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The Birnbeck Pier
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530 58 2023-11-2
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DAFlys
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The history of Birnbeck Island, and its pier, is a long and turbulent one: initial success, followed by years of decline and plenty of bad luck, big ideas and little money. Originally connected to the mainland by a narrow spit of land, subsequently eroded by the sea, earliest records of Birnbeck show that John Pigott of Brockley became Lord of the Manor of Weston-super-Mare and the owner of the island in 1696, when it was still known as Berne Island (later Bairn Beck Island).

In 1845, and with Weston's popularity growing, a committee was formed to promote the need for a pier and landing place at Birnbeck, with work starting the following year on a suspension bridge out to the island. However, this proved problematic with strikes and bad weather forcing the project's engineer into bankruptcy and the project to be abandoned.

Following a successful campaign to raise £20,000 in 1864, a foundation stone for a new pier was finally laid, with a bridge completed two years' later. The pier was opened on 5th June 1867 - a date declared as a public holiday in the town - to the sound of church bells, cannon salutes and fireworks. Initially, there was very little in the way of amusements on the island, although there was a small pavilion, but despite this, 120,000 people visited during the first three months. Thanks to the income from regular steamer traffic, particularly from Wales, improvements followed over the next 22 years, including refreshment rooms, a large concert hall, reading rooms, an extended pavilion, low-water jetty and lifeboat station. However, on Boxing Day 1897, most of the structures on the island were destroyed by fire - replacements were designed by Hans Price, who was responsible for many of Weston's most notable buildings, and these were completed just eight months' later.


The pier's fortunes started to fluctuate. In 1904 - and despite a vigorous campaign against the parliamentary bill allowing the construction of a new pier - the, more central, Grand Pier opened for business. Five years' later, the southern end of the island was increased by over half an acre, by the construction of a concrete platform. This new area housed a roller-skating rink, a bioscope theatre (an early form of cinema), a flying machine, switchback railway and the famous water chute ride. This effort to attract customers from its newer rival was successful and throughout the 1920s and early-30s, the Old Pier was the Number One destination for both visitors and residents alike. However, the Grand Pier fought back by opening a funfair of its own, a decision from which Birnbeck never recovered.

World War II wasn't kind to Birnbeck, either. In 1941, the pier was taken over by the Admiralty and closed to the public - with the fairground and all amusement rides dismantled and removed - before being commissioned as HMS Birnbeck, a secret facility for weapons testing. Serious damage was caused to the island when a Wellington Bomber, operating out of nearby RAF Locking, inadvertently released a dummy mine whilst flying overhead. When hostilities were over, the pier was handed back to its rightful owners and, whilst the steamer service was resumed, Birnbeck became a much more sedate place, with just a refreshment room and no amusements (apart from a weekly visit from the British Legion Band!).

The pier then passed through several owners' hands, including (1962)P&A Campbell (the steamer-operating company), (1972) John Critchley (under whom the pier enjoyed a short-lived renaissance), (1989) Philip Stubbs (whose plans for a multi-million pound marina complex were halted by the Nature Conservation Council), (1998) White Horse Ferries (who restored Pier View, formerly the offices of P&A Campbell and Muffins Café, and now the home of the Friends of the Old Pier Society) and (2006) Urban Splash (who held an international architectural competition, the winner of which included a mixed-use redevelopment, featuring a hotel, leisure and residential accommodation).







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2023-11-2
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DAFlys
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DowntownRDB
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Great shot DA.    Very interesting background story.  
2023-11-2
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DowntownRDB Posted at 11-2 02:26
Great shot DA.    Very interesting background story.

Thanks DT.  It’s the sort of image you need to see big.  
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Blériot53
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Great shot of the lifeboat ramp, and detailed historical background.  Nice job.
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DAFlys
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-2 02:36
Great shot of the lifeboat ramp, and detailed historical background.  Nice job.

One of those shots where you’re in negative numbers in the altitude and I kept checking where the sea was to avoid a dunking.  
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 02:35
Thanks DT.  It’s the sort of image you need to see big.

Is it safe to assume that you shot that a low tide?  Also, you seemed to have the drone really low to get the shot.  Like almost touching the water low.  
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DowntownRDB Posted at 11-2 02:58
Is it safe to assume that you shot that a low tide?  Also, you seemed to have the drone really low to get the shot.  Like almost touching the water low.

It felt very low at the time.  And if goofed the tide times so it was low tide.
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 03:03
It felt very low at the time.  And if goofed the tide times so it was low tide.

In looking at the shot it definitely looks like you were just skimming the top of the water to get the shot with that perspective.  
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 02:51
One of those shots where you’re in negative numbers in the altitude and I kept checking where the sea was to avoid a dunking.

One of the skills we develop as we go.  Not easy
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-2 03:15
One of the skills we develop as we go.  Not easy

Luckily you can fly from a platform on the cliff face there so you do get a good view.
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 03:43
Luckily you can fly from a platform on the cliff face there so you do get a good view.

I saw on Google Maps that there's a viewing platform
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-2 03:51
I saw on Google Maps that there's a viewing platform

It was a good spot to fly from and it's free parking there,  either in the carpark or on the road,  so theres options.
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Blériot53
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 04:10
It was a good spot to fly from and it's free parking there,  either in the carpark or on the road,  so theres options.

