Many piers were built originally as places for steamships to land their passengers and then later evolved into pleasure piers for promenading. I don’t think that this was ever an option for Hythe Pier, it’s far too narrow.
It was opened on New Years’ Day in 1881 to take passengers across the Solent to the Royal Pier at Southampton. The Royal Pier is no longer there but passengers can still take the ferry over to the Town Quay, Southampton. Ferries run all day well into the evening.
The piers’ main point of interest is its’ trains, which were installed in 1922 and are still running today. They were built for a factory that made mustard gas in Avonmouth during the First World War. At the end of the war they were converted from battery to electric and brought to Hythe.