Bognor Regis pier was built in 1865, marking its 150th birthday in 2015. Back in 1865, the pier was around 1000 feet long (that’s around 305 metres). In 1880, a small bandstand was added at the end of the pier, followed by a pavilion in 1900. In 1909, the pier was sold after concerns were raised over safety, with the conditions that repairs would be carried out. By 1912, the new owners had created a complex at the shore end of the pier which included a cinema, arcade, theatre and roof garden.
Bognor Pier 1910 - