Eastbourne Pier is a firm favourite on the south coast of England and has an air of refinement and charm about it that is almost unique in terms of the piers that are still remaining today.
Although it has undergone significant refurbishment over the years, this has always been very tastefully done and the end result is a construction that somehow is rather quintessentially English, in a somewhat understated way, less ostentatious perhaps.
Eastbourne pier was officially opened in 1870, but construction work was not completed until 1872. It was fairly rigorously constructed and has not been so adversely affected by storms or floods, as some of its counterparts. The only significant damage it has suffered was in 1877, when part of the pier at shore side was literally washed away, but since then there has been relatively little incidence of damage.
When it first opened, the pier was simply a promenade facility with little in the way of facilities. A total of 6 little kiosks were provided, but in effect that was about it. It was (and indeed still is) a good length at about 303 metres (1,000 ft). So it makes a nice walk and the Victorians and Edwardians soon took Eastbourne to their hearts, as they took their promenades on the pier.
As Eastbourne Pier became more popular, more services and facilities were provided, including a rather opulent pavilion, with a 400 seat capacity, but this was to be short-lived, since it was only constructed in 1888 but was then replaced with a much grander 1000 seat theatre as well as a bar and office accommodation. Two ‘saloon’ type facilities were introduced halfway down the pier as well, so there was plenty to do.
1912 saw a new entrance being created, which was truly Edwardian and perhaps a little more minimalist than certain Victorian ‘follies’ had been. This air of Edwardian simplicity is still very much retained in Eastbourne Pier today, even though the Edwardian entrance gates were replaced in the 1950’s. They are not, however, vulgar or ugly, but have been designed in accordance with Edwardian charm. So in some ways the fact that part of it was built in Victorian times and part in Edwardian times, makes it an almost unique blend of the best from these two eras, with the Edwardian entrance perhaps influencing it more than the Victorian internal, which has been substantially changed over the years.