Bognor Regis Pier, West Sussex

Built by the Bognor Promenade Company, this pier took some 18 months to complete and was opened on the 4th May 1865. Unlike the majority of piers, the Bognor Regis promenade pier was a private undertaking constructed with the help of local labour, at the cost of £5,000. Purchased by the local council in 1876 for the sum of £1200, a small bandstand was added but no further development took place at this time. Some 35 years after initial construction the first pavilion was built at the seaward end, opening on 9th July 1900. In the following year a landing stage was added to allow paddle steamers carrying day-trippers to dock at the head. By 1906 this had become redundant as the larger more modern vessels found the docking facility inadequate. Due to rising maintenance costs the Council made a decision to sell Bognor Pier in 1908, and it was bought by the Bognor Pier Company for the conditional sum of 10 shillings (50p).

After major restoration the pier pavilion re-opened on 7th April 1909, just in time for the Easter Bank Holiday. During 1911-1912 the shoreward end was extended to a width of 80ft (24.2m), allowing space for a new arcade development containing 12 shops, a cinema, a roof garden restaurant and a 1,400 seat theatre. Diving displays had become very popular at seaside resorts in the 1930s, and Bognor Regis saw its fair share. Throughout the season, weather permitting, displays were given twice a day. In 1936 a new 109ft (33m) three-tier landing stage was built, the highest level used for steamers and the two lower tiers for motorboats and speedboats. During the Second World War Bognor Regis Pier was renamed HMS Patricia and was used as a Royal Navy observation station.

The severe storms of 1964-1965 eventually caused the seaward end structure to collapse, causing the loss of the pavilion. In 1966 Bognor Pier was sold to the American Novelty Company but was forced to close once again in December 1974 after two fires in as many months. Despite being given a Grade II listing by English Heritage on 27th April 1989, the condition of the pier continued to decline, and by 1994 an application was made to demolish the remaining seaward structure. When Bognor Pier Leisure Limited became responsible for the pier in 1996, an application was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the £2,000,000 needed to restore it. Unfortunately this application was rejected, now leaving the derelict seaward end at great risk.

A rather bizarre event that has taken place annually since 1978 is the Birdman Rally. These crazy stunts, where contestants attempt to fly from the neck of the pier by the use of home made devices, have made Bognor Regis Pier famous. Since 1998 Ron Freeman has won the event five years in succession, his attempt in 2003 taking him a distance of some 270ft (82m).

Boxgrove Priory
Also in the area...
PrioryBoxgrove Priory
read more about this location
The London Pass – find out more here