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Southend Pier

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Southend Pier

Is this an icon?


Southend Pier

At a length of 1.3 miles, Southend pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world. It was built in the 19th century to allow boats to stop at the increasingly popular Essex resort. Before the construction of the pier, large mudflats at low tide and the fact that the sea went out over a mile from shore meant that boats were unable to stop and land passengers.

The first pier was a wooden structure, which was extended and replaced by an iron one formally opened in 1898. An upper deck was added in 1907 and another extension opened in 1929. During the second world war it was requisitioned by the navy, renamed HMS Leigh and not reopened to the public until 1945.

Throughout its history the pier has been dogged by fires – in 1959 a fire destroyed the pavilion at the shore end. There was a further fire in 1976, which almost led to its closure, and in 2005 a more severe blaze destroyed most of the old pier head. The pier was reopened last November but access to certain areas is still restricted.


Your comments

Southend Pier is both an icon of Southend-on-Sea and of the English way of perservering, despite everything being against you. The current pier, completed in 1889, was described by Sir John Betjeman "the Pier is Southend, Southend is the Pier" and has suffered a number of setbacks since World War 2, most recently in 2005 when part of the pier was once again destroyed by fire. Despite this, the pier continues to attract visitors throughout the year and can be said to be a true icon.

Adam J Edge

As a boy in the 1960s, I well remember visiting the cliff lift and pier with my nan - watching the four trains snaking back and forth, ice creams, chips, and the ultimate treat - going on the train! Today, I take my own children and in a few years who knows? If only I could find a model of one of those trains...

Its the longest pier in the world, surely thats good enough to get into a group of english icons!
Dave Read

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I nominate the English weather.