Ryde Pier


Ryde Pier

Infobox_Pier
Pier_name=Ryde Pier



caption=Ryde Pier seen from the pier head, showing the well-known twin spires of Ryde.
official_name=Ryde Pier
carries=Cars and Island Line trains
crosses=The Solent
locale= Ryde, Isle of Wight
type=Working pier with landing stages and railway
maint=
id=
design=John Kent of Southampton
construction=
owner=Wightlink
mainspan=
length=681m
width=
clearance=
below=
traffic=
open=26th July 1814
closed=
toll=
map_cue=
map_

map_text=
map_width=
coordinates=
lat=
long=

Ryde Pier is an early 19th century pier serving the town of Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England.

Before the pier was built, passengers to Ryde had the uncomfortable experience of coming ashore on the back of a porter and then, depending on the state of the tide, having to walk as far as half a mile across wet sand before reaching the town. The need for a pier was obvious, especially if the town was to attract the wealthy and fashionable visitors who were beginning to patronise other seaside resorts across England.

Designed by John Kent of Southampton, the foundation stone of Ryde Pier was laid on 29th June 1813. The completed pier opened on 26th July 1814, and was, as it still is, a timber-planked promenade. The structure was originally wholly timber, and measured 527m. By 1833, extensions took the overall length to 681m. A second 'tramway' pier was built next to the first pier, opening on 29th August 1864. Horse-drawn trams took passengers from the pier head to the esplanade. Later, the trams were powered by electric winches.

On 12th July 1880 a third pier was opened, alongside the first two, providing a direct steam railway link to the pier-head. In 1895 a concert pavilion was constructed at the pier-head and over the next sixteen years the original wooden piles were replaced in cast iron. It was at Ryde Pier that the Empress Eugénie landed from Sir John Burgoyne's yacht "The Gazelle" after her flight from Paris in 1870.

The pier head was remodeled in the 1930s using concrete, and during the Second World War the pier was used for military purposes, with various modifications made to accommodate this.

The tramway pier closed in 1969 and was partially dismantled. This left a gap which still exists between the railway and promenade piers, in which the rotting iron piles of the tramway pier are very plainly visible. The pier was made a Grade II listed building in 1976. In the early 1980s a modern waiting area, including some of the original buildings, replaced the original Victorian waiting rooms at the pier-head.

Today the pier is still a major gateway for passenger traffic to and from the Isle of Wight, with the Island Line train running from Ryde Pier Head station (at the pier head), via Ryde Esplanade down to the eastern side of the island. The Wightlink catamaran runs regularly between Ryde and Portsmouth. Unusually, it is possible to drive down the pier, and there is car parking on the large pier head.


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