Times past: Westward Ho!’s folly - the seven year pier
- Credit: Archant
In 1864 the Northam Burrows Promenade and Landing Pier Company was set up to raise funds to build a pier at the new resort development of Westward Ho!
The company’s plans called for a 600 foot long promenade which would feature a cafe and bandstand at the pierhead. The company chairman was J Pine-Coffin and the two principal shareholders were Captain Molesworth and Colonel Wheeler.
After obtaining an Act of Parliament and raising sufficient funds the company signed a contract with a Mr Gooch in February 1870 to build their pier. He had experience in this field as he had previously helped build Bognor pier.
Construction began but progress was slow and in October 1871 a huge storm inflicted severe damage on the unfinished structure.
Indeed only 150 foot of the pier was left standing and the cost of the damage was put at £1,300.
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Gooch’s contract was cancelled and W & J Abbott of Bideford were appointed as builders. At the same time the design length of the pier was shortened. Construction recommenced and the new structure was opened for business in July 1873.
Unfortunately at the pier company’s AGM in February 1874 it was reported that only 80 of the 150 shares had been sold and some £5,141 was owed to creditors. In order to settle these debts the pier was sold to the developers behind Westward Ho! at, apparently, a knock down price.
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Over the next few years the pier’s income was steady if not spectacular with special events such as a ‘Monster Picnic’ on the structure for 1,000 people bringing in more money.
Sadly, another huge storm hit the area in February 1880 once again damaging the pier badly. Just three months later the owners began dismantling the remains of the pier it having ‘become dangerous as well as unsightly.’
Today a few corroded stumps can be seen at low tide – the sad remnants of a once proud Victorian amusement.