Friday, February 03, 2006

Under the pier

click photo to enlarge
Piers are an endangered species. A legacy of the Victorians, piers are steadily declining in numbers (and length) each year. That's a shame because there's something magical about a walk down a long pier when the tide is in. It really does get near to the feeling of being at sea - but without the sea sickness! However, their day is long past, and those that survive are often doing so on a precarious commercial basis, sometimes supplemented by heritage grants.

Fleetwood Pier is the most northerly of five piers on the Fylde coast: there are three in Blackpool and one in St Annes. It was the last to be built in what is known as the "golden age" of pier building (1860-1910). Though it was first proposed in 1892, it wasn't until 1910 that it opened. The structure was originally 492 feet (150m) long, but a major fire in 1952, followed by some rebuilding, has reduced the length substantially. Fleetwood pier is currently being run as a commercial proposition after some years in the doldrums. Long may it continue.

This photograph was taken below the pier on a January morning when the sun was low in the east. The silhouettes of the columns and cross-bracing make a pattern of strong shapes, with a more delicate note being added by the filigree of tangled lines and netting. Since the blue backdrop of sea and sky is not enough to complete the photograph, I was careful to include the distant red buoy. Without this small patch of strong colour there is no photograph!

Incidentally, the composition is based on the same principles as in my post of two days ago, "The Devil's invention."
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen