OPENING OF THE BRITANNIA PIER
This magnificent attraction to our rising and fashionable watering place, was formally opened on Tuesday afternoon last, by the chairman of the directors (C. C. Aldred, Esq.,) the mayor (F. Worship, Esq.,) and a large body of influential gentlemen connected with, and at present resident in the neighbourhood.
Before proceeding to give outline of the proceedings at the inauguration, it may not be inappropriate to mention that this beautiful structure was commenced about the end of September, 1857, and that, taking all things into consideration—the numerous unforeseen difficulties with which the contractor and engineer have had to contend, the severe gales which threatened in November last to demolish the outworks, and the obstacles which had to be surmounted in obtaining materials —the framework of the pier has been constructed with more than ordinary rapidity, durability, and excellence. Although the structure is not yet absolutely completed, yet we have reason to believe that within the next month it will be in full working order, and at first appurtenances admirably arranged. It will then be 753 feet in length, of which 650 feet will be in the water at high tide. The width of the pier is 24 feet, its height (from the sand beneath) about 15 or 16 feet, while the depth of water the extreme end (or pier-head) will be 28 feet. Eleven of the bays (or arches) are of 20 feet clear width, and 35 feet wide. The pier-head —which will be circular—will be 60 feet in diameter, while the total cost of the erection (including the cost of the Act of Parliament and other expenses), is about £5000. The lodges, at the entrance are most commodious, and contain offices suitable to the requirements of visitors; they were built by Mr. It. Bullimore, of Yarmouth. The railing (which is exceedingly neat and pretty), was furnished by Mr. R. Steward, and the approaches and entrance gates, by Messrs. Thompson and Sons, iron founders, of Norwich. The indefatigable engineer (Mr. A. W. Morant), deserves the utmost praise for the skill and attention he has invariably displayed throughout the work; nor are the claims of the builder (Mr. Geo. Allen, of Lowestoft), less worthy of encomium. In addition to what we have mentioned, we may observe that Hie pier is constructed of Memel timber, that at its head there will be an excellent bathing establishment, while the planking throughout the entire length of the fabric will be caulked, so as to make water tight, and that reading and refreshment rooms will be joined to its other advantages ; nor are the particulars already cited all that can be adduced, for it is the opinion of those best able to judge, that boats will, at all times of the tide (and almost in any weather), he able to land passengers and also sailors from vessels the roads in quest of fresh water, &c, the great depth of water, and the distance of the pier-head from the heavy surf and breakers which so frequently roll along the shore, rendering this a boon long desiderated by the shipping, when lying wind-bound or for orders in our roads.
The weather on Tuesday, although somewhat boisterous, was very favourable for the celebration. A splendid awning or marquee (intended to be permanent), was erected near the end of the pier, and was elegantly fitted up for the accommodation of those who intended to partake of the dejeuner. Some very fine Scotch firs graced the entrance; while flowers, laurels, flags, streamers, and other attractions were placed along the whole length of the pier. Few of those who stood at the extreme end of the structure could avoid admiring he magnificent view which there presented itself. On the north was a long sweep of beach, dotted with hundreds of visitors, while the venerable church of Caister loomed dimly the distance, and, with the straggling cottages and houses near it, looked exceedingly picturesque. the south, the bold promontory which marked the situation of Lowestoft—the gently sloping cliffs of Gorleston, and the pretty headlands which met the gaze of the spectator in that direction, were objects of considerable interest; while the prospect which met the eye towards the east was of more than ordinary grandeur. There is no part of England, indeed we venture to affirm, no part of the world, where such a vast fleet of vessels may be seen from time to time. The tract through the roadstead, which is N.N.E. and S.S.W., is the nearest and most protected highway of the eastern coast, and through and near these roads nearly all the eastern coasting traffic of the kingdom passes, well as all the traffic to the north, from foreign places south of Yarmouth. As many as 2,000 sail have passed through these roads a day! The number of trading vessels (not including those engaged in the fisheries) which pass through these roads is estimated at 40,000 per annum, comprising a tonnage of about 5,200,000 tons! Further, no less than 1,400 vessels have been known to lie at anchor in these roads at a time, and although the number in our roads, at anchor, or passing through, on Tuesday last, was far from equalling this amount, yet the wide expanse of waters was covered with craft of almost every description, size, and nation. In fact universal admiration was expressed with respect to the unrivalled advantages which the Britannia pier presents for the purpose of surveying the shipping and equal gratification was felt that it had been constructed – Shortly after two o’clock the bands of the Fermanagh and East Norfolk Militia took up their positions on the pier, and performed a variety of martial and inspiring airs.
