The Opening of the newly refurbished Swanage Pier and The 1859 Pier Café and Bistro and Shop
Members of the Dorset Coastal Cottages were invited to the opening of the newly refurbished Swanage Pier, Shop and Café.
The original pier was built in 1859 to 1861, by James Walton of London for the Swanage Pier and Tramway Company. Its purpose was to aid shipping of cargo, timber, coal, fish and stone. Intending to link Swanage and Langton Matravers quarries with the pier, it included a standard gauge tramway. This was later altered to narrow gauge after the new pier was built. Horses pulled the carts along the tramway, which ran along the pier and seafront. Some of the old tracks can be seen today, inset into the seafront walks. A new pier was built in 1895, designed primarily for passenger steamers and it is one of only 14 remaining timber piers in the country. Fast forward to the 1990s and the Swanage Pier Trust took control of the Pier Company at the end of 1994. The trust’s aim is to restore it and maintain it for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.
5 years ago the renovation plans began. Wessex Water agreed to sell the Marine Villas building to the trust, but they had no money. However, with careful planning, the Heritage Lottery Funding donated £1 million to the trust and the rest of the renovation money was raised by donations and the local community. The trust relies entirely on charitable donations to survive.
We were invited to the grand opening of the newly renovated Victorian Pier.
After a Bucks Fizz reception and speeches from the Trustees, we all walked onto the pier to watch the ribbon being cut. This was done by Actor and TV presenter Timothy West CBE, Honorary Patron of the National Piers Society.
We strolled along to the end of the pier and admired the fantastic views. Top 10 Things to Do at Swanage Pier: Spot the Isle of Wight – Have a go at Crabbing – Try Angling – Learn to Dive – Follow the on-Pier digital tour – Watch the Pier story film – Follow a trail – See the remains of the old pier – Find your favourite plaque.
In the Marine Villas building, you will find a café, shop and exhibition featuring an aquarium. Here you can see original saltwater baths from the 1820’s, 100 year old finds from local shipwrecks, marine life from under the pier in the aquarium and a whole lot more!
I would not hesitate to recommend an afternoon of browsing in the shop, looking at the exhibition, strolling on the pier, finishing with a bite to eat in the superb, dog friendly, 1859 Café/Bistro.
The whole project is a credit to the Swanage Pier Trust who have enhanced the local area to another level.