Just over a mile from Bournemouth Pier with its amusements, fun fair and restaurants is Boscombe Pier. Here, there are no such attractions, but the iconic 19th Century structure makes for a pleasant stroll. You can walk along the pier, following a heritage trail, playing an instrument or two along the way. 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.
Boscombe Pier is 1.5 miles east of Bournemouth along the Prom (not accessible by car) or 2 miles by road along the A35. By bus from Bournemouth, buses 1, 1a, 1b and M2 stop at Boscombe Gardens. From here, it is a 10 minute walk through the gardens to the beach. Pokesdown Station is 1.3 miles away. The No 99 bus loops between the station, Boscombe and the beach every 30 minutes. In the summer (beginning 27th May), the 70 and 80 Beach Breezer buses follow the coast, linking Bournemouth with Boscombe and beyond as far as Poole (70) and Mudeford (80).
Boscombe Pier is just down the road (literally – it’s quite a steep road) from the centre of Boscombe. It’s a pleasant stroll/cycle along the Prom from Bournemouth or Southbourne or it can be reached on the Land Train from Bournemouth.
There is a beachside Pay & Display car park; Boscombe Undercliff Car Park running towards Bournemouth. Fees are seasonal, costing £2.10-£2.50 for an hour off peak. During July and August, daily charges apply with a flat fee of £15 for arrival before 2 pm. Further details can be found here.
There is another Pay & Display; Overstrand Car Park just above the pier. Fees are similar (there is no daily flat rate in July/August). Details can be found here.
The road behind Overstrand Car Park; The Marina has metered parking between April and October. Charges start from £2.20 for an hour, details here. A bit further from the beach, it may be possible to find free roadside parking. Note that car parks fill up quickly during peak times.
The pier is open from 9 am to 11 pm daily.
It is free to visit Boscombe Pier.
I love Boscombe pier and go there regularly, so here is its story from the beginning;
The Victorian pier 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 boats.
In 1897, a whale washed up on Boscombe Beach and was auctioned by the coastguard for £27. However, the new 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.
Boards along the pier form a Heritage Trail telling the pier’s history, like an incident in 1910, when charms were thrown off the pier in attempt to cure a sick Egyptian Princess. Or the 1920 addition of a concert hall with external trumpet amplifiers.
In 1940, the pier was partially destroyed for defence reasons and it remained derelict until 1962, when 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 plane. 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.
In 2008, the area underwent extensive renovation, part of which entailed restoring the pier, which led to it being crowned Pier of the Year in 2010!
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 Covid pandemic, and the council decided it would not reopen.
Also during the pandemic (and presumably unrelated), a local man allegedly spotted UFOs flying above the pier.
As mentioned above the Heritage Trail tells the history of Boscombe Pier on a series of panels displayed along the pier.
Musical play trail
There are several musical instruments along the pier which form a Musical Play Trail to keep visitors entertained.
Food and Drink
There are takeaway food and ice cream kiosks plus a kiosk selling general tat at the entrance to the pier.
Bournemouth Air Show
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.
Pier to Pier Swim
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 charity event, or just for the sake of it.
The pier features in the annual Run Bournemouth Half Marathon and 10k races and is a popular addition to training runs, with the Strava segments being highly contested, with around 50,000 runs recorded. At 140 metres long, Holly Danbury’s course record of 3 sounds a little far fetched – maybe she was towed by a UFO?
Fishing is permitted on the pier. Permits can be purchased from the car park attendant. It costs £8.50 per day for adults, £6 for seniors/children or £60 for a season ticket. Make sure you 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 – it’s a shame the same can’t be said for the fish!
Boscombe Pier for Children
The musical play trail is popular with children. The chimes pictured below plays the song ‘Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside!’ if you hit the tubes in order.
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