Fylde's Missing Heritage: Lytham Pier

CONTINUING on with our look at Fylde's Missing Heritage, this week reporter Anne-Marie Wharton takes a look at the fondly-remembered Lytham Pier.

ONCE upon a time, a pier was vital to the economy of any self-respecting seaside resort- and on Easter Monday 1865, Lytham joined other towns up and down the country and got a pier of its own.

Crowds of visitors from all over Lancashire poured in to join the celebrations. The squire's wife Lady Eleanor Cecily Clifton performed the opening ceremony.

In 1861, the Pier Company had sought permission to build a pier that was to be more than 900 feet in length, but the construction cost was not to be more than 6,000.

In 1864 work began, and the wrought iron and hardwood structure lengthened rapidly from the edge of the sea wall. The eventual finished length was 914 feet.

For the small sum of 2d (less than 1p), people could have a wander along the pier.

For an annual fee, local passenger-carrying boatmen could use the structure without let or hindrance for embarking or disembarking of foot passengers.

The entertainment provided was more of a genteel nature than Blackpool's and a repertory company put on plays for those folk which it defined as of a "refined disposition."

In the 1890s a Floral Hall was added to the amenities, followed by a pavilion for concerts and similar entertainments. Later this building became a roller-skating rink and then a cinema.

A pier orchestra was formed and led by Lionel Johns of the Halle orchestra.

In 1903 two gale-driven barges rammed into the central structure, causing more damage to the pier than to themselves.

The pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1927, and the Floral Hall became more and more unpopular.

In 1938 the pier that had been so welcomed 80 years before was closed for good - and left to rot.

Decay progressed throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and eventually the decision was made to remove and scrap the by-now dangerous edifice.

In 1960, the demolition teams moved in to remove the useless timber and wood - and the story of Lytham Pier came to an end.

This was despite a 2,593-strong petition by residents when the town council refused to pay 5,000 to save it from the scrap merchants.