BRITAIN’s photos of the week: seaside piers

    Women bathers view a peep show on Llandudno Pier. Credit: Corbis
    Women bathers view a peep show on Llandudno Pier. Credit: Corbis

    Oh we do like to be beside the seaside. Britain’s seaside piers have graced our shores for 200 years and are testament to the nation’s continual love affair with the sea.

    Women bathers view a peep show on Llandudno Pier. Credit: Corbis
    Women bathers view a peep show on Llandudno Pier. Credit: Hulton-Deutsch/Corbis

    We owe a great deal to the Victorians and the British love of the seaside is certainly one legacy of that era in history as Britons flocked to the coast in their droves thanks to the coming of the railways and those all important bank holidays. Take a nostalgic trip back with us – and see how some piers have fared in the modern age.

    Ferris Wheel on Blackpool's Central Pier. Credit: Kevin 3/Alamy
    Ferris Wheel on Blackpool’s Central Pier. Credit: Kevin 3/Alamy

    Today Blackpool’s Central Pier is the most popular seaside resort in Britain.

    1948 souvenir programme Blackpool. crédit: British Seaside Piers/English Heritage
    1948 souvenir programme Blackpool. Credit: British Seaside Piers/English Heritage

    Blackpool’s Central Pier opened in 1868 and from the start the focus was on fun, as opposed to the genteel refinement of the North Pier.

    Blackpool Pier. Credit: Visit Britain
    Blackpool Pier. Credit: Visit Britain

    Today an incredible 12 million people visit Blackpool every year.

    Brighton West Pier. Credit: Michael Howell/Alamy
    Brighton West Pier. Credit: Michael Howell/Alma

    Eugenius Birch was the most renowned pier architect and perhaps his most famous design was the West Pier in Brighton, which fell into disrepair after the Second World War and has since been victim to two deliberate fires.

    Brighton Pier. Credit: Visit England
    Brighton Pier. Credit: Visit England

    The Grade II listed Brighton Pier, officially called the Brighton Marine Palace and Pier, was built to rival the city’s West Pier in 1891 but is now the only non-derelict pier and is filled with rides and family-friendly attractions.

    Ryde Pier 1712. Credit: British Seaside Piers/English Heritage
    Ryde Pier 1910s. Credit: British Seaside Piers/English Heritage

    Britain’s first pier opened in Ryde in 1814 and was created not so much for tourists but to help transport upper-class travellers from the increasing number of steamships that arrived in the town, who until now had to be piggy-backed to shore.

    Ryde Pier, Isle of Wight. Credit: Available Light Photography/Alamy
    Ryde Pier, Isle of Wight. Credit: Available Light Photography/Alma

    Ryde Pier is still a popular gateway for visitors to the Isle of Wight.

    Hastings Pier before WWI. Credit: British Seaside Piers/English Heritage
    Hastings Pier before WWI. Credit: British Seaside Piers/English Heritage

    Hastings Pier was another example of Eugenius Birch’s work. It suffered a devastating fire in 2010 and is currently undergoing a £14m renovation.

    Llandudno Pier Pavilion. credit: British Seaside Piers/English Heritage
    Llandudno Pier Pavilion. credit: British Seaside Piers/English Heritage

    With the growth of the railways in the 1840s, piers reached destinations such as Llandudno in north Wales.

    Ramsey Pier, Isle of Man. Credit: British Seaside Pier/English Heritage
    Ramsey Pier, Isle of Man. Credit: British Seaside Pier/English Heritage
    British-Seaside-Piers-Jacket-Image
    British Seaside Piers by Anthony Wills and Tim Phillips. English Heritage.

    Ramsey Pier on the Isle of Man helped cement its crown as Royal Ramsey after King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra disembarked at the pier head.

    To find out more about the history of the pier check out British Seaside Piers, by Anthony Wills and Tim Phillips, out on 24 July 2014 (English Heritage, £25), in which some of the above images appear.

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