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Birnbeck Pier
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Birnbeck Pier
associated engineer
Eugenius Birch
date  1867
era  Victorian  |  category  Pier, seaside  |  reference  ST305625
ICE reference number  HEW 434
photo  Paul Dunkerley
A unique pier that incorporates an island as the base for its pierhead, at which point the deck splits into two parts. The buildings on the pierhead include permanent living quarters.
An abortive attempt was made in 1847 to the link the island, also called Birnbeck, to the mainland with a suspension bridge. Birch's pier dates from 20 years later.
It has an overall length of 1,400ft plus the island. It cost 20,000 to build and attracted 120,000 visitors in its first three months.
The pier's main neck is 1,150ft long and 20ft wide. It consists of 15 clusters of 8 cast iron columns in two rows of four, raking both ways and braced by wrought iron tie rods and girders. These support wrought iron lattice girders and a timber deck with handrailing.
The deck has small projecting bays at intervals, complete with ornamental lamps and seating. One has a shelter.
There is a 250ft long landing section beyond the island that dates from 1872, originally built in timber but now replaced by girders, set on iron piles. This section replaced an earlier 99ft long concrete jetty.
At the island, the visitor will find an 1889 lifeboat station and cottages for the Coxwain and Commodore. The main island buildings were rebuilt after a fire in 1897 and comprise amusements, bars, a restaurant and a museum. Fine ironwork the unique island give this pier considerable individuality. It is Grade 2* listed.
The fairground-style amusements were abandoned in the 1930s due to stiff competition from nearby Grand Pier. Steamer services ceased in 1970 and the pier closed in 1994. As of 2003, it was in perilous condition and on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk register.
Main contractor: Isca Iron Company, Newport
Research: PD
reference sources   SPSurv

Birnbeck Pier