New book considers the past and future of UK’s piers

New book considers the past and future of UK piers
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Anthony Poulton-Smith’s new title British Piers and Pier Railways offers an overview of the history and development of Britain’s piers and pier railways.


A new book has recently been published which provides an in-depth look at the history and development of piers and pier railways around the country.

Written by Anthony Poulton- Smith, British Piers and Pier Railways gives a clockwise tour, beginning and ending on the east coast at the border of England and Scotland.

The publication provides an overview of the complete history of piers, covering planning, funding, design, building, railways, ships, modifications, problems and solutions. However, a key emphasis is the people who ran and worked on them.

“Within these pages the reader will meet a prize fighter who achieved fame in a very different sport; learn of several ‘professors’ whose talents were solely being able to leap from the pier; discover why man would ever want to fly from a pier; meet the former Beatle who worked for a pier company; read about the ferries and steamers that carried visitors; the fires which are an ever-present danger; the men who designed and built the piers along with the entertainers, characters, enthusiasts and entrepreneurs who made the piers,” explained a spokesman for the book’s publisher Whittles Publishing. “Fascinating information is included on how piers became longer or shorter, which piers served as part of the Royal Navy during two World Wars, and the tremendous amount of work and effort it takes to keep the piers open to the public today.”

“Several piers have embedded rails, with some still being used by trains or trams. These pier railways are described in detail: the engineering, the designs and the changes over the years. While electricity is the sole motive power today, these had once been either steam-driven, pulled by horses, moved by hand or even, in one example, wind-powered by a sail!

“With over one hundred photographs, both old and new, this is a tour of the coast of the mainland and two islands. Piers which sadly have not survived are included as well as those which never got off the ground (or the shoreline). It reveals why they were built, how they were repurposed over the years, and their role in the future,” the spokesman added.

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