Sandown Pier, Isle of Wight
The original pier was just 360 feet long and opened in 1879. It should have been longer, but the company responsible for building it ran out of money.
In 1895 its length was more than doubled with a pavilion constructed at the seaward end. A landing stage was added to accommodate steamers that took holidaymakers on trips around the island, as well as to Bournemouth and Brighton, even occasionally across the English Channel to Cherbourg.
In 1934, while the seaward end pavilion was in use as a ballroom, a much bigger second pavilion was built at the shore end for concerts.
During the Second World War the pier was sectioned for defence reasons and although it survived intact, the war didn’t do its condition any favours. Refurbishment was relatively quick and the pier was opened again in 1947. Other improvements were carried out over several years, including a new landing stage, although the popularity of steamers was by then in decline and services had completely stopped by 1967. The seaward end pavilion then became a bar until being demolished the following year.
Summer shows in the 60s at the main pavilion included all the big variety stars of the time who were regulars on Sunday Night at the London Palladium on television: Jimmy Tarbuck, Harry Seacombe, Petula Clark, Dick Emery and Matt Monro. It also staged shows by amateur groups from the island.
The character of the pier changed after a fire in 1989: although the theatre was refurbished and redecorated, it didn’t last much longer as a venue for variety shows. As they went out, in came the amusement arcades, rides and gift shops.
Other Isle of Wight Piers: