Ryde Pier, Isle of Wight
The first pier at Ryde was built in 1814, it was brick at the dry end with a wooden structure reaching out into the Solent, with steps down to the sea. As soon as it was finished it was obvious that it was too short for ships to dock at certain times, principally because of the mud flats. Extensions were added almost immediately and then again in 1824, a landing stage added in 1827, extended again in 1833 and the width increased to allow two-way carriage traffic.
Queen Victoria visited the Isle of Wight from 1831, when she was 12, and would have landed and embarked from Ryde Pier many times. The Queen and Prince Albert purchased Osbourne House in 1845, helping to make the island a popular tourist destination. About that time a toll house and pavilion were built with regular concerts being held at the end of the pier.
A second iron pier was built next to the fist in 1864. This carried passengers in horse drawn trams from the pier head to the Esplanade and then on to link up with the trains for Shanklin and Ventnor.
In July 1880 a third pier was opened alongside the first two, this one providing a direct steam railway link from the town to the pier-head to meet the ferries. A concert pavilion was constructed at the pier-head a few years later.
During the Second World War troops with anti-aircraft guns were billeted in the pavilion. The Luftwaffe attacked on a few occasions, but were unable to hit their target.
After the war the Island rapidly became a popular family holiday destination. My brother and I were taken to Blackgang Chine as children and many years later I took my daughters there. In the 50s and 60s the pavilion became a bar and amusement arcade, the hall became the Seagull Ballroom and staged many popular groups, including my old favourites – Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.
The train service from the end of the pier to the Esplanade is now operated by a retired London Underground train; riding on it takes me back to my early days growing up in old London.
Other Isle of Wight Piers:
Totland Bay Pier