The first pier at Southend was a wooden construction built in 1830. But by the middle of the century the increased tourist numbers had begun to take their toll and in 1887 it was decided to replace it with an iron pier. Opened in 1889, extended in 1897 with an upper deck was added in 1907, followed by a further extension in 1927. In 1959 a fire destroyed the Pavilion located at the shore end of the pier trapping over 500 people on the seaward side who had to be rescued by boat. In 1976 fire destroyed much of the pierhead and the following year buildings at the shore end of the pier were damaged by another fire. It was a dark time for the pier as in the following year the pier’s electric railway was closed. In 1980 the council announced that the pier was to close but reversed this decision following a local protest. In 1983 a grant was given to the pier as a historic building which allowed repairs be made and these were completed in 1986 and included the provision of a new diesel train service from the shoreside to the pierhead. However within a couple of months, a boat had crashed into the pier severing the new pierhead from the rest, in the process destroying the lifeboat station and it was not until 1989 that the pier fully reopened. Further renovations to the pierhead were carried out in 2000 creating a new sundeck and building a new lifeboat station. The pier’s fiery history has continued. In 2005 a fire destroyed some buildings at the pierhead and a new pavilion and railway station have been constructed since to replace the ones destroyed.
Published by Pete
I am semi-retired after a career in medical sciences. I now work from home doing independent research and consultancy amongst other things. One advantage of this is that I do have time to indulge my interests including birdwatching, natural history, steam trains and history particularly ancient history. View all posts by Pete