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Saltburn Pier
Saltburn-by-the-sea, North Yorkshire, UK
Saltburn Pier
associated engineer
John Anderson
date  December 1868 - May 1869
era  Victorian  |  category  Pier, seaside  |  reference  NZ665218
photo  Jane Joyce
The first iron pier to be built on the north-east coast of Britain, and the only one surviving in Yorkshire. Saltburn Pier runs out into the North Sea. It has survived much storm damage and at least one ship collision. Once threatened with demolition, the Grade II* listed pier was rebuilt.
With the railways making travel easier and quicker, increasing numbers of Victorian-era travellors and holidaymakers wanted to go to the coast. The Stockton & Darlington Railway reached Saltburn from Redcar in August 1861, and the station building opened the following year.
One of the contractors for the railway, John Anderson, was also resident engineer for the Saltburn Improvement Company and owned land in the town. In October 1867, he formed the Saltburn Pier Company, acting as both engineer and contractor for the pier's construction.
The structure's cast iron piles support cast iron trestles cross-braced with wrought iron ties and a timber deck. Originally 457m long, the pier featured a steamboat landing stage at the pier head and two circular kiosks at the (toll) entrance.
The first pile was driven on 30th December 1867 and the pier opened to the public in May 1869. It proved popular, despite its north-facing location on an exposed coast. In 1873, a saloon was constructed on the pierhead and gas lighting was installed along the full length of the deck.
In October 1875, stormy weather destroyed the seaward 91m of the pier. After repairs it re-opened in 1877, with its length reduced to 381m. The Saltburn Pier Company suffered heavy debts as a result and ceased trading in December 1879. In 1880, the pier and Anderson's adjacent cliff lift (built 1870) were sold at auction for £800 — to the Saltburn Improvement Company. The cliff lift would be replaced by the funicular railway that is still in use on the foreshore.
In 1884, the seaward end of the pier was widened, and windshields and a bandstand installed. Two new entrance booths were constructed, with timber frames and pitched slate roofs. The kiosks remained in use, one as a café and the other as public conveniences. On 20th July 1887, electric lighting was connected in place of the gas lights.
In 1900, the pier sustained more storm damage. At some time in the early 20th century the entrance was remodelled, and the two booths linked by a new central timber-frame building to make the present structure, which has three pitched roofs.
In May 1924, the steam ship Ovenbeg crashed through the west side of the pier, creating a 64m gap. The landward end of the pier was used until 1930, when the structure was repaired and the whole pier re-opened.
The local council purchased the pier in 1938. In 1940, it was cut into sections to prevent it being used for invasion during World War II (1939-45).
The pier received no maintenance until much-needed restoration work began in May 1951. The official re-opening was 31st May 1952. The next year, gales caused further damage and repairs were not completed until 1958. Storms battered the iron piles in 1959 and 1961.
The substructure deteriorated in the 1970s and the pier closed in December 1973. Piles were lost in 1971, 1973 and 1974. On 29th October 1974, the pier head was washed away in a storm, reducing its overall length to 335m.
Following a public enquiry, 13 trestles were removed from the end of the pier and the remaining 208m was refurbished. On 29th June 1978, the pier re-opened and in 1979 the cladding of the entrance building was renewed. In 1993, its slate roofs were restored.
By 1996, the pier was again in need of restoration. Heritage Lottery funding helped to finance the £1.8m rebuild, which began in May 2000 and continued until the official re-opening on 13th July 2001. Work included conservation and reconstruction of cast iron trestles, reinstatement of the hardwood deck, and replacement of 20th century steel beams. In 2005, Redcar Borough Council installed a new lighting system costing £385,000.
Ironwork: Chochrane & Grove, Ormesby
Research: ECPK

Saltburn Pier