2005″ by the members of the National Piers Society.

Worthing Pier – West Sussex

Worthing Pier is a pier in Worthing, West Sussex, England. Designed by Sir Robert Rawlinson, it was opened in 1862 and remains open to this day. The pier originally was a simple promenade deck 960ft (291m) long and 15ft (4.6m) wide. In 1888 the pier was upgraded with the width increased to 30ft (9.2m) and the pier head increased to 105ft (32m) for a 650-seat pavilion to be built. The first moving picture show in Worthing was seen on the pier on 31 August 1896 and is commemorated today by a blue plaque. In 1897 a steam ship began operation between Worthing Pier and the Chain Pier in Brighton, twelve miles to the east. Worthing Pier was sectioned in 1940 for fear of German invasion after the retreat at Dunkirk. A large hole was also blown in the pier to prevent it being used as a possible landing stage in the event of invasion. The pier is owned by Worthing Borough Council (formerly the Worthing Corporation). The Pavilion Theatre and Denton Cafe is situated at the northern, land end of the pier; at the middle is the 1935 amusement arcade, which from 1956 – 2006 carried a distinctive ‘New Amusements’ sign that was featured on the cover of the album To See the Lights (1996) by Britpop band Gene. The Southern Pavilion (the sea end) is currently home to a nightclub named The Pier, which opened on 20 December 2007. It has previously been used as a cafe, dance hall and to house a model railway layout. Since 2008, Worthing Pier has been the home of the annual International Birdman competition, which moved to Worthing after it could no longer safely be held on the pier at Bognor Regis, some 15 miles (24 km) to the west.

Grand Pier – Weston-super-mare


 

The Grand Pier is a pier in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, England. It is situated on the Bristol Channel approximately 18 miles (29 km) south west of Bristol. Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier has been transformed into a 21st Century indoor theme park. The Grand Pier is now open all year round and has 16 brand new rides and attractions to satisfy visitors of all ages. The owners travelled the world to find the best rides and some of them are unique to the Grand Pier. The Pier has the only Laser Maze in the UK and the only double one in the world. It also has two Formula 1 simulators,  the only ones open to the public in the UK. The F1 simulators are exactly the same ones used by the F1 racing teams to train on, in the closed season and they always draw a huge crowd. A 300 metre Go Kart track, which runs over two floors, is proving to be a very popular ride, as is the Crystal Maze. Other thrilling rides include the Robocoaster, a huge robotic arm which throws riders upside down, right out into the Pavilion roof void.  The Grand Pier also has a Side Winder ride which swings and spins up to eight passengers high above the arcade below. The Pier has some world-class rides and attractions, but it has also retained some of the old favourites, including the Ghost Train and the Dodgems. A 4D Cinema is proving a hit with young and old alike. All the seats move, when it rains you get wet and when you go under water you are surrounded by bubbles. There are twelve effects in all. There are now a total of 27 bars, shops and restaurants on the Grand Pier, including an Edwardian tea room with stunning sea views of three sides, plus an American-themed Sundaes ice cream parlour. There are a range of things to eat and drink – including classics like Fish and Chips  and Donuts – and we even have our very own Grand Pier Beer. For further information on all the rides and attractions at the Grand Pier please go to www.grandpier.co.uk or call 01934 620238. Admission to the Grand Pier is free. Come along and see what we have on offer.

South Parade Pier – Portsmouth

The South Parade Pier is a pier in Portsmouth, England. It is one of two piers in the city, the other being Clarence Pier. The pier has a long hall down its centre which houses a seating area and a small restaurant. The outside of the hall is a promenade which runs the whole length of the pier and connects the entrance building with the small funfair at the southern end. The South Parade Pier is a pleasure pier offering typical seaside attractions including souvenir shops, ice creams, indoor amusements and a small children’s funfair. It also contains a fishing deck and two function rooms which are often used for live music. The history of the pier has been eventful; like many UK piers, part of it was removed during the Second World War in an attempt to hinder any invasion and it has also caught fire several times, most famously in 1974 during shooting of the film Tommy. The pier also featured in an episode of Mr. Bean entitled “Mind the Baby Mr. Bean.”

