Pier keeps crowds coming for 134 years

Skegness Pier in 1881
Skegness Pier in 1881

Its fortunes may have fluctuated over the years, but Skegness Pier is getting set to celebrate its 134th birthday on the crest of a wave.

The resort was welcoming its first visitors when The Earl of Scarbrough helped form the Skegness Pier Company.

Skegness Pier pictured from the front.

Skegness Pier pictured from the front.

Offering a £50 premium for the best design, the company received 44 entries, with six shortlisted.

The design of Clarke and Pickwell of Hull was chosen, and Head Wrightson of Stockton given the contract to build the pier.

Work began in 1880, and on June 4 1881, the pier was opened amid great ceremony by the then Duke of Edinburgh.

Costing £20,840 to build the pier was 1817 ft long with a deck width of 25ft.

The entrance consisted of a large Gothic style archway flanked by smaller kiosks. The T-shaped pier head contained a concert hall seating 700.

Boat trips, organised by the Skegness Steam Boat Comp, began in 1882, providing popular excursions across The Wash to Hunstanton.

During the Second World War, the pier became a restricted area. It re-opened in 1948 after £23,528 had been spent on repairs.

In 1971, the pier entrance and archway were demolished for a new building housing shops, cafes and amusement arcades.

The pier was sold in 1976 to Robin Mitchell, head of a local engineering company. In January 1978 it was severely damaged by a gale and high spring tides. The derelict theatre was demolished seven years later.

From that low ebb the pier’s prospects were revived with a £5m development to rebuild a 100 metre walkway. The most recent setback saw the bowling centre and Laserquest flooded in the December 2013 tidal surge.

Costing more than £1 million to refurbish, the pier now boasts 10 new bowling lanes and Hollywood Bar and Diner.

Skegness Pier director Carolyn Wilkinson said: “I am very proud as a Skegness citizen born and bred to be the current custodian of this famous landmark.”

She added: “The pier has had to keep evolving over the years and has suffered several major setbacks over its 134 year history which have been well documented in local history books.

“I am delighted that one of my daughters, Gabriella, has now joined the family business and is helping to keep up to date with the current trends within the leisure industry.”