Weston Super Mare Grand Pier
The Grand Pier at Weston Super Mare opened in 1904, 38 years after the opening of Birnbeck Pier, less than a mile to the north,
Built with a pavilion at the seaward end for music, concerts, plays, ballet and boxing, it was an impressive building with a glass toped dome with turrets at the corners.
A couple of years after its opening an extension was built as a landing stage for boats but was rarely used because the sea currents made it difficult to dock, the very reason that Birnbeck was built where it was. So few boats used it that it was demolished by 1918.
Kiosks along the length of the pier sold the usual array of trinkets and sweets. It was trying its best to entice visitors away from the more established Birnbeck Pier and did have the advantage of being nearer to the train station that brought visitors to the town. A trip there was mentioned in Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee, who visited as a youngster.
Amusement machines were added in 1926, but in January 1930 the pavilion was destroyed by fire, although rebuilt by 1933. Despite local opposition, the new building housed a funfair that was popular with visitors and far more profitable than the theatre had been towards the end of its days.
Unusually it opened during the summer months of the Second World War.
New owners in 2008 invested a considerable amount of money in the pier, only for there to be a devastating fire that same year. The private security company paid to monitor the fire alarms were made aware of a problem in the early hours of the 28th July. When they failed to make contact with anyone by mobile phone, they took no action. Five hours later the fire service deployed 13 fire engines and more than 85 firefighters, but all too late to save the pavilion.
Enquiries put the cause down to an electrical fault. 5 years later the security company was found to be responsible due to negligence and fined a substantial amount of money.
The new, modern replacement pavilion opened in October 2010 and Weston Super Mare Grand Pier once again resumed its place as a major attraction.