The Mayor and the chairman of the Board of Directors, heading a procession, soon afterwards arrived, and were received at the entrance-gates by a large assemblage of people and a body of beachmen and fishermen, who had come to offer their thanks for the kind offers of the directors to grant the use of the pier for purposes which would aid the funds for the erection of schools for their benefit, and also for other charitable objects in the town.
One of the hardy fellows read the following address:— Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen Directors,—The beachmen of Yarmouth hearing of your kindness in the grant you have given them opening gratis the pier for their benefit, as regards their schools, to help to build them, we wish to return to you our sincere thanks for your kindness, and wish you prosperity in your undertaking.
Mr. C. C. Aldred, on behalf of the directors, said —In the name of the directors I beg to thank you for your good wishes. We shall be most happy to place this pier at the disposal of your school committee to hold a bazaar on any day they may think most convenient. We are pleased to see you set a proper value upon education, for be assured no man makes so good citizen as he who has received a good, sound, and religious education. [Applause.] Once more I thank you for your good wishes. [Loud cheers.]
The company then adjourned to the marquee, where an excellent cold collation was prepared. The arrangements were admirable, the wines good, and all appeared to be pleased,—the presence of a large number of ladies, thee/ire of the locality, adding much to the interest of the proceedings.
The following are amongst those who received invitations, most whom were present:—The Mayor (F. Worship, Esq.), Sir H. Stracey, Bart., Sir E. H. K. Lacon, Bart., Rev. Ci. Hills, B.D , Rev. B. Vaux, 8.D., Rev. J. Bampton, Rev. F. W. Johnson, Hon. Col. Crichton, Captain Nixon, Mrs. Harcourt, Mrs. R. Rising, Mrs. Skinner, Mrs. A Steward, Mr. D. P. Turner, Mrs. A. T. Cory, Capt. Naylor, Mrs. E. H. L. Preston, Mr. W. C. Reynolds, Mrs. Vores, Mr. S. C. Marsh, Miss L. A. Cory, Mr. F. Paull, Mrs. Dury, Mr. J. King, Miss F. and Mr. Hanrott, Mr. J. Dobson, Miss Green,, Mr. A. T. Cory, Mr. E. Garrod, Lieut. Mends, Mrs. S. C. Burton, Mr. H. Gambling, Mr. Fyson, Mr. Morant, Mr. J. T. Thompson, Mrs. C. Cory, Mr. G. S. Harcourt, Mrs. J. B. Bampton, Mr. R. Rising, Mrs. Foster, Mr. J. Yenning, Miss Yenning, Mrs. D. W. Turner, Mr. J. Brightwen, Mrs. Gurney Turner, Dr. Vores, Miss Cory, Mr. E. H. L. Preston, Miss Bampton, Mr. Blackall, Mrs. Marsh, Rev. R. W. Cory, Miss Steward, Miss G. Scoles, Mr. W. Steward, Mr. C. Green,. Mr. J. Keighley, Miss G. Francis, Mr. C. E. Naylor, Mrs. Nixon, Mr. E. Steele, Mr. J. Browne, Mr. G. B. Palmer, Mr. J. C. Smith and family, Mr. Palmer, Dr. Allen, Mr. G. Larkman, Mr. T Burroughes, Mr. C. H. Chamberlin and party, Mr. W. Holt, Mr. H. Jay, Mr. R. D. Barber, Mr. W. J. Foreman, Mr. J. B. Hilton, Mr. W. Laws, Mr. J. A. Barnaby, Mr. D. A. Gourlay and friends, Mr. C. Steward, Mr. J. Longe, Mrs. Mark Waters, Mr. C. J. Palmer, Mrs. Vaux, Mr. A. Steward, Major Archdale, Mrs. W. C. Reynolds, Major Sawrey, Miss Foster, Captain Harcourt, Miss Francis, Lieut. Douglas, R.N., Lady Lacon, C. Steward, Mrs. Isaac Preston, Rev. M. Waters, Lieut. Cornfield, Mrs. Holmes, Mrs. J. Pamer, Mrs. Yenning, Capt. Holmes, Mrs. C. J. Palmer, Mr. Isaac Preston, Mrs. Naylor, Miss Harcourt, Capt. Jervois, Mr. R. Seaman. Mr. R. N. Bacon, Mr. J. C. Smith, Mr. W. Holt, Mr. S. Nightingale, Mr. R. B. Nesbitt, Mr. R. Ferrier, Mr. B. Jay, Mr. G. S. Shingle, Mr. R. R. B. Norman. Mr. W. H. Mr. J. Hammond, Mr. C. E. Bartram, Mr. C. Diver, &c.