Southend Pier – Thames Estuary

Southend Pier is a major landmark in Southend-on-Sea. Extending 1.34 miles (2.16 km) into the Thames Estuary, it is the longest pleasure pier in the world. Sir John Betjeman once said that “the Pier is Southend, Southend is the Pier”. The pier is a Grade II listed building. It also has a railway that runs the length of the pier. The pier is mentioned in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; after Ford and Arthur were thrown off a Vogon Construction ship and were picked up by the Improbability drive, on the starship Heart of Gold, Arthur remarks that it looks like they’re standing “on the seafront at Southend”. In the 1981 BBC TV adaptation however, neither the set used for the pier nor the view of the buildings on the shore look anything like Southend.

Hastings Pier – East Sussex

Hastings Pier was a pleasure pier in Hastings, East Sussex, England. Built in 1872 and enjoying its prime in the 1930s, though becoming a popular music venue in the 1960s, it received major storm damage in 1990, closed to the public between 1999 and 2002, then closed again from 2006. Efforts continued to save the pier, which was in need of much investment. In the early hours of October 5, 2010, the pier suffered from a devastating fire (the second in its history) that destroyed 95% of its superstructure. The Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust say that, pending a structural survey, the substructure (the cast iron supports under the pier) may be salvageable. However, developers for Hastings Borough Council confirmed in an interview on 20 October 2010 that no plans had arisen as of yet. The pier has featured in many films and TV series, such as the ITV wartime drama Foyle’s War, which is set in Hastings.

Eastbourne Pier – East Sussex

Eastbourne Pier is a seaside pleasure pier in Eastbourne, East Sussex, on the south coast of England. The proposal for a pier was first mooted at the end of 1863, and highly favoured by the town’s major landowner, the 7th Duke of Devonshire. It was to have been 1000 feet in length and, at a cost of £12,000, would have been situated at the end of the town’s grandest avenue, Devonshire Place. However, the project was delayed and finally abandoned in favour of the present site at the junction of Grand and Marine Parades, thus creating the easterly end of what amounts to a shingle bay. During the Second World War, part of the decking was removed and machine guns were installed in the theatre providing a useful point from where to repel any attempted enemy landings and a Bofors anti-aircraft gun was sited midway along the length of the pier. In December 1942, an exploding mine caused considerable damage to the pier and nearby hotels; it had been tied to the stanchions by the local police, who were under the mistaken impression that it was fitted with a safety device. In 1943, a detachment of Royal Canadian Engineers fixed camouflage netting over the stanchions to conceal flotillas of small vessels, such as wooden assault landing craft. Various traditional pier theatres were built over the years but after the last one was destroyed by fire in 1970, it was replaced by a nightclub and bar which remain to this day. On the landward half of the pier stands a fish and chip kiosk, an amusement arcade and a fast food outlet. Further out, as well as the club there is a cafe, a restaurant, a glassblower, a clothes shop and a tattoo parlour. The tower at the end of the pier is often used as a viewing point during the annual air show.

Cromer Pier

Cromer Pier is a seaside pier in the civil parish of Cromer on the north coast of the English county of Norfolk, 40 km due north of the city of Norwich in the United Kingdom. The pier is the home of the Cromer Lifeboat Station and the Pavilion Theatre.

Clevedon Pier

Clevedon Pier is a seaside pier in the town of Clevedon, on the English side of the Severn Estuary. It is situated next to the Royal Pier Hotel. The landing stage at the end of the pier is used throughout the summer season (June to September) by the Waverley and her sister ship, the Balmoral, and is a popular spot for angling. There is a cafe at the pierhead, and a souvenir shop at the toll house. The upper floor of the toll house is an art gallery with a different exhibition every month. The pier is open every day of the year except Christmas Day.

