Sunday, 18 October 2015

More seaside Gothic

The remains of Skegness Pier (a photo I took some time in the late 1980s).
The 1817 foot pier had cost £20,840 when it opened on 4th June 1881. It included a 700-seat saloon/concert hall at the 'T' shaped head. Steamboat trips began in 1882. The pier-head saloon was extended in 1898, and new refreshment rooms were built at the pier-head...

... On 11th January 1978, a severe storm washed away two large sections of the pier and left the theatre isolated at the seaward end. Plans to link the two sections by monorail, and to build a new 1200 seat theatre and a 250 foot tower all fell through later that year when an application for financial assistance was rejected.

Work began on dismantling the theatre in October 1985 but, while this work was taking place, a fire gutted the building.

Today the pier is only 129 yards (118m) long and no evidence remains of the old pierhead and shelters but what remains of the landward pier deck walkway has since undergone major refurbishment and is now once again a tourist attraction.

Even after refurbishment, what's left of the landward part of the pier looks forlorn. Somebody once defined a pier as a 'disappointed bridge' and that's exactly what it looks like today:

-- Tell me now, Stephen said, poking the boy's shoulder with the book, what is a pier.
-- A pier, sir, Armstrong said. A thing out in the waves. A kind of bridge. Kingstown pier, sir.
Some laughed again: mirthless but with meaning. Two in the back bench whispered. Yes. They knew: had never learned nor ever been innocent. All. With envy he watched their faces. Edith, Ethel, Gerty, Lily. Their likes: their breaths, too, sweetened with tea and jam, their bracelets tittering in the struggle.
-- Kingstown pier, Stephen said. Yes, a disappointed bridge.
James Joyce Ulysses