Blackpool Central Pier
John Isaac Mawson
1867 - 1868
Pier, seaside |
ICE reference number
photo Paul Dunkerley
Blackpool’s second pier (North Pier was the first) is notable for its unusual wrought iron bowed plate longitudinal girders with their circular spandrel columns.
This pier was built by Richard Laidlaw & Son for South Blackpool Jetty Company to the designs of Lieutenant-Colonel Mawson.
Originally with simple kiosks in pairs, the pier was in competition with the more illustrious North Pier, which attracted wealthier visitors staying on Blackpool’s North Shore. Alfresco dancing and roller skating was then introduced, making South Jetty (as it was then called) popular with poorer visitors who stayed in central Blackpool, gaining the nickname ‘The People’s Pier’.
The 1,118ft long pier is founded on cast iron screwed piles with vertical circular cast iron columns in rows at 60ft centres, braced horizontally with angles and diagonally with wrought iron tie bars. The main longitudinal girders are the unusual girders described on the first page.
The deck was later widened and conventional wrought iron lattice fascia girders added. The deck construction has longitudinal and transverse 'I' section beams, longitudinal timber joists, then transverse boards fixed in groups with spaces between for drainage.
Originally the pier had a 400ft jetty constructed using 50ft greenheart timbers on cast iron screw piles. This was demolished in 1975, with some considerable difficulty, using explosives. Another low-water jetty was built in 1891-4 and demolished in 1928.
The pier entrance was altered and improved in 1877, in 1903, and again in 1966.
The dance floor and roller-skating rink were added at the wide pierhead in the 1880s, and similar deck widening was added midway along the neck in the 1890s. This was later protected by a windscreen, which was replaced by a pavilion that burnt down in 1964.
A new theatre and the ‘Dixieland Palace’ entertainments complex were opened at the entrance in 1968 but destroyed by fire in 1973, then rebuilt.
The present-day 'Big Wheel' was built on the central widened section in 1990.
Contractor: Richard Laidlow & Son