The repast concluded, the Chairman (C. C, Aldred, Esq.) gave the usual loyal toasts, which were responded to with the customary enthusiasm.
In proposing the “Army and Navy,” the Chairman remarked that they must all well remember with what thrilling interest they used to read of the dreadful sufferings and heroic exploits of their gallant countrymen the in cold and inhospitable climate of the Crimea and they now watched with equal anxiety each coming Indian mail, which told them of the glorious deeds which a mere handful of British troops, surrounded by thousands of Sepoys, were able to perform, laying down their lives in the defence and preservation one of the brightest jewels in the British crown. The chairmen also paid a high complement to our blue jackets, who had behaved so nobly in India, and concluded by connecting with the toast the names of the Hon. Colonel Crichton and Capt. Tumour, R.N. —[Applause.]
Both of these officers returned thanks, the latter observing that sailors were generally bad orators, and their motto was “deeds not words.”—[Cheers.] —The gallant captain referred to the renowned achievements of the late lamented Sir Wm. Peel, with his blue jackets, on the plains of Hindostan, and then briefly traced the rapid development of our steam navy from vessels of 800 tons and 200 horse power, to ships of I,000 horse power and 4,000 tons. He spoke in terms of pride of the naval power of this country, and said he knew from his own experience that the spirit of their great Norfolk hero still pervaded the service, and that should necessity arise they would be able to cope with the armaments of any other country.—[Loud cheers.]
The Chairman next proposed ” the health of the Lord Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese.” With the toast he would couple the name of one well-known to them all, and to be known was to be appreciated and respected. [Applause.] He (the chairman) thought that it was a great blessing that the spiritual interests of this large and populous parish were entrusted to the care of a clergyman so indefatigable and so zealous as the Rev. Mr. Hills. [Applause.]
The Rev. G. Hills, in acknowledging the compliment, said that the clergy must ever take a deep interest in anything that promoted their country’s welfare. He looked upon the occasion they now celebrated as one which would tend to the advancement of the prosperity of this land. The work which had been brought so nearly to a successful completion, was one that must confer considerable benefits upon the community, benefits of no ordinary kind, and great blessings to many whose health required that they should have the advantages of the sea air, and of a quiet resting place as this spot would afford, situated as it was upon the bosom of the sea. [Hear.] It was also one of those undertakings which had been the means of promoting employment among the working-classes; and all who wished well to their fellow-creatures must ever rejoice to witness an enterprise carried out as this had been, which was useful, so healthful in its influence, and which the same time promoted the circulation of money, to the advantage of the labouring classes. [Applause.] Mr. Hills further observed that there were many enterprises which men were engaged on which they could not invoke the divine blessing, but this was not of that character, but one upon which the blessing of Almighty God could be asked. [Approval.]
