Pier today, gone tomorrowJuly 28, 2008
I heard a sad piece of news driving to work today. the Grand Pier at Weston Super Mare, one of mine and Julie’s favourite haunts burnt down early this morning, leaving only the base of the Grade II listed Victorian structure intact. What is it about piers and fires? Something to do with water and electronics not mixing too well? Since the beginning of the twentieth century there have been no fewer than 24 major fires recorded on UK piers.
This isn’t the first time Weston’s pier has been ablaze, the first time back in 1930 completely destroyed it. Brighton’s piers seem to spend more time alight than not, with the West pier remaining a burnt out wreck to this day, its sad image providing the sleeve to Martin Brandlmayer and Marin Siewert’s2003 album Too beautiful to burn. In 2005 Southend pier burnt fown for the fourth (yes thats fourth time) in fifty years, whilst the pier at Colwyn Bay has burnt down twice, as has Great Yarmouth Pier. Hunstanton pier in Norfolk is barely a beginner having only burnt down the once, though the damage on that occasion is thought to have topped the Â£2M mark.
Amazing figures, but this is such sad news today. I visited the pier earlier this year as my ongoing love of the nostalgic decadence of slowly dying English seaside resorts leads me back there at least once every twelve months or so. Some of my earliest memories are of running up and down that pier, trying not to step on the cracks in the wooden floor for fear of falling (impossibly) through them to the sand below. (Not the sea mind, noone has seen the sea that close to the seafront at Weston for a century or so) the English pier is nothing great to see, not something I would ever recommend to a tourist, but if you are English, older than 25, and you ever went on a family holiday to the English coast as a child you will feel the same pain as me when you see the mess left of Weston pier.