IAN Crump's nostalgia article on 20th April was most interesting.

The first shipments of stone to London were taken by horse-drawn carts over poor roads to Poole Quay. The first sailings direct from Swanage were made from the appropriately-named Stone Quay (which still exists) opposite Seymer Road. This required blocks to be rowed out, in small boats, to vessels at anchor in Swanage Bay and restricted the sizes of stone that could be handled.

The first wooden pier was built by James Walton's construction company of London, for the Swanage Pier and Tramway Company owned by John Mowlem and he opened it in 1860. It had a narrow gauge tramway for horse-drawn wagons of local stone needed for new buildings in London. Other commodities using the pier included coal, timber and fish.

George Burt [John Mowlem's nephew] started a steamer service linking Poole Quay, Bournemouth Pier and Swanage in 1874. This caused congestion with horses and wagons on this fairly narrow pier. Stone and coal trade transferred to LSWR trains after the Swanage Branch opened in 1885.

The replacement was planned as a pleasure pier but it was not until Saturday 30th November 1895 that the first greenheart timber pile was driven into the seabed. It was opened on Monday 29th March 1897 and over 10,000 visitors arrived during the first season.

Attacks by Gribble Worm (wood eating marine isopod) saw some piles decaying. In 1927, they were lined with concrete to try and prolong their life. In common with all piers along the south coast it was breached in 1939 as an anti-invasion precaution. The missing section was restored, using reinforced concrete, during 1948.

PS Embassy called on 24th September 1966 after which the pier fell into disrepair. It was designated a Grade II listed structure in 1976 within the Swanage Town Conservation Area. Swanage Pier Trust acquired control in 1994 since when well over a million pounds from Lottery funding, English Heritage, other grants plus money raised from the local community and visitors, has been spent on restoring pier and adjacent Marine Villas visitor centre and cafe. In addition, the Trust has to raise around £130,000 a year to run and maintain the pier.

In March 2012, Swanage Pier was voted the National Piers Society Pier of the Year. During April 2017 it was the set for scenes in the BBC series ‘Howards End’. On Wednesday 3rd April 2019, National Piers Society Patron, actor Timothy West, reopened the refurbished Swanage Pier. In March 2023, Swanage Pier hosted filming of an episode of BBC TV's Antiques Road Show.

I hope your readers might be interested in this information.

Peter Sykes,

West Drive,