100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 17 – Boscombe Pier

Normally, my blogs are all my own work, including the photography. However, as I am still self isolating with Covid, in the immortal words of Monty Python; ‘And Now for Something Completely Different…’ I love Boscombe Pier and go there regularly, so here is its story from the beginning.

Watching the Red Arrows fly over Boscombe Pier

The Victorian pier in Boscombe has had an interesting, if somewhat turbulent history. The Grade II listed structure was built in 1888 and opened the following year, with a pierhead added later to act as a landing stage for boat excursions.

Taking a stroll along Boscombe Pier early 1900s

In 1897, a whale washed up on Boscombe Beach and was auctioned by the coastguard for £27. The owner wasn’t quite sure what to do with the remains, so after a failed attempt to sell the blubber, the skeleton was put on display on Boscombe Pier.

Pier with Whale Skeleton around 1900

There is a Heritage Trail along the pier, telling the story of its history, like this incident in 1910, when charms were thrown off the pier in attempt to cure an Egyptian Princess…

Heritage Trail

In 1940, the pier was partially destroyed for defence reasons and it remained derelict for many years.

Rebuilding the Pier after the War

In 1962, the new entrance was built in a modernist style. It was designed by Borough architect John Burton, with a cantilevered roof designed to mimic the wings of a jet aircraft. A building was added at the end of the pier which served as a theatre, roller skating rink and arcade before it fell into disrepair and the pier closed once more.

Vintage Poster of the new Pier Entrance

In 2008, the area underwent extensive renovation, part of which entailed restoring the pier and led to Boscombe Pier being crowned Pier of the Year in 2010.

Entrance to Boscombe Pier

In 2016, the country’s first eco friendly mini golf course was introduced, with golf balls made of fish food, which drop through a bottomless hole 18 into the sea. Unfortunately, the course closed during the pandemic, and earlier this year, the council decided it would not reopen.

Boscombe Pier

Also earlier this year (and presumably unrelated), a local man spotted UFOs flying above the pier.

UFOs over Boscombe Pier?

The pier is open from 9 am to 11 pm daily and is free to enter. There is cafe and shop selling beach tat at the entrance to the pier. You also fish from the pier if fishing is your thing. Make sure you buy a permit (£7.70) and don’t do like one plonker and show off your catch by holding it above your mouth, dropping it and choking to death. Luckily, paramedics managed to revive aforementioned plonker, but the fish was less lucky.

Fishing from Boscombe Pier

Every September, the pier becomes the focal point of more identifiable flying objects during the annual Bournemouth Air Festival. It is a spectacular sight watch the Red Arrows dive and spin above pier. It is also a great vantage point to watch powerboat racing in the bay.

Watching powerboats from the pier

For the remainder of the year, the pier a pleasant place for a stroll; you can walk along the pier, following a heritage trail, playing an instrument or two. At the end is a viewing point where you can look across the bay to Bournemouth and on a good day, further afield to the Purbecks and the Isle of Wight.

View from the Pier

For those who prefer less sedate activities, the pier features in the annual Bournemouth Half Marathon and 10k races and is a popular spot for runners, with the Strava segments highly contested.

Christmas jog along the Pier

Another popular sporting activity is to swim the 1.4 miles from Boscombe pier to Bournemouth pier, either as an organised event in the Pier to Pier Swim, or just for the sake of it.

Setting of to swim from pier to pier

Along the length of the pier are a number of musical instruments which you can play with as you walk along the pier. My favourite is a set of bells which play “I do like to be beside the seaside”. And let’s face it – who doesn’t?

Musical Trail

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