North Pier throughout the ages

Flags flew above North Pier as the heavily-clothed crowds thronged on either side of Blackpool promenade in this turn of the century view. Landaus and trams dominated and not a car - or a traffic light in sight! It's also hard to find a single person not wearing some kind of headgear.
Blackpool historical / 1905/06

Flags flew above North Pier as the heavily-clothed crowds thronged on either side of Blackpool promenade in this turn of the century view. Landaus and trams dominated and not a car - or a traffic light in sight! It's also hard to find a single person not wearing some kind of headgear. Blackpool historical / 1905/06

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This collection of archive photographs shows one of Blackpool’s most iconic attractions during the last two centuries.

The oldest and longest of the resort’s three piers, North Pier, opened in May 1863.

Residents had met in December two years earlier to discuss a new pier and work had begun on the structure – designed by Eugenius Birch – in June 1862. It cost £11,740 to build.

An official opening ceremony took place on May 21, 1863 and the local shops in the area closed for the day, with everywhere decorated with streamers.

A landing/fishing jetty was added to the pier in 1866 and extended in 1869, bringing the pier’s length to 1,410ft.

The Blackpool Pier Company used the jetty to operate pleasure steamers which made trips to the surrounding areas.

In October 1892, a storm-damaged vessel, Sirene, hit the southern end of the pier, causing part of the deck to collapse onto the beach below. The pier was damaged again in 1867, by wreckage from Nelson’s former flagship, the Foudroyant, which had been moored off the pier for an exhibition.

In the 1870s, the pier-head was enlarged and the Indian Pavilion and bandstand were built.

The pier was closed over the winter 1895-96 as it was thought to be unsafe, but reopened after electric lighting was added, and the deck widened in 1896, and shops and an arcade were added to the shoreward end in 1903.

The Indian Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1921.

A glass plate photograph, dating from 1897, shows crowds in the front of the old Indian Pavilion.

It was refurbished, but was then destroyed by a second fire in 1938.

Our archive picture captured the 1938 blaze, with thousands of members of the public watching helplessly as the structure went up in smoke.

In 1939, it was replaced by a new 1,500 seat theatre, built in an Art Deco style. Also during the 30s, the bandstand become the sun lounge.

In the 1960s, the amusements and the Merrie England bar were opened.

During the 1980s, as part of a £350,000 refurbishment, the North Pier entrance was rebuilt in Victorian style and then in 1991, a 35ft carousel and pier tramway were installed.

By the 80s, the pier had ceased to have any nautical use, but the jetty section was adapted for use as a helicopter pad.

The pier suffered further, severe storm damage on Christmas Eve 1997 – severing the jetty from the main structure, destroying the helipad and leaving the pier theatre perilously close to the edge.

The pier was sold to Blackpool businessman Peter Sedgewick in 2011.