The Rev. Mr. Hills again rose, and begged to ask the indulgence of those assembled, while he proposed a toast, which he felt assured would meet with their cordial approbation. They had, for some time past, been much interested in watching the progress of this goodly work, and they had this day the gratification of enjoying a repast, in true English style, upon its almost completed framework. They were indebted for this to the enterprising spirit of Englishmen. [Applause.] The enterprise of Englishmen had been known and acknowledged for many years’ past, in every quarter of the globe. This was one of the features in our history, and there were many others, which proved the paramount importance and influence of Great Britain among the nations of the world. They had just heard of, and it was their pride to rejoice in, the prowess of their army and navy; but it was also the just pride’ of Englishmen’ that they were so forward in the undertaking of gigantic schemes which their ancestors never dreamt of. [Hear, hear.] This was a kind of enterprise which in former times was not entertained, and for its successful completion, they were indebted to the gentleman whose health he was about to propose. He had already alluded to some of the advantages which would be derived from this pier, and he would say that it might be the means of inducing many young persons to pass their leisure here, enjoying the cool sea breezes, instead of employing it an improper manner elsewhere. Here they would promote that advantageous state of body which would go along with a sound state of mind—” Men’s sana in corpore sons.” They would also probably find that this enterprise would beget another. [Hear, hear.] An old writer informed them that where Yarmouth now stands was once under the ocean, but that at length the land put its head above water, and never went under the waves afterwards. So they would probably be found with enterprises of this description—when one was completed another was preparing to take its place. [Hear, hear.] It was but short time ago that they met upon the Wellington-pier, which was then thought to be a wonderful undertaking, and they praised the promoters for it; but by and by they had a project for a marine drive. Many persons thought the latter too great an undertaking for the town, and did not appear to entertain the proposition favourably, but now it was nearly completed, and much good had resulted therefrom. The project for this pier was afterwards brought forward, and was now nearly finished. Shortly they might not unreasonably look forward to another undertaking still more gigantic and still more interesting, to which they would be invited to celebrate the completion. [Hear hear.] It was not merely themselves who were benefitted or were encouraged to greater undertakings of this kind, but they had a place to which persons were attracted from other parts who were interested in these matters. [Hear.] There were those from the rural districts who left their mansions, their green lanes and verdant glades, in order to enjoy for a time the sea breezes by coming to Yarmouth ; and by contributing to their comfort the people of this town would induce a still greater number of visitors to partake yearly of their hospitality, and not only their country neighbours, but they also drew here the denizens of cities. [Hear, hear.] Many persons from the metropolis came here to enjoy the sea breezes, instead of being confined in the sultry streets of London, and walking uncomfortably the neighbourhood of old father Thames. [A laugh] In former days poets wrote of the ” silvery stream, clear and deep,” but it was not so now, but a Stygian sewer. [A laugh.] The rev. gentleman concluded by proposing “the health of Mr. C. C. Aldred and the Directors of the Company of the Britannia pier.” Applause.]
The Chairman briefly but appropriately responded, observing that he thought great credit was due to the shareholders for the spirited manner in which they came forward to erect this pier. Those living at this end of the town felt the want of it, and the useful erection (the Wellington pier) the other end showed more strongly their deficiency at this extremity. Without, however, sitting down and grumbling at their position they set to work, under the able direction of Mr. C. Cory, — for without his energetic determination and perseverance they would not now be celebrating the opening of the pier—[cheers]—and issued circulars, mooting the project. Almost every share was at once taken up by the inhabitants, which shewed that they appreciated the scheme, and that it was required. He trusted that those who lived at this end of the town would enjoy the benefit of their pier, as did those who resided in the locality of the Wellington pier. Farther, he trusted that it would be a paying concern, and no want of care on the part of the directors should prevent its being so. [Cheers.]
Sir Henri Stracey next proposed a toast. The hon. baronet said, as a Norfolk man, he felt proud at being present upon this occasion, and he felt pleasure that so noble a work had been undertaken, carried out, and accomplished by the sinews of Norfolk men, speaking both figuratively and literally. [Hear, hear.] After passing a graceful and glowing eulogium on the ladies, thanking them for their attendance and the interest they had shewn in the proceedings, he referred to the delightful weather with which the inauguration had been so fortunately favoured. The hon. baronet then proposed “the Mayor and Corporation of Yarmouth,” and said that everything was flourishing under their guidance. [Cheers.] A more popular mayor, one who had more the interests of the town at heart, than the present mayor, had never filled the high position which that gentleman then occupied. [Applause.] Sir Henry concluded by calling for bumper, which was most cordially received.
