THE old postcards of F G O Stuart were very nostalgic.

Southbourne Pier had a brief existence. Work began in early 1886, to a design by Archibald Smith of Boscombe for the Southbourne Pier Company Ltd. It cost £4,000 to build with Mr E. Howell of Poole as contractor. Archibald Smith and Mr Howell were to collaborate again in constructing the original Boscombe Pier which opened on 29th July 1889.

Southbourne Pier opened on 2nd August 1886 with around 1,200 people strolling along its 300ft length. The official opening ceremony was led by His Grace the Duke of Argyll. Paddle steamer “Lord Elgin” was the first vessel to call at the pier with regular sailings between Bournemouth and Southbourne piers, as well as across to Swanage, starting four days later.

Southbourne Pier, Esplanade and the enormous sea walls (built to support the undercliff drive on which houses had been built) were severely damaged by storms on 28th December 1900 and 3rd January 1901. The Southbourne Pier Company Ltd. had no reserve funds for repairs and the pier fell into rapid decline. Bournemouth Corporation wouldn’t buy the remains so they were demolished, on safety grounds, during (it is believed) 1907. Remains of a few concrete foundation blocks were still evident on the beach until about 1930.

Regarding another postcard reproduced on page 23. I’m not sure the caption - Bournemouth Air Festival 1930 - is necessarily correct. The last one was held at Ensbury Park in 1927 and this aerodrome was superseded by one in the Somerford area of Christchurch.

This latter venue may have held an air festival in 1930 but I’ve been unable to ascertain confirmation. Alan Cobham’s National Aviation Day display (generally, but unofficially, known as his Flying Circus) came to Christchurch, on 30th April 1933, and attracted over 8,000 spectators.

The Air Defence Experimental Establishment (later the Signal Research and Development Establishment) was built on the North east corner of Christchurch airfield and opened in September 1939. It was heavily involved in the development of RDF/Radar in conjunction with sites at Steamer Point and Worth Matravers near Swanage.

I hope this information is of interest to your readers.


West Drive, Swanage