Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea, I do like to stroll upon the prom, prom, prom…or in the case, Clevedon pier.
Have I got you singing along? Ready for a cheerful, seaside themed post? I do like to be beside the seaside, especially in a pretty coastal town like Clevedon with its very pleasant promenade.
Remains of an Iron Age hill fort nearby and a mention in the 1086 Domesday Book confirm that Clevedon has a long history, but it was in the Victorian times that this place really blossomed. Think bathing machines, Punch & Judy and promenading in the sea air.
All of those are things of the past now, but traces of Victorian Clevedon remain. A walk along the modern promenade gives lovely views across the water to Wales, but also a glimpse of Clevedon past.
A beautifully maintained vintage bandstand here, traces of ornamental gardens there.
The Victorians had clear ideas on what made a good seaside resort, and they stuck to it. One thing that the Victorians liked to see beside the sea was a good pier. Clevedon didn’t have one and so- long story short- one was built.
A buoy was thrown into the water to mark the spot, companies were engaged for construction and materials sourced. The original wooden supports for the pier were actually railway timbers from a nearby route that didn’t come to be. A section of one of the originals is on display in the pier museum.
Admission to the pier gains you access to the pier itself, the museum and to the Porthole Room. From here you can view the pier from below, even when the tide rolls in. It’s a sharp contrast to the pretty pier above.
Following a gala opening, the pier served its purpose for many years. It was a landing point for steamer ships. In the 1930’s, embarkation place for day trips and pleasure cruises up the coast and across to Wales.
The opening of the Severn Rail tunnel meant less passengers used the pier as necessity, so those in charge reimagined the place for pleasure. A covered dancehall was added at the pier head and later, a juke box installed. For a while the pier was the place to be, to hear all the latest rock and roll hits.
Eventually, the pier fell from popularity and into disrepair. In 1970, it began to collapse. The logical solution was to demolish what remained of the pier, given the amount of effort and funding it would take to restore it.
But local people weren’t so willing to let the pier go. It took a group of dedicated supporters, a lot of money and a legal battle but the pier was saved. Restored. It’s not just about saving heritage, fabulous as that is.
Clevedon Pier is a local landmark and a tourist attraction. It was the pier that drew me to Clevedon, and now I’m enjoying getting to know the town.
Not just for visitors though; there’s a lot goes on here for Clevedon residents. The local Sea Angling Club fishes from here, there are yoga sessions and foodie events.
It’s a lovely place to walk, out to sea and back again. There’s a pretty cafe in the pagoda at the sea end. The lady working there was very cheerful. With that view from the office, who wouldn’t be?
The pier is dressed beautifully by the team of staff and volunteers who care for it, with bunting and pretty planters. A thing of beauty to explore, it’s also a keeper of stories. Thousands of brass plaques acknowledge special occasions and speak of a real fondness for the old place.
This was my favourite. In memory of Ted and Molly who honeymooned in Clevedon in 1940. I’ve fallen a bit in love with the Ted and Molly of my imagination, I’ve already mentally written their love story and imagined all Molly’s lovely 1940’s outfits. Molly was a beauty and Ted a real gent. In my mind, they have a happy-ever-after. I hope real life was equally as kind to them.
Clevedon Pier is dog friendly (The Pagoda Cafe even sells Scoops doggy ice cream) and open seven days a week. Find all details on the Clevedon Pier Web page.