As children we went to the east coast to visit the seaside; days out along the Norfolk coast, Snettisham was a favourite and my sister and I always called it Snetchibum which obviously we found hilarious! For the last week of the holidays, which was usually the first week in September we would go to a holiday camp – if you have ever watched ‘Hi-Di-Hi’ you will have an idea of what the Constitutional Holiday Camp at Hopton near Yarmouth was like.
I can never remember being taken on a pier, but now we live near Weston-super-Mare where there are two piers, albeit that one is gradually falling into the sea, being let rot by its negligent owner. The Grand Pier which is a splendid and very popular tourist attraction was opened a year after they started to build it, in 1904. it has caught fire twice, the most recent time in 2008. The other, older pier is a grade II listed building; it is the only pier in the country connecting an island to the mainland, and it was built in 1867 and it is an utter disgrace that is being allowed to fall to pieces and disappear into the sea.
Visiting Brighton last week, we went on the pier there; The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier was opened in 1899 having taken eight years to build. It is not the oldest pier in Brighton however, The West Pier was opened in 1866 and closed in 1975, and is now a skeletal ruin, out at sea. neither of these piers is the oldest, the 1822 chain pier was originally constructed to meet ships coming from France, and local entrepreneurs soon started selling refreshments and souvenirs, along with fortune tellers and the popular silhouette artiste.
Along with all the holiday makers, we strolled along the pier, all 1772 feet of it, and having just had dinner we weren’t tempted by the ice-cream, hot-dogs and every other sort of take-away-and-walk-eating food you could imagine. There is a concert hall, and a massive fun fair at the end. I remember going on some exciting rides at a fairground at a different holiday camp we went to, but the thought of it now makes my stomach churn just the thought of it!