Ref Number: 00115
Ref Number: 00115
Although plans for the Pier had been discussed for some time previous to 1874, it wasn’t until an Act of Parliament was enacted that construction could finally begin. The Sandown Pier Company, who were responsible for building the pier, ran out of money during construction, forcing them to stop construction 360 feet short of their original design.
Richard Webster, then the Island’s Member of Parliament, owned the pier until 1887. His father, Thomas Webster, had owned the Beachfield Estate in Sandown and was famous for helping to put Sandown on the map as a popular Victorian holiday destination. Finding the money to build the sewerage facilities and prevent the town’s sewage from being thrown directly into the ocean was one of his greatest achievements. In the year 1900, he was elevated to the position of Chief Justice of England and given the title of Lord Alverstone.
A new pavilion was constructed in 1934, bringing the total length of the pier to 875. Later, in 1971, a shore-based entertainment area was built and opened the following year in 1973 (at the time, my father Frank Colson was the site agent for Westridge Construction; I worked there when I was 15 and helped serve coffee and tea to the workers as they argued with the architects over the design of the foyer).
The pier was sold again in 1987, this time to Sandown Pier Limited; however, a disastrous fire in 1989 severely damaged the structure, necessitating nearly £2 million in repairs. The theatre hosted many notable names from the professional circuit, like Ray Alan and Jimmy Tarbuck, but also hosted numerous amateur groups from the Islands, such the Savoyards and the Sandown Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.
The theatre closed in 1997 due to falling audiences and shrinking local council resources; since then, the building has undergone yet another transformation, this time into a tourist attraction equipped with an indoor miniature golf course.