Pier celebrates 150 years

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THERE is cause for celebration in Worthing.

This year is the 150th anniversary of the first pier in the town. The structure was first opened to the public on April 12, 1862.

Chris Hare, historian and author of Worthing: A History, said: “Worthing is extremely lucky to have a pier which is still fully functional and maintained to such a high standard.

“Other piers along the south coast have gone to ruin.

“I would say the pier is Worthing’s greatest asset.”

Designed by Sir Robert Rawlingson, the first pier was a simple boardwalk out into the sea.

The pier was later updated to mark Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, in 1887, and started to take the shape of the pier of today.

A pavilion was erected at the southern end of the pier, along with a landing platform, where paddle steamers – such as the famous Worthing Belle – used to dock.

However, the pier has had something of a turbulent history – being battered and severely damaged by storms in 1913 and falling victim to a fire in 1933, which destroyed the south pavilion.

During the Second World War, a hole was also blown in the middle of the decking to hinder any enemy invasion.

After being repaired by Worthing Borough Council, the pier reopened in 1949 as the 950ft-long structure it is today.

Chris said: “It is down to the multiple refurbishments that we still have a pier today.

“Many people may take the pier for granted, but it is something that should be celebrated and treasured.”

Worthing Borough Council has said preparations are underway to celebrate the pier’s landmark anniversary,

A council spokesperson said: “We are currently planning a party on the pier for April 12, to coincide with the first opening of the pier.

“There are no concrete arrangements as yet, so watch this space.”