‘At that time the introduction of the railways for the first time permitted mass tourism to dedicated seaside resorts. However, the large tidal ranges at many such resorts meant that for much of the day, the sea was not visible from dry land. The pleasure pier was the resorts’ answer, permitting holiday makers to promenade over and alongside the sea at all times’ says Wikipedia. But piers are something more than just practical adornments to seaside resorts. They have all kinds of elusive meanings. This page will be a notebook for thoughts on this topic.
First off, piers are meeting places. Relationships start there – like the one mentioned in the comments on this beautiful little blog post.
And for my second entry on this list… piers can be considered as phallic symbols
“That potent symbol of the Victorian seaside, the pier, was more than capable of adjusting to inter-war trends…it is the essence of liminality, with more convincing credentials as phallic symbol than the tallest tower, as it points a stiff masculine technological probe into the mysterious feminine world of the sea, linking the elements to generate the special frisson of pleasure and the privileged gaze that go with occupying the bridging point of two worlds” (The British Seaside, John K. Walton, MUP 2000). This sounds exciting – but is the sea really feminine, or technology masculine? Who forges this symbolic order? I do like the idea of piers as a way of moving between worlds though.
For practical and up-to-date information about British seaside piers, I heartily recommend the National Piers Society website.