Clevedon’s popularity began in the Victorian era, becoming a popular seaside town developing from what was an agricultural village. The coming of the railway was the key to it’s prosperity when the branch line was built from Yatton to Clevedon. Yatton was on the main Bristol to Exeter line therefore linking Clevedon with the rest of the country. In the 1950’s many seaside resorts started to build piers to attract tourists and in 1866 the Clevedon Pier Company was formed. The history of the Clevedon Pier was quite a chequered one and was the subject of the Group’s February meeting given in a very interesting presentation by Abbie Edbrooke, Heritage and Outreach Officer, for Clevedon Pier.
Prior to the building of the pier a shallow draft boat was used to ferry passengers to the steamers waiting off shore.
It took 60 men 18 months to build the pier at a cost of £10,000 and on Easter Monday 1869 the pier was opened to the public. The pier is 312m (1,024ft) long and 15m (48ft) above high water.
It was an instant success especially with the P & A Campbell steamers now easily boarded at the pier head. However it was not to last as between 1886 to 1890 financial difficulties meant that the pier passed into public hands.
In 1893 the pier head was replaced in cast iron with a new timber landing stage and with the pier head pavilion completed in 1894.
On the 16th October 1970 two of the spans closest to the pier head collapsed during a weight test being carried out for insurance purposes. The pier came close to being demolished but in 1972 the Clevedon Pier Preservation Society was formed and set about raising funds for it’s restoration. In 1984 finance was obtained from English Heritage and the National Heritage Memorial Fund and so work was commenced. The pavilions from the pier head were brought ashore and the pier structure was dismantled and taken to Portishead Dock for restoration. It was reconstructed in 1986 and reopened in 1989. So again the elegant structure, once described by Sir John Betjeman as ‘the most beautiful pier in England’ reaches out into the Severn estuary. Now with it’s new visitor centre and art gallery it is the jewel in Clevedon’s crown and once again proving popular with tourists.
The next meeting is scheduled to be in the Village Hall in Venus Lane
on Tuesday 14th April at 8pm. The speaker on this occasion will be
Gina Merrett-Smith and her presentation is entitled ‘An Actor’s Voice for me -
a History of Theatre and Screen Actors’. Visitors are always welcome with
entrance at £3 which includes refreshments. For
more information of any of the above please telephone 01761 471 533.
Under the present circumstances regarding the Coronavirus restrictions the meeting will be subject to cancellation. Please phone the number above for the latest update nearer the date