A short but interesting pier in Southwold, Suffolk
(Photos/words © urban75, May 2007)
Built in 1900 as a landing stage for the The Coast Development Company's 'Belle' steamships which ran between London Bridge and Great Yarmouth, Southwold pier originally reached out 810 feet (245m) into the sea.
The pier later saw a wooden pavilion with refreshment rooms built at the shoreward end for passengers and visitors. In 1934, a fierce storm saw the 'T' section at the end of the pier swept away, never to be replaced.
Despite the steamships gradually losing trade to improved road connections, the pier remained popular with a 1937 pavilion adding a concert hall and amusement arcade.
Sadly, the Second World War wasn't too kind to Southwold pier.
The army first blew up a section of the pier as a precautionary measure against a possible German invasion at the start of the war, and then a drifting mine blew out a second chunk in 1941.
The pier was patched up in 1948, but worse was to come in 1955 when a mighty storm washed away the end half of the pier.
A second calamitous storm in 1979 took away another length of pier, leaving just a 60ft stub of the original pier.
Salvation was at hand when Chris Iredale bought the pier in 1987 with the intention of rebuilding it. Soaring cost estimates led to the plans being shelved for a decade until Chris bought up a second hand crane to do the pile driving.
By 1999 work was underway, and in 2001 the pier had reached its new length of 623 feet. A year later, the Waverley paddle steamer docked at the pier and relived the glory days by carting off a ship-full of passengers up to the Smoke.
The pier was honoured with the Pier of the Year award in 2002, and later sold to Stephen Bournes in March 2005.
Pier entrance and amusement arcade,
A look along the pier.
Animated characters by the pier entrance.
Southwold Pier has over 3,000 plaques lining the handrails, but instead of the usual melancholy 'in memoriam' messages, these celebrate happy times, or contain funny or quirky notes.
The funds from the sale of these plaques contributed towards the cost of the pier's restoration.
A look at Southwold from the pier.
Looking north with Southwold's famous painted beach huts stretching into the distance.
The work of artist Tim Hunkin, Southwold Pier's famous waterclock is great fun to watch.
The clock was designed and built for a water recycling competition sponsored by Thames Water and performs every half hour.
Packed into a tiny arcade is an amusement arcade with a difference, also created by Tim Hunkin.
The bonkers collection of home made slot machines includes Rent-a-Dog, Auto Frisk, the Expressive Photobooth, The Bathyscape and a game based on crossing a motorway using a zimmer frame!
Is it Art?
The Auto Frisk machine in action.
View from the end of the pier.
See 360 panorama
A lone fisherman.
View of Southwold from the pier.
We came out of the cold breeze to enjoy a piece of cake and coffee in the pleasant cafe on the pier.
Southwold Pier at dusk.
Early postcard view of Southwold Pier.
A last look at the pier.
« Suffolk photos home Southwold beach huts »