National Piers Society
History of Boscombe Pier

The Boscombe Pier Company was formed in 1886 and the first pile was laid on 11th October 1888. Designed by Archibald Smith, the 600 foot pier opened on 28th July 1889 but, initially, was not successful.

The local council took over the pier in 1904 and erected buildings at the entrance and on the pier-head. Facilities included a busy steamer landing stage. In 1940, the pier was breached for defence reasons.

In 1924/5 and 1927, the head was renewed in high alumina concrete and, between 1958 and 1960, the neck was reconstructed using reinforced concrete.

A restaurant and the Mermaid Theatre were built at the pier-head in 1961 although the ‘Theatre’, in fact, opened as a covered roller-skating rink for its first two seasons. In April 1965, the leaseholder, Cleethorpes Amusements, converted it into an arcade. The council formally took over the Mermaid ‘Theatre’ in 1988 when the lease ended.

From June 1982, the council began pursuing a policy of joint redevelopment with private leisure organisations with a view to reconstructing the pier-head which closed, on safety grounds, in 1990. The neck of the pier remained open but the Mermaid ‘Theatre’ was just used as a storage area.

In 2008, the area around Boscombe pier underwent extensive renovation. The derelict and unsafe building at the end of the pier was demolished, and replaced by a simple viewing and fishing platform. The rest of the pier was also restored.

Nearby, construction of Europe's first artificial surf reef was completed and restoration work took place on the nearby Overstrand buildings.

In June 2010, at the National Piers Society Annual General Meeting at Bournemouth, the Pier of the Year award was accepted by the MP for Bournemouth East, Tobias Ellwood, and a representative of Inspieration on behalf of Boscombe Pier. The picture shows the Society's President, Gavin Henderson CBE making the presentation. Click the image to enlarge the picture.

In August 2010, a memorial bench was installed on the pier to remember four surfers who died between 2005 and 2009.

In April 2011, the Boscombe land train route was  extended to Boscombe precinct and was an immediate success.

Then in June 2011, just three years after the renovation project, the concrete casing around some of the pier supports appeared to be crumbling after it was reported to have been hit by a contractor's barge. And by September 2011, every pile supporting the pier showed hairline cracks. Bournemouth Borough Council said the pier remained structurally sound and safe for public use while investigations regarding repair work continued.

In August 2011, the lights on the pier were turned off because, it was claimed, they kept leaking rainwater and short circuiting. In March 2012, it was reported that Bournemouth Council had to share a bill of over £5,500 to repair the pier lights after they kept short circuiting in the rain. They had earlier been off for a year after contractor Carillion fitted them during a £2.4million renovation.


  Pier Statistics
Length Opened Status Owner
Initially 600ft
Now 750Ft (229m)
1889 Grade II Bournemouth Council

  Pier News
Apr 2015 - Fresh questions raised over cracking in Boscombe Pier
Mar 2015 - Questions raised over cracks in Boscombe Pier
See Pier Newslinks Archive for earlier stories
Pier Gallery
Flickr gallery of images of Boscombe Pier
Simplon Postcards of Boscombe Pier
Google search for all images of Boscombe Pier
Pier Movies  
YouTube time-lapse video of the pier reconstruction
Pier Weblinks
Bournemouth Borough Council page about the pier
Inspieration - Friends of Boscombe Pier
History of Boscombe - The Eighties
Google Streetview
Click here for the live webcam of Boscombe
Pier Weather

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