A 100 foot wooden jetty was completed on 2nd August 1856. It was
replaced in 1861 by a 1000 foot wooden pier designed by George
Rennie. This opened on 17th September 1861 having cost £3,418.
The piles were replaced in cast iron in 1866 and the ĎTí shaped
head was swept away by a gale in January 1867. In 1876, a storm
rendered the structure unfit for steamers. It was demolished and
replaced by a temporary construction in time for the 1877 season.
Eugenius Birch designed the 838 foot iron pier at a cost of
£21,600. It opened on 11th August 1880. Covered shelters and a
bandstand were added to the pier-head in 1855, followed by
extensions in 1894 and 1905. The new landing stage increased the
pierís length to 1,000 feet.
Breached as an anti-invasion measure in 1940, the repaired pier
was re-opened by 1946. The pier-head was reconstructed in 1950 and
a concrete substructure was built in 1960 to carry the new pier
A council report (the pier is local authority owned), in November
1976, found serious corrosion damage. Rebuilding was estimated at
£1,000,000. A scheme was authorised in 1977 and work commenced in
1979. It was completed in 1981 having actually cost £1.7 million.
The refurbished pier had a two-storey, octagonal entrance
building/leisure complex and facilities including shops, kiosks,
an amusement arcade, a show-bar and a multi-purpose hall. The old
shoreward end construction was demolished. A new concrete neck was
built at this time.
In 1996, the council planned to build a £13 million high tech
pier. It would retain the pierís original girders but everything
above deck would be demolished and replaced. However, the
Millenium Commission rejected the proposals and private companies
were sought to fund the development.
Approved expenditure for 1997 covered a structural survey,
replacement of deck gratings on the landing stages and phase eight
of the landing stage pile replacement programme.
In 2006, operation of the pier was taken over by Openwide Ltd and
in October 2009 it was revealed that suggestions they had made
informally to Bournemouth Council for a big wheel and a viewing
tower were rejected as impractical.
In October 2010, Bournemouth council was reported as having
entered into a deal with Openwide to bring a top secret £1.1
million unnamed outdoor attraction to the end of the pier.
Then, in May 2011, it was announced that Bournemouth's historic
Pier Theatre would close and the building be converted into an
adventure sports attraction, complete with surf training wave,
climbing walls and high ropes courses. Finally, in September 2011,
after many protests about the closure, including a strong defence
of the theatre by the National Piers Society, Bournemouth Council
voted to approve the change of use and enable the proposals to go
However, in February 2012, following difficulties in providing an electrical power
supply for the the new all-weather attraction, Openwide announced that
the historic Pier Theatre would re-open for one last summer season, with the new
facility being put back to 2013.
In April 2012, in a bid to attract more visitors to the pier, a £1 season ticket for
entrance to the pier was introduced, the normal price being 60p per visit.
In January 2013, the pier operators,Openwide International, announced plans to install a high ropes course
and a zip line attraction between the pier and the beach. They were also seeking permission to install surf wave ride
on the end of the pier. But planning permission for the new attractions was refused by Bournemouth Council on the
grounds that they would adversely affect the visual appeal of the pier and damage its heritage value.
In April 2013, the much criticised IMAX building near to the pier approach was demolished to pretty much everyone's relief.