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Central Pier

Central Pier, Blackpool (Feb. 2006)
Official name Central Pier
Type Pleasure Pier
Design John Isaac Mawson
Construction Blackpool South Jetty Company
Total length 339 metres (1,110 ft)
Opening date 30 May 1868
Coordinates 53°48′39″N 3°03′30″W / 53.8109°N 3.0583°W / 53.8109; -3.0583Coordinates: 53°48′39″N 3°03′30″W / 53.8109°N 3.0583°W / 53.8109; -3.0583

Central Pier is one of three piers in the town of Blackpool, England.

Contents

Location

The pier is central in the sense that it is located between the other two, but it is also close to the site of the now-defunct Blackpool Central railway station about 500 metres south of Blackpool Tower. Since the coastline is very straight and flat, the pier simply extends at right angles to the sea front, roughly level with the promenade.

History

The success of the North Pier prompted the formation of the Blackpool South Jetty Company one year later in 1864 (the pier now known as South Pier was some 30 years in the future at this point). Impressed with the construction of the existing pier, the Company hired the same contractor, Richard Laidlaw and Son of Glasgow for the new project. This time, however, they were following the designs of Lieutenant-Colonel John Isaac Mawson rather than those of Eugenius Birch. When the new pier was opened on 30 May 1868, it was 460 metres in length, 120 metres of which was a landing jetty for use at low tide. The original manager of the pier was Robert Bickerstaffe, coxswain of the first Blackpool lifeboat. Blackpool's lifeboat station is still located next to Central Pier.

From the start, the new pier's emphasis was to be on fun rather than genteel relaxation as with North Pier. In the early days, the fun was provided mainly by dancing facilities, but with the 20th Century came roller skating, rides and amusement machines. Also, steamboat excursions departed from the landing jetty as they did from North Pier. The dance halls became less popular after the Second World War, however, and so the facilities were gradually adapted to theatres, bars and amusement arcades toward the 1970s.

The pierhead theatre was modernised in 1986 and eventually came to be known as "Peggy Sue's Showboat". A striking addition came in 1990 when a 33 metre high Ferris wheel was erected, a half-scale reference to the Victorian attraction that had been part of the Winter Gardens complex a century earlier.

Construction and adaptation

Central Pier is constructed mostly of cast iron with wooden decking. The piles on which the structure rests were driven using the screw pile method pioneered by Eugenius Birch. This involved twisting screw-tipped cast iron piles downward through the sand until they hit bedrock. The materials and building techniques were thus similar to those used for North Pier but the structure of Central is a little more delicate in appearance.

The pier has suffered relatively little damage save for two fires in 1964 and 1973 which gutted the theatre buildings. The main structural alterations have been the removal of the obsolete 120-metre low tide jetty in 1975 and the construction of the Ferris wheel in 1990. The addition of the wheel required the mid-section of the pier to be strengthened somewhat to cope with the extra weight.

Attractions

  • Trevor Chance's Legends
  • Central Pier fair
  • The Wheel
  • Central Pier Family Bar
  • Peter Sedgewicks Funfair
  • Central Pier Family Entertainment Centre
  • Old Tyme Portrait Studio

External links

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