Clarence Pier

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Clarence Pier.

Clarence Pier is an amusement pier in Portsmouth, Hampshire. It is located by the Portsmouth Hovercraft terminal. Unlike most seaside piers in the UK, the pier does not extend very far out to sea, instead goes along the coast.

The pier was originally constructed in 1861 and boasted a regular ferry service to the Isle of Wight. It was damaged by air raids during World War II and opened in its current form in 1961.

The main entrance to the pier from the road is via a striking pavilion building with distinctive yellow and blue cladding and a small tower. This originally housed an amusement arcade and cafe although in more recent years, the upper floor has variously been used for "Pirate Pete's" indoor children's playground, a Wimpy bar and a Coffee Cup Outlet (originally a Prize Bingo hall) while the 'Golden Horseshoe' amusement arcade remains on the ground floor.

A smaller building, perpendicular but not physically joined to the main pavilion houses another amusement arcade, the "Wheel Of Fortune" and some small gift shops. The upper floor was originally used as a public house, but in 1994 it was converted into 'Jurassic 3001', a futuristic dinosaur themed dark ride. The ride's exterior featured an animatronic triceratops, whose head protruded from the side of the building and roared occasionally at passers-by. The attraction closed in 2001, yet all ride signage and theming on the building remained until the end of 2011. The upper floor space previously occupied by this ride underwent a conversion to apartments, according to planning publications, in 2012.

The main funfair operates on a free admission, pay-per-ride token-based system. In the early 1980s, the amusement park was named "Fun Acres" and as well as the whole pier itself, it also took up 3500 sq metres of land or so to the North West of the Northern part of the pier. This part of the park was cleared and redeveloped as a restaurant, crazy golf course and hotel during the 1990s, therefore the park itself is significantly smaller than it used to be. The old part of the park contained the 56-seat Corbiere Spherical Ferris Wheel[1] and a ghost train among other attractions. The token booths were shaped as mushrooms.

The pier viewed from gosport

One of the main landmarks of Clarence Pier until the mid-1990s was the Super Loop ride, since removed. The Ferris wheel was sold and relocated to Pleasureland Southport.[2] One ride which lasted the duration and remains to this day is the Skyways roller coaster. A new addition to the pier is a pirate-themed crazy golf course situated behind the Wheel of Fortune arcade.

"Mind The Baby, Mr. Bean", an episode of British TV comedy series "Mr. Bean" was filmed on location at Clarence Pier (as well as other locations in Southsea). This was prior to the closure of the North Western part of the park and the closure of the Wheel Of Fortune public house. The episode shows the Super Loop, Skyways roller coaster, and many of the park's other attractions from that time. Clarence Pier was also the filming location to the teen pop band, "S Club Juniors" song, "Fool No More" filmed mainly on the dodgems but the rollercoaster, 'Skyways' can also be seen in the video.

2007 Ferris wheel proposal [edit]

The Solent Eye Ferris wheel was proposed by Billy Manning Ltd[3] for Clarence Pier in 2007.[4] On 17 October, permission for a 130-foot tall (40 m) wheel was granted,[5] but two days later it was revealed that Portsmouth City Councillors wished the wheel was bigger. As a result, the original plans, which were for a 180-foot tall (55 m) wheel, were revived[6] and conditional planning permission subsequently granted on 19 December 2007.[7] It was expected to cost £2 million.[3]

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Coordinates: 50°47.164′N 1°06.068′W / 50.786067°N 1.101133°W / 50.786067; -1.101133