Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Ryde Pier

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of Ryde, Isle of Wight

1813 The pier was designed by John Kent of Southampton, and its foundation stone laid on 29 June. The pier opened on 26 July 1814, with, as it still has, a timber-planked promenade. The structure was originally wholly timber and measured 576 yards (527 m).

By 1833, extensions took the overall length to 745 yards (681 m). It is this pre-Victorian structure that has, with some modifications, carried pedestrians and vehicles ever since.

A second 'tramway' pier was built next to the first, opening on 29 August 1864. Horse-drawn trams took passengers from the pier head to the esplanade. Before construction of the railway pier, the tramway continued to Ryde railway station at St John's Road.

1869 The pier was extended to secure a ladies' bathing place. [1]

From 1886 to 1927 the trams were powered by electricity from a third rail, and from then until 1969 were petrol-powered.

On 12 July 1880, a third pier was opened, alongside the first two, providing a direct steam railway link to the pier-head. The railway was part of the Portsmouth and Ryde Joint Railway (a company owned jointly by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and London and South Western Railway), as far as Ryde St John's Road, to connect with their ship services to Portsmouth. However, trains were run by the independent Isle of Wight Railway and Isle of Wight Central Railway, who owned the tracks beyond St John's Road and operated services to Ventnor and Cowes via Newport respectively.

In 1895 a concert pavilion was constructed at the pier-head, and over the next sixteen years, the original wooden piles were replaced with cast iron. It was at Ryde Pier that the Empress Eugenie landed from Sir John Burgoyne's yacht "The Gazelle", after her flight from Paris in 1870.

The pier head was remodelled in the 1930s using concrete, and during the Second World War was used for military purposes, after various modifications.

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