Not much fun of the Drifters variety to be had under this boardwalk…
British seaside piers date from the early 1800s with the pier in Worthing, Kent – 960ft long and 36ft wide – the thirteenth to be built in England. It officially opened on 12th April 1862 and despite storm and fire it still survives.
Disaster struck the Pier on Easter Monday 1913. Strong gales had developed throughout the day and by 9 o’clock in the evening the wind was blowing at 80mph. Crowds gathered on the shore to watch the Pier being battered by the waves. Soon after midnight the Pier’s electricity supply was lost and within minutes the decking between the pavilion and the shore had been washed away.
More disaster followed in 1933 when fire destroyed the South Pavilion at the sea end. Volunteers helped the fire brigade to remove furniture from the burning building and rip up decking to stop the blaze spreading any further. Opening two years later, the South Pavilion, re-furnished and fully equipped for dances and refreshments, was dubbed “the sun trap of the south”.
In 1940, army engineers used explosives to blow a 120ft. hole by in the pier to prevent it from being used as a possible landing stage in the event of a German invasion. When fears of invasion had lessened,the Pier became a recreation centre for troops complete with a canteen, library and billiard tables.
Later it was used as a nightclub named The Pier, which opened in 2007, and prior to that a cafe, dance hall and to house a model railway layout. Following extensive renovations, the Southern Pavilion is currently home to tearoom and function area.