The Mayor, in responding, was warmly greeted. After thanking the assembly for their cordial reception, he referred to the zeal which had been evinced by the corporation of Yarmouth within the past few years, in order to advance the true interests of the borough. [Hear, hear.] His worship spoke of the town as being one of the largest ports in England; and then proceeded to describe its state a few years ago. Examples were always contagious, whether for good or evil. At the time to which he referred, just after reforms in corporations had taken place, (the old corporation having given way to a new one,) affairs in the town appeared to be quite at a stand-still, no change, no alteration took place aiming at a better state of things, and those in authority appeared to be fast asleep; indeed it hardly seemed possible that matters could go worse. [Hear, hear, and a laugh.] But a change had since then taken place, and the result had been shewn the exertions which had been made, and the energy exhibited to promote the material prosperity of the borough. [Cheers.] The present corporation had carried out and perfected the drainage of the town, walks had been formed, old houses had been pulled down in order to improve the aspect of the locality, a marine parade had been built, piers had appeared here and there; indeed in every respect it would be observed that these results had followed within the past four or five years from the increased exertions and attention of the corporation. [Loud cheers.] He believed that had not this new state of affairs been introduced they would not now be celebrating this pier. [Hear.] The corporation of Yarmouth deserved well the good opinion formed by the public, and in the name of the corporation he begged to return thanks. [Applause.]
The Mayor then proposed “The health of Mr. C. Cory,” spoke of his undeviating attention to the wants of the town, and of his interest in the promotion of its prosperity, for which the inhabitants were much indebted to him. [Cheers.] The Mayor also referred to the fact, that no respect, either directly or indirectly, had Mr. Cory taken advantage of his position as town clerk, to promote the carrying out of this pier, but had acted solely as private individual the matter. [Hear, hear.]
Mr. C. Cory, on presenting himself, was much applauded. He said the pier on which they were then assembled was one that he and others interested in the prosperity of this end of the town, had got up without reference to anything but the benefit which would accrue generally to the inhabitants. They had no private ends in view, (cheers,) but it was their duty, having a large stake here, to promote an undertaking of this kind, seeing that the other pier was such an accommodation to those living in its immediate locality. That the project was appreciated was evidenced by the very large attendance there that day, and the gratification of having so many ladies present was an additional pleasure. [Cheers.] He trusted that they would be able to show that the pier would not only be used for the recreation of the inhabitants and for the amusement of persons walking upon it, but he hoped that it would be used for charitable purposes, and to advance the charitable institutions of the town. [Cheers.] He also believed that it would prove useful to the shipping passing through the roadsteads—roadsteads-which were the most important in the kingdom, as from 40,000 to 50,000 ships passed through them every year. There was no telegraph station upon this coast, communicating with London, but arrangements were now being made with Lloyd’s in order to erect such a station here, so that they would soon have the means of communicating with all other ports. Arrangements had also been made with the meteorological society to establish an observatory here, so-as to test the winds, tides, and all atmospheric changes, which were so important to notice. Another important thing was the establishment below of an aquarium on a large scale, for the purpose of making useful experiments on the fish that visited our coasts. After referring to one or two other features of moment, Mr. Cory concluded by proposing ” the health of Capt. Harcourt.”
Capt. Harcourt responded in a humorous speech, after which the health’s of the engineer, Mr. A. W. Morant, and the contractor, Mr. Allen, were drunk and acknowledged.
The last toast, ” The Ladies,” was given by Mr. Steward, and was honoured with the usual manifestations.
In the evening the event was celebrated in various parts of the town with much rejoicing. Fireworks were exhibited, bands of music played, and in the public gardens the votaries of Terpsichore danced until they were exhausted. Tuesday last will henceforth figure as a red-letter day the annals of Yarmouth.