Monday, May 22, 2006

Evening light at the pier

click photo to enlarge
A seaside pier is designed to combine all the fun of the fair with the feeling of being on a large ship. Blackpool's North Pier, one of three that project from the town into the Irish Sea, does that exceptionally well. On a calm, sunny day the effect is serene and full of light. In winter the wind and crashing waves give an entirely different experience. And all this without a hint of seasickness!

The North Pier, designed by Eugenius (what a great name!) Birch, was opened in 1863, and is the oldest, as well as the most old-fashioned of the three piers. It has the customary long, exposed walk (1,405 feet) to the end, though there is a little train for those who want to ride. At the landward end are the usual amusements, a showbar, shops, cafe, etc. Four small pavilions with exotic looking ogee caps, act as visual punctuations along the decking. They house little shops, and add Victorian distinction to the overall outline. The end of the pier has a 1500 seat theatre, enclosed seating area and bandstand, a genuine Venetian carousel, and a few other attractions. This is in strong contrast to the Central and South piers which are absolutely packed with amusements, multiple large and small rides, eating places, etc.

I've taken photographs of this pier in the bright summer sun, when it's packed with holiday makers. This one, however, was taken on a May evening after a day of prolonged heavy rain. The pier had closed for the day, and probably had precious few visitors anyway. This brief glimpse of the sun through the storm clouds made a dramatic backdrop for the outline of the pier and the calm sea. I positioned myself so that the brightness of the sea on the left was balanced by the detail of the closer parts of the pier on the right, and I ensured that enough sky was included to show the range of colour that the evening light offered.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen