The Preston Guardian, Saturday, June 28, 1862
DRIVING OF THE FIRST PILE OF THE BLACKPOOL PIER, YESTERDAY.
Attractive as Blackpool is as a watering place, and thronged, as it is, during
the summer months, by visitors anxious to enjoy the bracing air of the “Brighton of the North," it
has had one drawback. The breakers often run so strong against the cliffs, that it is not always
prudent to attempt to land passengers there, and under the moat favourable circumstances it is very
inconvenient. The inhabitants and visitors have long felt that it would be desirable to have a pier
at which passengers could land. It was considered that if one was erected, not merely would there
be an inducement offered for steamers regularly to ply to Preston, Southport, Lytham, Fleetwood,
&c. but it would afford the means for an agreeable promenade.
The success that attended the erection of a pier at Southport induced the
inhabitants of Blackpool to bestir themselves to provide this much-needed requirement, and about
eight months since a meeting was held to consider the advisability of erecting one. The suggestion
was favourably entertained, and at a meeting last January a company on the limited liability
principle was established, and the public were invited to take shares in the undertaking, the
capital being fixed at £12,000.
The response was so far favourable that more applications were made for shares
than could be entertained, and immediately on their being issued, they were quoted at a premium in
the share market. Following the formation of the company, steps were taken to obtain a design, and
one submitted. by Mr. M. E. Birch, of Parliament-square, London, was accepted, and the
superintendence of the works was entrusted to Messrs. Birch, who constructed the piers at Brighton,
Deal, Hastings, and Greenhithe, Messrs. Laidlow and Sons, Glasgow, are the contractors for the
erection of the work, for which they are to receive £11,540.
The pier will commence a, little to the south of that portion of the beach known
as the Mound, near the Clifton Arms, and branch out into the sea to the extent of upwards of
1,350 feet. The dimensions of the rectangular head of the pier (which will be made of sufficient
strength to admit of the approach of steamers for pleasure trips) are 132 by 50 feet, the approach
will be forty feet wide and 120 feet long ; the width of the main body of the pier, 25 feet. Seat
accommodation will be provided for 2,000 persons ; as well as refreshment-rooms, shelter sheds,
stalls, Ike. The elevation will be greater by one or two feet than that of any other
open-constructed pier in England, the height of the road-way from the sands, at the extreme end,
being 42 feet ; and at the high water of the spring tides it will be 15 feet above the reach of the
The piles on which it will be erected are "Mitchell's patent," the invention of
a blind Irish engineer ; and of the same kind as those employed in the erection of the Fleetwood
screw-pile lighthouse ; the outside piles are nine feet long, twelve inches in diameter, hollow,
and of 1¼ inch metal ; the others are of a less size ; the diameter of the screw, two feet
six inches. A stiff, marly clay is found about five feet below the surface, affording an excellent
foundation, into which the pile will be screwed three feet, making the depth to which they will be
sunk below the service of the sand eight feet. According to the terms of the contract, the pier is
to be completed in six months after its being signed, and upwards of a month has since elapsed ; as
that, if nothing hinders, the erection will be at the service of the public towards the latter end
of the present season. It has been suggested that the head of the pier, when completed, should be
the station of a life boat.
The ceremony of driving the first pile, it had been intimated, would take place
early in the afternoon ; but from various delays it was five o'clock ere the work was done. A large
number of ladies and gentlemen were assembled on the beach and on the promenade above, whence a
view of the proceedings could be obtained. The Blackpool Subscription Band was also on the spot,
and greatly contributed to revive the flagging patience of the spectators. At about the hour named,
all being ready, Captain F. PRESTON, of the Manchester Artillery Rifle Volunteers, the Chairman of
the Directors of the Company, amid the cheers of those present, drove the screw once round, after
which he briefly addressed the assembly.
