Swanage Pier

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Swanage Pier. - panoramio.jpg

Swanage Pier as seen from the Downs at the southern end of Swanage

Swanage Pier is a pier in the coastal town of Swanage, built in 1895 for passenger services.[1] The pier extends into the southern end of Swanage Bay near Swanage, a small town in the south east of Dorset, England. It is situated on the eastern coast of the Isle of Purbeck, approximately 10 km south of Poole and 40 km east of Dorchester in the United Kingdom.

An older pier was used by stone quarries to transport stone for shipping, and fell into decline. All that remains of it are its timber piles.


The first Swanage Pier was built between 1859 and 1860 for use primarily by the local stone quarrying industry, and included a tramway which ran the length of the pier and some way along the seafront. The old tracks can be seen to this day, inset into the seafront walkways.

When local businessman George Burt introduced regular steamer services between Swanage and nearby towns Poole and Bournemouth in 1874, a need became apparent for a second pier to be built primarily for use by passenger steamers. Construction on the new pier began in 1895, and by 1896 was first used by a steamer. The pier was officially opened for traffic on 29th March 1897. While regular steamer services ran on the new pier up until 1966, the older original pier declined along with the stone industry it served some years earlier. Today all that remains of the old pier are some of the timber piles.

After steamer services discontinued in 1966 the remaining pleasure pier also began to fall into disrepair. In 1976 Grade 2 listed status was awarded to the pier. After a failed attempt to restore the pier by a development firm in 1986, Swanage Pier Trust took over ownership of the pier in 1994.[2]

The Trust took on the task of raising over £1,000,000 needed to carry out major restoration work on the piers piles and timbers and ironwork fittings. Swanage Pier reopened in 1998.

The pier today[edit]

Swanage Pier at dusk

Today the pier is open to the public once again. Small scale ferry services run daily throughout the summer season, mainly to Poole Quay.[3] The pier also hosts a successful diving school, the oldest in the UK,[4] and is visited annually by historic steamers including the Waverley [5] paddle steamer.

The pier is a popular training site for new and qualified divers[6] because it is one of the few sheltered sea diving sites on the south coast. It has easy access from adjacent car parks, it has depths of only 4 metres[6] and it has a nearby dive shop. The Marine Conservation Society South East group use the pier as a location for its training dives[7] during their Marine identification and underwater photography courses due to the wide range of marine life found under the pier.

The Trust maintain a gift shop an exhibition providing information for visitors. The exhibition houses a small marine aquarium showcasing the species of marine life that can be found under the Pier.[8] These can be found in Marine Villas which at the shore end of the pier. There is also the 1859 Pier Cafe & Bistro for refreshments. The pier receives over 100,000 visitors a year.[9]

The restored pier was awarded the Pier of The Year award in the spring of 2012 by the National Piers Society.[9][10] It is a Grade II listed building.[11]

The BBC's adaptation of EM Forster's novel 'Howards End' (2017) used Swanage Pier as a location.


  1. ^ "Timeline | The Swanage Pier Trust". www.swanagepiertrust.com. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  2. ^ "Timeline | The Swanage Pier Trust". www.swanagepiertrust.com. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  3. ^ "Boat Trips & Paddle Steamer". Swanage Pier Trust. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  4. ^ "Divers Down Swanage". Divers Down Swanage. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  5. ^ "Waverley - South Coast". Waverley Excursions Ltd. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  6. ^ a b "Swanage Pier - Diving England, Europe, dive site directory". Dive Site Directory. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  7. ^ "Courses". Marine Conservation Society South East. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Swanage Pier Trust | The Swanage Pier Trust". www.swanagepiertrust.com. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  9. ^ a b "Pier of the Year award won by Swanage". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
  10. ^ "Swanage is pier of the year 2012". National Piers Society. Archived from the original on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Swanage Pier - National Piers Society". Piers.org.uk. 24 September 1966. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2016.

External links[edit]