Clacton Pier

Clacton Pier is a pier located in the seaside resort of Clacton-on-Sea. Officially the first building of the new resort of Clacton-on-Sea, the pier was officially opened on 27 July 1871, as a wooden structure 160 yards (150 m) in length and 4 yards (3.7 m) wide. The pier was originally built as a landing point for goods and passengers, and from when it opened Steamships operated by the Woolwich Steam Packet Company which docked at the pier; it soon also became popular for promenading. By the 1890s Clacton was becoming an increasingly popular destination for day trippers and in 1893 the pier was lengthened to 1180 ft (360m), and entertainment facilities including a pavilion and a waiting room were added. In 1994, a local businessman and his family, the Harrisons, bought the pier. They embarked on an ambitious and successful modernisation project to attract 21st century day trippers. The pier emerged as a modern amusement park, virtually unique in the sense that there are rides as you first enter, with the rest dotted throughout the length of the pier. In March 2009 the pier was purchased by the Clacton Pier Company, who installed a new focal point, a 50 ft helter skelter. Originally built in 1949 and used in a travelling show, it was featured in a 2008/2009 Marks & Spencer television advert.

Burnam-on-Sea

This pier was built in 1858 by the Somerset Central Railway. Soon afterwards, in 1860, a steamer service to Wales was inaugurated, but it was never a commercial success, and ended in 1888. Burnham-on-Sea railway station was the terminus of the Burnham branch of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. It opened in 1858, closed to scheduled passenger traffic in 1951, and stopped being used for excursions in 1962. The former Great Western Railway station is now known as Highbridge and Burnham. A second pier, built of concrete between 1911 and 1914, is claimed to be the shortest pier in Britain.

Brighton Pier

The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier is a pleasure pier in Brighton, England. It is generally known as the Palace Pier for short, but has been informally renamed Brighton Pier since 2000 by its owners, the Noble Organisation, in an attempt to suggest that it is Brighton’s only pier. The West Pier was its rival but was closed in 1975 and was subsequently severely damaged by fires and storms, with the remaining iron structure being partially demolished in 2010.

North Pier – Blackpool

North Pier is the oldest and largest of the three coastal piers in Blackpool, England. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building. The pier’s name derives from the fact that it is the northernmost of Blackpool’s three piers. It is actually located only about 400 metres to the north of Blackpool Tower which acts as a rough representative of Blackpool’s midpoint. The sea front is particularly straight and flat and so the pier’s 500-metre length simply extends at a right angle to the coastline, more or less level with the promenade. There previously was an admission charge of 50 pence to access the board-walk section of the pier before 5:30pm, but it is now free admission. North Pier was heavily adapted during the last quarter of the nineteenth century; both the “head” of the pier (the extreme seaward end) and the connection with the shore were widened to include music performance facilities and shops. The facilities, although repaired or reconstructed as necessary, remained much the same until the 1960s when the “Merrie England Bar” and an amusement arcade were constructed at the shore end of the pier. By this point, the pier had long since ceased to have any nautical use, but the jetty section was adapted for use as a helicopter pad in the late 1980s. A small tramway was also added to ease access to the views and facilities of the pierhead.

Some content and picture repurposed from Wikipedia.

What’s your favorite pier in Britain? Have you been there? Let us know in the comments!

 


Comments

  1. avatar says

    I’d have to name Brighton Pier as my favourite as it’s the only one I’ve yet visited. :-D Only one or not, it was pretty darn cool and a definite highlight of my very first UK visit.

  2. avatar says

    Personally I love Bournemouth Pier. Not just because I used to live there but for it’s theater, amusements and cafe. You can stroll along the pier on a beautiful hot summers day and watch the children playing or people relaxing in deck chairs. Maybe catch one of the boats that moor at the pier for a sightseeing trip around the bay and the Jurassic Coast. You can even take your fishing rod and join the other anglers trying to catch their evening meal.
    Yes there is a small charge for entering the pier (unless you have tickets for a shown at the theater) but it’s well worth every penny.
    Oh how I miss you Bournemouth Pier.

  3. avatarMad_Andy says

    When I was a kid, every year we wen on holiday to Shanklin on the Isle of Wight so I would vote Shanklin pier as my favorite. but I’m not even sure if its still there. I particularly remember the daredevil who used to high dive off the end of pier twice a day!

  4. avatar says

    I had a 12 year spell living in Brighton and loved the romance of the West Pier. Seeing the starlings roost as the sun set was just magical. We were on the Palace Pier when we had the total eclipse, again that was awesome as the birds went into night time mode!

Leave a Reply