Along with the iconic fish & chips and rock, piers have become a staple of British seaside life for more than two centuries now and are firm favourites on the Suffolk Coast too.
The wonderful thing about piers is that no two are quite the same, ranging from clear and uncluttered deck to elaborate structured pavilions with amusement arcades, landing stages and theatres that were the highlight of pier life in the early part of the last century.
Today, we are fortunate enough to have many of our original piers remaining despite suffering the ravages of time and continual battle to retain them in their original glory.
Here on the Suffolk Coast our seaside piers remain well-loved landmarks and continue to be a popular attraction for holiday makers, day trippers and locals alike!
The lovely seaside resort of Lowestoft boasts not one, but two piers!
South Pier Lowestoft was built originally as part of the harbour construction works in 1846. A reading room and bandstand were added later, though badly damaged during World War II and sadly demolished. Years of alterations and improvements followed plus a closure in the late 1980’s due to structural problems. The latest major refurbishment was undergone during 2008, shaping the pier into what it is today; an all-encompassing family entertainment complex with the latest gaming machines, gift shop and food outlets.
Further south along the award winning beach of Lowestoft proudly stands the Claremont Pier. Much like the South Pier it has seen a few transformations during its 104 years of existence! Once a berth for paddle steamer rides at 9d a fare, the Claremont Pier became a mecca of summer visitors and saltwater anglers during the inter-war years. In 1940 the Royal engineers blasted a hole in the pier stop the enemy using it as possible landing space!
A visit to the quintessentially English seaside town of Southwold is simply not complete without a stop off at the pier!
Southwold Pier, built in 1900, was originally built as a landing stage for steam ships that travelled from London. After a long history of being destroyed by violent storms and hit by a drifting sea mine, the pier was privately bought in 1987. Work began to rebuild it and was finally completed in 2001, with the pier reaching its current length of 623 feet. A year later, it was named ‘Pier of the Year’ and now stands as Britain’s only 21st century pier.
Now a family run business, many imaginative and quirky improvements have been made. Even when the British weather is inclement, visitors flock from near and far to Southwold Pier. Many enjoy a leisurely stroll browsing in the unique little gift shops or stopping off for a mouth-watering fish and chip lunch. Children love the ‘House of Games’ and ‘Under the Pier Show’ – A collection of hand built and utterly silly machinery. But one thing’s for sure, everyone’s favourite has to be the cheeky Water Clock – guaranteed to make you giggle!
Originally, the pier opened in August 1905 with a total length of 2,640 feet (800 m) making it one of the longest in the country, and its own railway station, with steamer services running to various destinations.
During the war, the pier was sectioned to reduce the risk of enemy invasion, which it never fully recovered from, resulting in the pierhead being demolished after the war, having been left to deteriorate. In 2017, a new shore-end structure was opened after a multi-million pound redevelopment. Felixstowe now boasts having Great Britain's newest pier, complete with Family Entertainment Centre, the Boardwalk Cafe, Lorenzo's ice creams and sweets and a fish and chip kiosk.