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Seaside Pier

Seaside Pier
Clevedon Pier © English Heritage

In its heyday, the English seaside pier was the perfect place for day-trippers and locals alike. These impressive platforms stretching out to sea proved to be a perfect place for pleasure taking and parading. Further adding to their appeal was the unprecedented sensation of ‘walking’ on water.



What screams the English seaside to you? The tantalising whiff of greasy fish ‘n’chips? Or perhaps penny-slot machines, cockles and whelks, the sand in between your toes (and invariably in your soggy sarnies)? Not forgetting Punch & Judy, candyfloss and kiss-me-quick hats…Nor sandcastles, bundles of colourful rock, stripy deckchairs and saucy postcards.


Most of us would agree with all of these examples of seaside spectacle but first and foremost it seems that when people think of the Great British seaside, they think of its splendid piers.


Unequivocally a much-loved English institution, piers today seem to fall into two categories. Nostalgically impressive, perhaps: think of Brighton’s West Pier and its once splendid ageing grandeur, and now skeletal elegance. In stark contrast, Brighton’s Palace Pier continues to delight hoards of holidaymakers with its kitsch tackiness, neon illuminations and bawdy fun. Both types seem to resonate deeply with a bygone age, and people still enjoy piers and the English seaside for much the same reasons as they did all those years ago.


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