National Piers Society
History of Bournemouth Pier

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 theatre.

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 ahead.

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.


Pier Statistics
Length Opened Status Owner
Initially 1000ft now 750ft (229m) 1856 Unlisted Bournemouth BC

Pier News
Mar 2015 - Bournemouth's new pier approach to open in time for summer
Jan 2015 - Wedding proposal via RockReef UK's zip wire at Bournemouth Pier!
Oct 2014 - Boat trips' future under spotlight
Sep 2014 - Work To Transform Pier Approach Starts
Sep 2014 - Zip wire line finally installed
Jun 2014 - Video animation of pier zip wire
May 2014 - First look at Pier Theatre transformation
Apr 2014 - Petition to save Theatre gets 1000 signatures
Feb 2014 - Pier restaurant in wedding ceremonies bid
Dec 2013 - Work to convert Pier Theatre to start
Nov 2013 - Zip wire and surf wave given the thumbs up
Nov 2013 - Fresh attempt for zip-wire and surf wave...
Oct 2013 - Plans unveiled to make seafront "world-class"
See Pier Newslinks Archive for earlier stories
Pier Gallery
Flickr gallery of images of Bournemouth Pier
Simplon Postcards of Bournemouth Pier
Google search for all images of Master Pier
Pier Movies
British Pathe Newsreel 1930s - 'Bournemouth - All Seasons'
British Pathe Newsreel - 'Sea Cricket 1949'
Chris Foote Wood's YouTube video of Bournemouth Pier 
Pier Weblinks
Bournemouth Pier & Pier Theatre website
Trip Advisor Reviews  
The Heritage Trail webpage on Bournemouth Pier  
The 'Dorset Belles' pleasure boats
Google Streetview
Bournemouth Pier Webcam
Pier Weather

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