It is always sad to see an abandoned property left to rot for so many years, especially when that property is something that should be relaxing and wholesome. A pier should be a calm, homely place where you can watch the waves and have an ice cream, but at present, Birnbeck Pier in Somerset does not look that inviting, given that it’s been closed since 1994.
This pier is the only one in the country linking mainland to an island. Construction began in 1864, and it was opened to the public in June 1867. Over time, the pier grew and grew, incorporating more attractions and amusements, but in 1897, most of it was destroyed in a great fire. The pier and its attractions were rebuilt, but in the early twentieth century, it struggled in a competition against the Grand Pier.
In 1941, it was taken over and remade as HMS Birnbeck; all the rides were removed and it became a weapons testing facility. It did revert back to its original purpose after the war, but went through many owners until the whole pier, except for the lifeboat station, was closed due to storm damage. It is currently on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk register. A full history of the pier can be found on this page.
At the moment, however, it is being bought up by CNM Estates, who plan and develop many properties from hotels to student housing. CNM are currently attempting to come up with a solution on how to develop the pier, and they intend to build hotels and homes in the area. The North Somerset Council, however, have expressed doubts over the capability of CNM, saying that they are still owed thousands in demolition costs.
There have been several attempts to revive the pier over the years but they have not been met with success. The Friends of the Old Pier Society, formed in 1996, has been pushing for a renovation of the area. Urban Splash bought the pier in 2006 until CNM bought it from them.