He said that, as a representative of the Blackpool Pier Company, he had
undertaken the screwing of the first pile of the pier. In doing so, he could assure them that it
afforded him very great pleasure, inasmuch as he thought the undertaking would be not only
advantageous to those gentlemen who had invested capital in the undertaking, but of great benefit
to the inhabitants of the town. If they accomplished those two objects, he was sure every one must
fool satisfied. Their first object was to give satisfaction to those gentlemen who had invested
their money he the undertaking ; and, coupled with that, they would endeavour to erect each a pier
as would be a source of satisfaction to the residents, and attract the visitors from the
surrounding districts. That was not the time for him to make a speech, but it would give him great
pleasure to do so when the pier was completed.
The conditions of the contract of Messrs. Laidlow and Son was that the pier
would be completed within six months of the signing of the contract, and, a month having already
elapsed, they might presume to say a portion of it would be ready before the season was out. When
it was completed it was the intention of the directors to celebrate the opening by a much more
formidable affair than at present, and he hoped it would be a successful issue. He, along with the
other directors, wished ever success to the undertaking, and to the district; and he trusted they
might all live to see it finished.—(Hear, hear.)
The band then struck up the National Anthem, and after three cheers had been
lustily given, the proceedings on the beach terminated.
was provided at the Clifton Arms, at which nearly 50 gentlemen were present.
Amongst those present were :— Captain Preston, Lieut, Barton, T. Fair, Esq. ; the Revd. Messrs.
Jenour, Roe, Oldfield, and Burchell ; Mr. Birch, engineer ; Mr. Laidlow contractor ; Messrs.
Veiner, Rawcliffe, Eccleston, Topping, Lewis, and other shareholders from a distance. The repast
was of a most liberal and gratifying description, and the waiting all that could be desired. An
elegant dessert supplemented the more substantial meal. Captain Preston, presided, T. Fair, Esq.,
occupying the vice-chair.
The toasts, " The Queen, God bless her," " The Prince of Wales and the rest of
the Royal Family," "The Army and Navy," (responded to by Lieutenant Barton, of the Volunteers),
followed in succession, after which
The PRESIDENT said he had next to propose a toast Which, he was sure, they would
all agree, was closely allied to the stability of all great countries. They did not profess, in the
present mixed company of creeds, to be too precise in their ideas, but he thought that all of them,
as Englishmen, and as well-wishers to society, had always the cause of religion at heart, and if he
gave the health of the class which conduced more than any other to the prosperity of all civilized
nations, the clergy of all denominations, coupled with that of the senior clergyman of that
district (Rev. A. Jenour), he was sure they would do justice to it.
The toast was drunk with enthusiasm.
The Rev. A. JENOUR said it was always a pain to hire to respond to a toast, but
that was an exception,—he really had pleasure in responding to the toast now proposed, more
especially on account of the manner in which it had been proposed. He regarded that no a very
important day, and he trusted, that although the proceedings bad not been formally commenced with
prayer, most of them had prayed to God to give his blessing on the undertaking. It had long been
his opinion that a pier would be , of the greatest importance to Blackpool ; and he trusted that
what hart been commenced that day would be happily completed He had no doubt it would prove a great
benefit to Blackpool and the country at large.-- (Hear, hear.)
The PRESIDENT then gave the toast, " Success to the Blackpool Pier Company,
Limited, and may it flourish and be beneficial to the Company who have undertaken it." Ho had very
great pleasure in doing so, because he thought it would be en undertaking satisfactory to those who
had risked their money in it, and that it would promote the prosperity of the town of Blackpool.
The shareholders had expressed no doubt in the success of the undertaking. On the contrary, three
times as many shares had been applied for than the directors had power to issue ; therefore, it was
evident the public perfectly recognised the feasibility of the undertaking.
He might state that it had not been the wish of the directors to have a public
entertainment on the occasion of the driving of the first pile of the pier ; but it was fully their
intention to celebrate its opening with all the dignity in their scope. He wished them to regard
the present in the light of a private rather than a public occasion. After a few other
observations, the toast was heartily drunk. The remainder of the evening was spent in a most