Bognor Regis pier history

Bognor Regis pier

Bognor Regis pier

Bognor Regis pier view from above

Bognor Regis pier view from above

Bognor Regis pier
Bognor Regis pier view from above

How old is the pier at Bognor Regis? - the first construction was in 1865.

First built by the Bognor Promenade Company, the original Bognor Regis pier took some 18 months to complete and was opened on the 4th May 1865. Costing £5000 to construct, Bognor's first pier consisted of a basic jetty which was some 1,000-ft in length with a kiosk at the shore end where for the sum of 1d visitors could stroll down to the end of the pier and admire the views that the pier provided.

Unlike the majority of piers that were built at that time, Bognor Pier was a private undertaking constructed with the help of local labour. In 1876 the pier was purchased by the local council for the sum of £1200, after which a small bandstand was added. Some 35 years after initial construction, the first pavilion was built at the seaward end, opening on 9th July 1900.

The following year, saw the construction of a landing stage at the seaward end to allow paddle steamers to dock. By 1906 the landing stage had become redundant due to the fact that larger more modern vessels found the docking facility rather inadequate. Due to ever increasing maintenance costs and an estimate for repairs mounting to £ 11,000 the Council of the time made a decision to sell Bognor Pier in 1908 for just 10s. 6d (about 50p in today’s money) to Messrs. Stanley and Carter. Over the next few years, they invested almost £30,000 into the pier. After this initial investment and major restoration, the pier pavilion was once opened again in 1909, in time for the Easter Bank holiday.

Bognor Regis Pier Theatre

Over the next few years, the shore end of the pier was widened to 80ft (24.2m), which allowed space for a theatre seating 1,400, a cinema (the first in Bognor Regis), and a roof garden restaurant and 12 shops. 1936 saw a new 109ft (33m) three-tier landing stage built at the sea end. The higher level was used for paddle steamers and the two lower levels for smaller vessels. In the 1930''s, diving displays had become very popular at seaside resorts (with piers), and Bognor Regis saw its fair share. Throughout the season, weather permitting, displays were given twice a day. During the Second World War Bognor Regis Pier was used by the Royal Navy as an observation station and was renamed to HMS Patricia. In the years of 1964-1965 severe storms caused the seaward end structure to collapse, causing the total loss of the pavilion. In 1966 the pier was sold to the American Novelty Company but was forced to close once again in December 1974 after two fires broke out.

Bognor Regis Pier Awarded Grade II Listed status

In 1989, Bognor Regis Pier was awarded a Grade II listing status by English Heritage on 27th April. Despite this,  the condition of the seaward end of the pier continued to decline, and by 1994 an application was made to demolish the remaining seaward end of the structure.

Pier Sold in 1996

In 1996 the pier was sold to Bognor Pier Leisure Limited.  An application was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the £2,000,000 needed to restore it. Unfortunately this application was rejected, now leaving the derelict seaward end at risk of being lost totally.

1999 - Severe Storms cause more damage to the pier

In 1999, further storms caused more of the pier to be lost to the sea. In the last few years, further rough seas have caused weakening of the remaining seaward end structure, and in 2008 80-ft of the pier was removed for safety reasons despite the owners spending £50,000 on this section five years previously.

For more information about the history of Bognor Regis pier, visit the Bognor Regis Trails website.