Rare to find free parking anywhere these days.
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-2 04:37
Rare to find free parking anywhere these days.

When I was looking where to park, it looked the car park had pay and display machines so Id planned to park on the road,  but when we got there they had been removed, so we parked it the carpark and had a little picnic   
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Nicely Done.
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 04:41
When I was looking where to park, it looked the car park had pay and display machines so Id planned to park on the road,  but when we got there they had been removed, so we parked it the carpark and had a little picnic

Double benefit
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cheers BetterBizTech.   
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Weve taken a picnic on all our trips this last few months and it's been very successful.  
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 05:52
Weve taken a picnic on all our trips this last few months and it's been very successful.

We do that occasionally on the nicer days (even when taking the bus). But we more often stop off at a café or pub/restaurant.
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-2 06:16
We do that occasionally on the nicer days (even when taking the bus). But we more often stop off at a café or pub/restaurant.

This was just for the trip there,  when we out and about we usually find a little restaurant or pasty shop.    I do like the pasties down there.  
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 06:18
This was just for the trip there,  when we out and about we usually find a little restaurant or pasty shop.    I do like the pasties down there.

Well Cornwall is the traditional home of the Pastie, although other variants such as the Bedfordshire Clanger or the Trowley Dumpling would rival it.
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-2 06:27
Well Cornwall is the traditional home of the Pastie, although other variants such as the Bedfordshire Clanger or the Trowley Dumpling would rival it.

And they seem to be good at making then en mass so theres always a fresh one waiting,     I may have enjoyed one too many whist there.  
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 06:39
And they seem to be good at making then en mass so theres always a fresh one waiting,     I may have enjoyed one too many whist there.

Hence the new Apple watch challenge to redress the balance
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-2 06:46
Hence the new Apple watch challenge to redress the balance

Yes,   I have to do 14 x 10.8mile walks.    2 days complete so far.
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DAFlys Posted at 11-2 06:49
Yes,   I have to do 14 x 10.8mile walks.    2 days complete so far.

That's probably equivalent to about ten pastie's worth of calories
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Cool framing and colors.
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DA' Really nice shot there and the historical perspective is always much appreciated. That could be a profitable spot for either the current plans or returning it as a amusement park again.
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-2 06:58
That's probably equivalent to about ten pastie's worth of calories

It's a good job theres nowhere local that sells pasties as good as those as Id probably divert my walks past their shop.
2023-11-3
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Depp Posted at 11-2 08:48
Cool framing and colors.

thank you Depp.   
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Cacike47 Posted at 11-2 11:57
DA' Really nice shot there and the historical perspective is always much appreciated. That could be a profitable spot for either the current plans or returning it as a amusement park again.

This place has since built a couple of new piers that seemed very busy so I think you could be right.
2023-11-3
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DAFlys Posted at 11-3 02:47
It's a good job theres nowhere local that sells pasties as good as those as Id probably divert my walks past their shop.

It would be quite a diversion
Early coffee stop this morning.  Booked Xmas lunch for next month.
Gastro pub near Chapel-en-le Frith.
Couple of Geocaches but no droning ( more rain)
2023-11-3
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-3 02:52
It would be quite a diversion
Early coffee stop this morning.  Booked Xmas lunch for next month.
Gastro pub near Chapel-en-le Frith.

Dawn flight,  then all the shopping done and as a reward I went and chased a few boats.    Still windy but the rain did clear off the forecast.  
2023-11-3
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DAFlys Posted at 11-3 02:56
Dawn flight,  then all the shopping done and as a reward I went and chased a few boats.    Still windy but the rain did clear off the forecast.

Surprisingly calm here, with just a little rain at times. Younger daughter is visiting soon.
2023-11-3
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-3 04:10
Surprisingly calm here, with just a little rain at times. Younger daughter is visiting soon.

I got out for a walk but the wind was pretty strong,  although I did a brief flight up at the castle as Iliked how the light was shining,  then on the way back stopped and sat for a bit whilst the p3 did some clouds.  
2023-11-3
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DAFlys Posted at 11-3 23:17
I got out for a walk but the wind was pretty strong,  although I did a brief flight up at the castle as Iliked how the light was shining,  then on the way back stopped and sat for a bit whilst the p3 did some clouds.

I too like doing timelapses, they give me time to rest
2023-11-4
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-4 00:13
I too like doing timelapses, they give me time to rest

I hurt my gum the other night and its been causing me some issues since so I welcomed a little break.
2023-11-4
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DAFlys Posted at 11-4 01:28
I hurt my gum the other night and its been causing me some issues since so I welcomed a little break.

That can be distracting. Some days it pays to take things easy.
2023-11-4
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Blériot53 Posted at 11-4 01:49
That can be distracting. Some days it pays to take things easy.

I took some anadin last night and they really helped so Im back on them this morning.  
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DAFlys Posted at 11-4 01:59
I took some anadin last night and they really helped so Im back on them this morning.

I'm just doing forum catch-up. Yesterday I learned that an old friend in France has died (same age as me).
Impossible to get there in time for the funeral. Spent quite a bit of time on the phone- you can imagine.
Quite a sobering day.  Gloomy and drizzly here today - hasn't improved the mood.
2023-11-4
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