Great Yarmouth Britania Pier, Norfolk
Great Yarmouth Britannia Pier has an impressive history of fires.
The original wooden structure was opened in 1858 and just one year later was badly damaged by the schooner James and Jessie, resulting in the pier loosing 50 feet of its length. In 1868 storm damage resulted in the pier being shortened even more.
By the end of the century Great Yarmouth was popular with day trippers and it was decided that the town needed a serious substantial pier to encourage the profitable tourist trade enjoyed by so many English coastal towns. In 1899 the old pier was demolished, and work started on a new pier. The new Great Yarmouth Britannia Pier opened in 1902 and had its first fire that same year.
It had opened with a temporary pavilion, which was replaced with a Grand Pavilion the following year and destroyed in a fire seven years later.
A second Pavilion was completed in 1910 but this was to burn down in April 1914 as a result of an arson attack by Hilda Burkitt and Florence Tunks, two suffragettes, who were annoyed at being refused permission to hold a meeting there. A third Pavilion was hastily constructed and opened in July of the same year.
The pier’s Floral Hall Ballroom opened in May 1928 and was destroyed by fire in August 1932.
The new Grand Ballroom opened in 1933. It survived the Luftwaffe and the German Navy and re-opened after the war had ended in 1947, only to burn down in April 1954, along with the third pavilion.
The present pavilion opened in June 1958, but the Ballroom, (called the Ocean Ballroom from 1947), was never replaced and against the run of play is still standing. You will not find Shakespeare staged there, but you might find a Mrs Brown’s Boys tribute show.
Today’s Great Yarmouth Pier is not about genteel promenading, it’s about arcades, slot machines, rides, karaoke, et al, the bar, with DJ, stays open until 4am during the summer months – fun for all the family.