Ref Number: 00112
Ref Number: 00112
Due in large part to its fresh air and brilliant blue seas, the 19th century saw Seaview’s rise to prominence as a vacation and tourism destination. In 1870, when the population of Seaview was already well over 3,000, the Seagrove estate’s proprietors decided to build a promenade pier to accommodate the rising popularity of the area as a tourist destination.
However, an Act of Parliament was needed to construct such a memorial, and this was not obtained until 1878. The Seaview Pier Company then constructed a 350-yard-long chain pier with four towers along its length, making it one of the most iconic piers in all of the United Kingdom. Thus Frank Caws, son of the local land owner Silas Caws, was an engineer and designed a suspension pier, the third in Great Britain after Brighton Chain Pier and one at Leith in Scotland began the endevour.
In 1881, construction was completed on a 1000-foot pier that was 15 feet wide. The pier deck was suspended from a total of four towers using cables strong enough to support 30,000 people, or almost half of the island’s population. A modest pavilion and a crane were installed on the pier head. At the landward end, two structures stood: the Piermaster’s quarters and a waiting area. As of the last day of September 1861, the pier had served 16,000 customers, among them the Prince and Princess of Wales. Walking down the pier was an artistic and visually pleasing experience, and it also swayed somewhat.
Although not as many paddle steamers as expected stopped by, Seaview Pier was nonetheless successful enough to have its pier head lengthened by 50 feet in 1889 and again in 1901. The pier firm added electric lights in 1905 and purchased a steamship to improve income in 1914. Unfortunately, war was declared shortly after the purchase of the Alleyn, and all steamers were enlisted for military service. Small launches brought people to and from the dock after the war, but no steamers ever returned.
When World War II broke out, the pier was permitted to deteriorate in case the Germans wished to use it as a landing pier. Prior to this, it had seen heavy use, with many pleasure boats picking up and putting down passengers from the mainland. Even though it was the first pier in the UK to be designated as a structure of historic significance and listed, it had fallen into disrepair by the time of the devastating storm at the end of 1950.
A sad conclusion to a fantastic pier, there is now hardly a monument to denote where it once stood.