03 February 2011

Weston's Real Pier

Whilst he oversaw the construction of the Bristol and Exeter Railway, the great I.K. Brunel lived in Weston. The railway opened in 1841, bringing visitors from Bristol and the Midlands. Birnbeck Pier was built to entertain them. Designed by Eugenius Birch and opened in 1867, it provided tea rooms, various rides, and a photographic studio. It was lit in the evenings with gas. A new landing stage was added in 1872 and a lifeboat station in 1881 (rebuilt 1902). This last, with the longest slipway in England, is still operational; but otherwise the pier, listed Grade II*, is derelict.

It suffered storm damage in 1903, and the western jetty (built 1898) disappeared in 1920. The Birnbeck Island amusements closed in 1933 as a result of competition from the Grand Pier's funfair. During WWII the pier was used by the Admiralty for experimental weapons development - a Lancaster bomber dropped on it a large block of concrete. The pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1988, the pier was extensively damaged by a 1990 storm, and ultimately closed four years later. One now can't get beyond the remains of the cast iron turnstiles (above).

1 comment:

RLT said...

Richard, I visited Weston as a boy to see an aged great aunt and uncle. We came across the Bristol Channel in a paddle-wheel ferry if my memory serves. You may not know that it was home to the Weston Speed Trials post war. RGDS RLT