Since its construction in 1876 Yarmouth Pier has had many adventures....despite never leaving home!

It has been crashed into, threatened with closure, eaten away by marine creatures such as the gribble and battered by wind, waves and sediment from the seabed. Despite such difficulties Yarmouth Pier remains a beautiful and interesting resident of the Isle of Wight and has many fascinating stories to tell. Over 140 years of living in the area makes the Pier uniquely placed to tell its tales of the high seas, surrounding landscape, people and wildlife. The Pier’s Tale, a project supported by HLF and Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners, will restore Yarmouth Pier during 2018 and help us all to explore and discover more of its tales for many years to come.

The Pier's Tale project looks at the different elements of the Pier's life. Throughout the website you can find out more about underwater life, history and heritage, educational activities and the restoration works past, present and future! 

Pier Pressure - The story of the work on the Pier as it is dismantled and rebuilt to replace the wood that has been eaten away by marine creatures and damaged by wind and waves. Find out about the special timber that is being used and how we can reduce the amount of this important and scarce resource we need for future work. 

Pier Beneath - Discovering life below and around the Pier and understanding more about how the structure is used to support a wide range of different and fascinating marine species. Through surveys and underwater cameras we are learning more about the local marine life and sharing a glimpse of it with everyone that visits. 

Pier into the Past - Sharing the fascinating tales of local history and maritime archaeology and archiving the existing documents to keep them safe for years to come. A number of talks and presentations about the history of the local area have already been very popular and we will soon be asking volunteers to help with archiving aspect of the project.

Pier in a Box - Constructing the Pier all over the Island with schools and community groups and learning more about all of the different parts of the project, coastal engineering and the materials involved. 

Information will be added to the website as the project progresses but things are moving very quickly at the moment so please see the Pier's own facebook page - Yarmouth Pier - The Pier's Tale - for regular updates, lots of photographs and videos of the work that's underway.

 

Yarmouth Pier

Yarmouth Pier extends directly north from the town square of Yarmouth, known as Pier Square, from Yarmouth Town Conservation Area and the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty into the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation. It is also within a proposed Marine Conservation Zone that would extend along the north-west coast of the Isle of Wight from Yarmouth to Cowes. In 1931 Yarmouth Pier became the responsibility of Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners and in 1975 it received Grade 2 listed status, recognising its local and national importance for its unique design and wooden construction.

In 1870, Yarmouth Corporation first discussed the possibilities of constructing a pier, as a deep water terminal for the cross-Solent passenger service to Lymington. Two years later it seemed that the railway company had lost interest in the project, however, the Yar Pier Order was passed by an Act of Parliament in 1874 and the Corporation received permission to construct a pier 700 ft long, to be built out from the shore at the bottom of Bank Street. The pier was designed by Denham and Jenvey and built by a local contractor J. Denham of Freshwater at a cost of £4,000. The first pile was driven in June 1875 and it was opened on 19th July 1876. 

Soon after opening the pier was damaged when a ship drifted into the structure after breaking loose from its moorings. In August 1877 the Corporation put in new gates to restrict access, despite substantial local opposition to the plan. The disagreement arose because the gates would also restrict access to the beach from where many local people launched their boats and this would affect their livelihoods. Shortly after the gates were installed they were forcibly removed by members of the local community and they were never replaced.

In February 1891 the Yarmouth Town Trust took over administration of the pier and one of their first actions was to improve access by demolishing buildings on the western side of Bank Street, creating Pier Square. The pier suffered damage again when the barge 'Shamrock' crashed into the structure and in 1916 the Yarmouth Town Trust spent £250 on replacement piles. The offices and a waiting room (now the café Gossips) were built at the shoreward end in 1927, at a cost of £2,000.

After the passing of the 'Yarmouth Pier and Harbour Order, 1931' the pier came under the control of the Pier and Harbour Commissioners. At the time the pier was well used by steamers and tourists but following the construction of the new slipway in the harbour in 1938, the use of the pier significantly reduced. In 1975 the pier was awarded Grade II listing by English Heritage (now Historic England), as a structure of historical and architectural interest.  The timber construction, lattice design of the handrails / balustrade and the roundhouse were all noted to be of special interest within the Grade II listing.

 

Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners

Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners (YHC) is a non-profit making Trust Port set up by statute in 1931. It is an organisation that has to be run on a commercial basis under the Trust Port guidance from the Department of Transport in order to create a surplus which can be reinvested into the harbour for the benefits of its wide variety of stakeholders. Trust Ports do not receive any public funding and are also subject to corporation tax.

Yarmouth Pier is just one of the responsibilities of YHC and it is rarely used as a landing stage other than the occasional visiting heritage vessel, such as the PS Waverley and the MV Balmoral. This means that the Pier is no longer a key element of the Commissioners’ business but it remains a very popular heritage asset and local amenity and requires daily maintenance to keep it clean and functional for visitors.

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