The ‘pier’ as Wikipedia states does have slightly different meanings in various parts of the world (such as in the USA where it will often refer to a working pier for shipping and cargo). However, the popular idea of the pier is that of one for leisure purposes. They are a place we remember during childhood trips to the seaside and when taking our own children to the pier it still evokes those childlike emotions of excitement and wonder.
A pier can be quite a grand structure with theatres, amusements and even rollercoasters. They can also be more modest and simple affairs but still provide a fanciful and leisurely way to ‘walk’ out over the sea.
Piers first emerged in England as a form of transport infrastructure, carrying travellers from the shore to steamers out at sea. The very first was constructed in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, in 1812, to carry passengers to and from ferries moored beyond the shallow coastline.
In this respect, Britain’s first piers were little more than a passing pitstop before the real holiday began. But over time, they grew into one of the most popular aspects of a British summer holiday.
Just as Britain’s mastery of iron had made popular rail travel possible, it made rickety wooden piers a thing of the past. Suddenly, piers could be built to last, and eventually with the strength to hold thousands of visitors, seas of slot-machines and even whole amusement rides.
Even in summer, Victorian holiday-goers would don stiff crinoline dresses and stiflingly modest suits and frocks. And there was no better way for fashion-conscious Brits to show off their regalia than by promenading along the pier.
Indeed, before the popularisation of pier-top amusement arcades, piers were primarily a place to take a peaceful stroll out above the sea.
Interesting fact – during World War II, when fears over a Hitler invasion raged, many piers [in Britain] were partly decommissioned.
Enjoy this gallery as we take a stroll on piers all around the world in yesteryear and today –