If you are on a staycation, here’s two books with the lowdown on English seaside piers.
Remember Louisa Musgrove’s fall during a walk along Lyme Regis’ famous Cobb in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’? It seems the Cobb was a forerunner of later piers, built for fishing and freight and Jane Austen had no doubt seen it when she holidayed at Lyme Regis in 1804.
‘British Seaside Piers’ by Anthony Wills & Tim Phillips is due to be published by English Heritage and celebrates these structures, the first of which is considered to be Ryde. Originally built as a landing stage to get pleasure boat passengers on to dry land at low tide, without having to paddle or be carried, it was rapidly adopted by landlubbers for the new thrill of walking out to sea suspended above the waves.
A whole new Victorian industry sprang up. The author says: “The health giving climate of the seaside .. centred on getting away from the drudgery of industrial work. The pier was a major contributor, first allowing travellers to disembark and, later, escape into a fantasy world created by the pier owners.”
The only survivor of six Yorkshire piers is Saltburn. Badly damaged by storms on eight occasions, almost destroyed by a china clay boat which crashed into it in 1924, at 206m it’s less than half its original length. More
Chris Foote Wood visits every one of the 56 seaside piers in England and Wales and details the history, personalities, stories, legends and present condition of each of the piers in his Walking over the waves: quintessential British seaside piers