Southsea is blessed not just with one pier, but with two! It is home to the wonderful Clarence Pier and South Parade Pier, each of which has its own identity, but they complement each other amazingly well.
Southsea is a firm favourite with many families and for some very good reasons, because it boasts some wonderful attractions, in the form of two family orientated piers, some great beaches and plenty to see and do, whatever the weather!
Clarence Pier Clarence Pier was the first of the piers in Southsea. It was constructed in 1860, opening in 1861. This was a classically designed Victorian pier, that was so typical of the grandeur and splendour that was associated with Victorian architecture. The pier was later complemented by the addition of a very stylish and opulent pavilion, built in a classic octagonal style. This really was Victorian architecture at its very best. To celebrate the importance of the pavilion, it was opened in 1882, by the Prince of Wales. Further works were to follow, with an extension in 1905, and 1932 saw the creation of facilities such as a new café, a concourse hall, a sumptuous sun deck as well as shops. However, the grandeur of the pavilion was not to last and in 1941, she became a casualty of the Second World War, being destroyed by a bomb raid. After the war, various options of rebuilding the pier were discussed, but few came to any positive options on which a design could be based. Eventually, a very dramatic option was chosen. Instead of having the pier running out into the sea, why not have it going across the beach instead? This would mean that it would be facing the sea side on, rather than projecting into it. This has resulted in a pier that is actually wide and short as opposed to long and narrow. Unfortunately the fact that it faces the sea from the side, it doesn’t feel or seem like a pier, it simply seems to be a big amusement arcade. But for anyone interested in architecture, it is an interesting way to see just what a radical concept for a pier this design really is. The new pier opened in 1861, a century after the first pier was built and it was designed to incorporate all the family fun things that people had come to expect at the seaside. This has resulted in Clarence Pier being the biggest theme park on the south coast. Clarence Pier is home to various rides, amusement arcades and games and really does feel more like a theme park than a pier. With names like the Extreme, you just know your senses are going to be stimulated, as well as your nerves! Admission to the pier is free and you simply buy tokens to use on any rides that you want to go on. There is no wrist band system. The fairground or theme park are open from May until September, but a children’s play area, Pirate Pete’s is open all year round, as are the amusement arcades, so there is something to do whenever you visit. There are a number of fast food outlets on the pier, so you don’t waste any ‘ride time’ by having long, luxurious meals: this is a pier dedicated to the hard work of having fun! There are 3 amusement arcades, with all kinds of games, from the very traditional to the most thrill seeking action games, where you really can get interactive. Clarence Pier is very much a loud, upfront, scream till you are hoarse amusement arcade. It isn’t delicate and refined, but it is wonderful place just to absorb a real family fun atmosphere and all the thrills and spills of a giant funfair. If you want life a little bit less frenetic, then that is where the Southsea Parade Pier comes in, so for respite and to relax, take a stroll down to the Parade Pier. Clarence Pier Opening Times Southsea South Parade Pier Southsea South Parade Pier was opened in 1879, shortly after the original Clarence Pier was opened. She was designed to meet the needs of passengers who were travelling from or to the Isle of Wight and was a perfect complement to the grand Clarence. However, her splendour was to be short lived, because she was destroyed by fire in 1904. She was re-built and extended to 183 metres (approx 600 feet) and this time she was designed to be more of a pleasure palace than a jetty, she had quite a range of facilities such as a pavilion, 2 halls, windscreens all the way around and a bar and lounge incorporated in the small pavilion at the end of the pier. So in her day, the South Parade Pier was to be the theme park and she was soon to become a real favourite with families, who enjoyed the fact that there were some excellent shows in the concert halls as well as all year round facilities. Life trundled on for the pier for over the next sixty or so years. Then she was to experience the problem faced by so many piers, namely fires. In 1967 the first fire struck, then in 1974, the second, more extensive fire was to wreak quite a lot of damage, with only the valiant efforts of over 100 fire-fighters averting disaster. So, the South Sea Parade had to be re-built once more.
He re-building was a less dramatic design than the Clarence, but she has a number of amusement games and things to do, with various function rooms, bars and concert venues, there are regular shows to take in. The theatre is quite well renowned and there is all the facilities that you would expect to find on a pier, along with a wide different things going on in the function room, from dancing to people getting married! Still a busy venue the South Parade is less noisy than the Clarence and does offer some fantastic views out to the Solent over to the Isle of Wight, on a clear day. Although there are lots of cafes, games and kiosks, you can still find a little bit of peace and quiet on the South Parade Pier and just rest and relax a while, soaking up the atmosphere and building up an appetite, so that you can have some good old fish and chips! Links Links: Clarence Pier Website South Parade Pier Website * All links will open in a new window