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