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Royal Pier

Royal Pier

View this story in pictures

Royal Pier. Opening Ceremony
In the early 1800s, ships that called at Southampton mainly used Watergate Quay (on the site of Town Quay) as their mooring point. Berths were only available at high tide. In 1829, the Harbour Commissioners, driven by a pressure group of townspeople, approved the building of a pier for passenger steamers. The pier was to be made of wood and built on the site of 'the gravel' - a shingle sandbank to the west of Watergate Quay. The Royal Victoria Pier was opened on 8th July 1833 by the Duchess of Kent and her daughter, Princess (soon to be Queen) Victoria.

Paddle Steamer At The Pier
The railway reached the pier in 1871, having been extended from Terminus station along Town Quay. It carried passengers to steamers that departed from the pier for the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.

Royal Pier
Because it was made of wood, the Royal Pier as it became known, needed constant repair. In 1892 it was replaced by a structure made of cast iron. The new pier, the largest of its kind in southern England, also became a place for local people to promenade. It featured a pavillion seating 1000 people, a bandstand, amusement hall and refreshment rooms.

Pier Entrance And Toll House
In 1917, a train ferry service was set up from a temporary brick-built pier in the same area. Operating to Dieppe three times a week, it carried supplies over to France. During World War 2, the Royal Pier pavillion was used to billet troops; in an air raid, part of the pier was damaged by an enemy bomb. The Royal Pier was destroyed by fire in 1987, but the white Toll House, built at the entrance to the pier, still stands.


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