12 December 2011
Southwold Pier, originally 810ft long, was built in 1900 as a landing stage for the Belle Steamships that brought holiday makers to Southwold from London. As roads improved, the steamships lost business and the pier was increasingly used for promenading and fishing.
In 1934 the landing stage at the head was swept away in a violent storm. In 1937 the timber buildings at the shoreward end were replaced with the two-storey pavilion complete with concert hall and amusement arcade. At the outbreak of WW2 Southwold Pier was sectioned for fear of the anticipated German invasion. In 1941 a drifting sea mine struck the pier destroying a further section. In 1955 a storm washed away the end half of the Pier and in 1979 another storm reduced the length of the Pier to only 60ft.
In 1987 the pier was privately bought and work to rebuild it started in 1999 making new legs with the latest piling techniques. In 2001 the work was completed with the pier reaching its current length of 623ft. Named Pier of the Year in 2002 it is one of Britain’s only 21st century piers. The Waverley Paddle Steamer docks at the T-end every year taking people to London, just as the Belle steamers had done over 100 years before.
Southwold Pier is now the perfect combination of English seaside nostalgia meets modern day aspirations – and it offers terrific value for money throughout. The pier has received numerous awards for Best Tourism Experience, Best Seaside Attraction and customer Service. The retail experience has everything from beach necessities to tasteful souvenirs to a stunning range of lifestyle goods for the home. Three eateries offer a mix of traditional home cooked fare and flair from a hearty breakfast to a cream tea to a steaming bowl of locally-sourced mussels. Playing is great fun for families with a traditional amusement arcade and the ‘’Under the Pier Show’ where the wit of Tim Hunkin’s unique hand-built machines are guaranteed to raise a giggle!
It is the place to come to for a fabulous family day of fun for all ages.
Post by Antonia Bournes, Southwold Pier.
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