Southend-on-Sea Pier, Essex

Southend-on-Sea Pier, Essex, October 2011

Spans:Thames Estuary
Design:(i) Messrs Walker; (ii) James Brunlees
Construction:(i) wood; (ii) cast iron screw piles, steel joints, timber walkway, reinforced concrete piles
Year opened:(i) 1829; (ii) 1890
Original length:(i) 183m; 2013m, 1846; (2) 2159m, 1929
Present length:2159m
Fire:1959, 1976, 1995, 2005
Restoration:1846, 1945-50, 1960, 1974, 1979, 1984-6, 1989, 2000-07

Following an extension in 1989, Southend Pier became the longest in Europe, stretching 2159 metres into the Thames Estuary. Sir John Betjeman, Poet Laureate and pier enthusiast, on learning that the council had voted to close the pier, famously declared: ‘the pier is Southend, Southend is the pier.’ During World War II the Navy requisitioned the pier, renaming it HMS Leigh.  It was fortified by pill-boxes, anti-aircraft guns and depth charges and became the control centre for all shipping on the Thames and the assembly point for wartime convoys.  The pier’s railway is still in operation.

Western Esplanade

Participating Galleries

Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool - 10 July - 27 September
Turner Contemporary, Margate - 1 July - 28 September

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Southend Pier
KEY: white circle = pier & black square = venue