Sunday, December 14, 2008

The end of the pier

click photo to enlarge
2008 was a bad year for Britain's piers. In July the end of the 104 year old Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare was devastated by fire. Then in September the landward buildings of the pier at Fleetwood, Lancashire, a slightly younger structure dating from 1910, was burnt out. Of the two piers Weston's older structure is a great loss that certainly warrants repairing and renovating. Fleetwood's pier, which I know very well, was not however, a thing of beauty, and the remains should be cleared away. The promontory on which it stands will be improved by its removal.

It seems ironic that structures resting on metal over boundless water should so often be consumed by fire, but it has been a reasonably regular occurrence down the years. When I was a child the Lancashire resort of Morecambe was my frequent seaside destination. The town had a pier at that time. In earlier times it had two, but the West End Pier had lost its pavilion to fire in 1915, and subsequent storms slowly destroyed the rest. The Central Pier, that I remember, had pavilions known as "The Taj Mahal of the North". They burned down in 1933, so when I saw it the structure was truncated and had newer, less grand buildings. However, these too succumbed to fire and storms and the pier is no more.

The story of St Anne's pier farther down the Lancashire coast is depressingly similar. When it opened in 1885 it was 914 feet long with a "Moorish" pavilion. However, fires of 1974 and 1982 resulted in the seaward end being demolished and its length reduced to the present 600 feet. Thankfully it still has its Tudor-style buildings at the landward end, and a stretch of new building extends seaward from that. Today's photograph shows part of the old wooden tip of the pier with ornate, openwork, tapering metal columns with balls on top. Were they lights I wonder? I photographed them on a December day with the low sun throwing shadows across the sand, and the sky a mixture of deep blue, turquoise and grey.

Here is another of my photographs of this structure.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 19mm (38mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On