Piers Of The Isle Of Wight

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The Isle of Wight, being an island, has, unsurprisingly, had several piers built around it over the years. This, after all, is to be expected. But to fully appreciate the Island's piers, we must first define what a pier is. A pier, after all, is quite different from a pontoon, jetty or wharf, which are similar in as far as they are structures built over the sea that can be used as a landing stage for a boat. A true pier is part of the traditional British "bucket and spade" seaside holiday, intended for use for the public as a means
of entertainment and pleasure.

The Background Behind Piers

Between the Sixteenth and Eighteenth centuries, in Britain and Europe it was very popular to go to Spa towns, such as Bath and Harrogate. It was believed that the water of such towns was very good for a person's health. Then, in 1750, Dr. Richard Russell published a pamphlet advocating sea water as a cure for most illnesses. His home village of Brightelmstone, soon re-named Brighton,
grew in both size and popularity, and with the invention of the Bathing Machine by Benjamin Beale, it seemed inevitable that other seaside resorts would soon follow Brighton in popularity. The only thing that was needed was a good transportation network.

As roads were still too impractical to travel long distances on, the best means of transport was by sea. The drawback with sea-travel was that most wharves and landing stages were only accessible at high tide - longer piers, accessible at any tide, were needed, and in 1814, Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight, was finished to become the first Promenade Pier in Great Britain.

In the 1820s, paddle steamers and trains meant that it was even easier to travel to the Isle of Wight, and the Bank Holiday Act of 1871 helped many working class families to enjoy day trips. The Pier was an essential part of the Victorian holiday, yet since World War II, piers have had less popularity as more and more visitors, instead of enjoying a British bucket and spade holiday, have gone for package holidays abroad.

Yet during the period in which piers were popular, the Isle of Wight had several piers built in its resorts around the coast.

Isle of Wight Piers
1814Ryde Pier Built
1841Cowes Fountain Pier Built
1845East Cowes Trinity Pier Built
1864Ryde Tramway Pier Built
Ryde Victoria Pier Built
Ventnor Harbour Piers Built
1867Cowes Royal Pier Built
Ventnor Harbour Piers destroyed
1872Ventnor Esplanade Pier Built
1876Yarmouth Pier Built
Cowes Royal Pier destroyed
1878Bembridge Harbour Pier Built
1879Sandown Pier Built
1880Ryde Railway Pier Built
Totland Bay Pier Built
1881Seaview Pier Built
Ventnor Esplanade Pier destroyed
1887Ventnor Royal Victoria Pier Built
Alum Bay Pier Built
1890Shanklin Pier Built
1902Cowes Victoria Pier Built
1916Ryde Victoria Pier destroyed
1922Bembridge Lifeboat Pier Built
1927Alum Bay Pier destroyed
1928Bembridge Harbour Pier destroyed
1950Seaview Pier destroyed
1955Ventnor Royal Victoria Pier Rebuilt
1961Cowes Victoria Pier destroyed
1987Shanklin Pier destroyed
1993Ventnor Royal Pier destroyed
2002Cowes Millennium Pier Built?

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