Home   Felixstowe   Article

The stories behind Suffolk's regenerated seaside piers in Southwold and Felixstowe




Suffolk's seaside piers often bring up old memories of days spent with your feet in the sand, eating fish and chips in the sun.

In days gone by, they would have been the number one summer holiday destination for Brits, before the commercial airlines gave them the choice of anywhere in the world.

With seaside piers having been built in England in the 19th century, it's no surprise that over the years work has been carried out to give the structures some much needed TLC.

The original Southwold pier, which measured 810 ft, was built in 1900 as a landing stage for steamships travelling from London Bridge.

In 1934, a storm swept away the T-shaped pier and the outbreak of the Second World War also saw engineers explode part of the pier to prevent a German landing.

From then, it was a downward spiral, with a sea mine hitting the pier in 1941 and storms in 1955 and 1979 causing further damage.

In 1999, work started to rebuild the pier and in 2001 it was completed, having reached its current length of 623ft.

The following year was one of success, with Southwold's much-loved pier having been named Pier of the Year and Britain's only 21st Century Pier.

In 2005, the pier was bought by Stephen and Antonia Bournes, who prioritised turning the pier into a modern holiday destination.

In 2013, Suffolk-owned Gough Hotels took over ownership and are continuing to make changes.

And in 2019, the old ballroom was reopened as a seaside bar, with owners having applied for a licence to screen outdoor films.

Felixstowe Pier was built in 1905 and, like Southwold Pier, served the Belle Steamboats.

The pier had its own electric tramway which transported visitors and their luggage from one end to the other - a journey which originally cost only one pence.

Like in Southwold, Felixstowe Pier was part-exploded during the Second World War to prevent German invasion.

But this was a move that Felixstowe's structure would never recover from - with the tramway having been suspended and the seaward end neglected.

This led to the demolition of the seaward side of the pier, reducing its length to 450ft.

In September 2016, a £3million project was announced which would see the regeneration of Felixstowe Pier.

The old structure was demolished and just 12 months later the new pier opened to the public.

The revival of the pier came after a hole opened in the floor of a pier building in 2011 and almost destroyed the whole structure.

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk

Read more: All the latest news from Felixstowe