Plymouth Promenarde Pier
This was the last pier of the great Eugenius Birch, opened in May 1884, five months after his death.
The Mayor headed the opening ceremony to the sound of the Band of the Royal Marines playing to some 30,000 people, many of whom were on the new pier.
Perhaps best to leave it to a contemporary of the day to describe the pier.
“It is one of the latest additions to the many attractions of Plymouth and is one of the finest structures of the kind on the coast, its total length being 480 feet. On the pier head is erected a handsome windscreen, enclosing a space 120ft by 109 ft in which the bandstand is erected, also a large number of reserved chairs for the use of visitors not wishing to promenade during the concerts which are its chief attraction, the Royal Marine and other Military Bands, which it is the good fortune of Plymouth to have stationed in her midst, performing frequently.
In providing good landing accommodation for all kinds of vessels at any time of tide, the Pier has supplied a long-felt want, and it is anticipated that yachting at the port will receive quite an impetus, not that the cause of complaints in this respect has been removed.
We must refer visitors to the time bills for particulars of the large number of pleasure steamers leaving the Pier, for the enjoyable water excursions to the celebrated Eddystone Lighhouse, up the River Tamar, and other rivers, all of which are worth a visit.”
Seven years later a 2000 seat pavilion was added and was used for all sorts of entertainment, including concerts, dancing, boxing and wrestling as well as roller-skating, which was very popular in those days on many piers.
Only three years later, the pier was sold to a businessman with deep pockets. His company made significant and much needed improvements by putting a roof on the bandstand and installing wind breaks and other weather proofing, very necessary in a place like Plymouth.
Public interest in piers declined in the first half of the century as more people travelled further by trains and a Receiver had to be appointed in 1938. Before a benefactor could be found the Germans destroyed the pier by bombing in 1942. The last of it was demolished in 1952.
There are regular calls for the pier to be rebuilt with a new take on the original design, so, who knows, maybe it will be reborn one day – hope so.