Yarmouth Pier Set in Winter Shadows
Despite coming up against fierce opposition from the local boatmen, who used to ferry passengers from offshore steamers to the quay as a means of of supplementing their income, the Yarmouth Corporation was given permission to build a new pier in 1874. Designed by Denham and Jenvey primarily as a landing stage for cross-Solent steamer traffic, work commenced on the construction of Yarmouth Pier in the summer of 1875. At 685ft (207.5m) long, the timber pier was completed within a year, and was formally opened by the Mayor of Yarmouth on 19th July 1876. Several weeks later the pier was damaged, when a ship drifted into the structure after breaking loose from it's moorings, and in 1877 the pier gates were cut down by the local boatmen who were still extremely upset at the loss of their extra cash.
Once the railway infrastructure on the mainland had reached Lymington in 1884, regular connecting steamer services began operating between Lymington in Hampshire and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. In 1909 the pier again suffered collision damage when the barge `Shamrock' crashed broadside into the structure. Continual maintenance is a feature of seaside piers, and in 1916 the Yarmouth Town Trust (the successor to the Yarmouth Corporation) spent £250 on replacement piles. Development of Yarmouth Pier for pleasure purposes was never regarded as necessary, and few additional structures have ever been erected. One notable exception was the building of some offices and a waiting room at the shoreward end in 1927, at a cost of £2,000.
In 1930 a new slipway was built to facilitate the handling of all ferry traffic, leaving the pier to service only the smaller pleasure craft. After the passing of the `Yarmouth Pier and Harbour Order, 1931' the pier came under the control of the Pier and Harbour Commissioners. In 1975 the pier was given a Grade II listing from English Heritage that effectively prevented it from being demolished without the agreement of the Secretary of State. This turned out to be a fortuitous course of action as the Pier and Harbour Commissioners attempted to do exactly that in 1980. Although the pier was in a dilapidated state, permission was refused for demolition and instead a restoration campaign was launched. With the appropriate funding found, £250,000 was spent on replacing the walkway, and a further £100,000 on other general maintenance between 1983 and 1986. Sponsors' names can still be seen carved into each plank along the pier's neck. By 1991 the pier head was in a dangerous condition, and a second campaign successfully raised sufficient funds for the refurbishment of the head, and the small wooden shelter, during the winter of 1991/92.
Today Yarmouth Pier has a more secure future, and is a popular venue for both fishermen and walkers alike. The pier also continues to perform its original role and during the season often plays host to the MV Balmoral and PS Waverley