In the late-nineteenth century the English invention of the pleasure pier was imported into Belgium, resulting in the building of Blankenberge’s first pier in 1894.
The original pier in Blankenberge was made of iron, wood and glass. The promenade had a music kiosk halfway along it and at the end was an octagonal platform supporting a pavilion, topped by an ornate cupola with a restaurant and ballroom. Visitors had to buy a ticket to walk along the pier – it was quite a novelty in those days.
Unfortunately, in 1914 the Germans set fire to the pier, leaving only a blackened skeleton. It remained like that for nearly 20 years until the city drew up plans to rebuild it in 1930. Some of the old pilings and foundations of the first pier were reused, but the main construction material this time was concrete. The new pier opened in 1933.
During the Second World War, the pier escaped destruction by the Germans a second time when the local commander, Sergeant Karl Hein Keselberg, disobeyed orders to blow it up. He reasoned that the water was too shallow to be accessible to enemy ships and so destroying it was unnecessary. In 1994, the city of Blankenberge honoured the sergeant for his role in saving the pier.