Bognor Regis PierRun-down Grade II listed pier on the south coast
Bognor Regis seafront, England UK [map], Photo/article © urban75, November 2013
There's no doubting that it's seen much better days, but Bognor Regis pier thankfully still lives on - albeit in a much reduced form, and with an uncertain future ahead.
Constructed by the Bognor Promenade Company and opened on the 4th May 1865, Bognor's first pier was a basic jetty, some 1,000-ft long.
Purchased by the local council in 1876 for the sum of £1,200, improvements saw a pavilion added at the seaward end (opening on 9th July 1900) followed by a landing stage in 1901 which allowed pleasure paddle steamers to dock.
[Archive view of pier theatre]
The landing stage was short lived, with its modest facilities proving inadequate for larger, more modern vessels. Faced with increasing maintenance costs and a hefty £11,000 repair bill, the Council decided to off-load the pier in 1908.
Sold to Messrs. Shanley and Carter for the princely sum of 10s. 6d (around 50p), the pier enjoyed major investment to the tune of £30,000, and re-opened for the Easter Bank holiday in 1909 looking spick and span.
Other improvements saw the shore end of the pier widened to 80ft (24.2m), allowing the construction of a theatre seating 1,400 people, plus a roof garden restaurant and 12 shops.
[Bognor Regis archive view]
A new 109ft (33m) three-tier landing stage was built at the sea end in 1936, giving access to paddle steamers and smaller vessels, and around the same time the pier became known for its diving displays, with hardy swimmers giving public displays twice a day.
[Bognor Regis pavilion]
The pier was used by the Royal Navy as an observation station in the Second World War, with the structure renamed as HMS Patricia.
As was customary on British piers in wartime, a central section of the pier was removed for fear of it being used by invading Germans.
The inevitable decline started in the 1960s, when the severe storms of 1964-1965 saw the seaward end structure collapsing into the sea, taking the pavilion with it.
The following year, the structure was sold to the American Novelty Company, but after two fires broke out, the pier closed in December 1974.
The old theatre.
Although it was awarded Grade II listing status by English Heritage on 27th April 1989, the pier continued to decay, with an application made in 1994 to demolish the remaining seaward end of the structure.
Once again the pier was sold off - this time to Bognor Pier Leisure Limited in 1996 - and an unsuccessful application was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the £2,000,000 needed to restore it.
Worse was to come, with the severe storms of 1999 causing more of the pier to be lost to the sea, and in 2008 a further 80-ft of the pier was removed for safety reasons.
Today, it looks a fairly dilapidated place although there is hope that a newly formed 'Friends of Bognor Regis Pier' will be able to secure its future.
A bid for a lottery grant being put forward, so hopefully there will be a bright future for the Bognor Regis Pier.
I hope so because it would be a real shame to lose such a wonderful old seaside feature.
View from the pier:
Fishermen at the end of the pier.
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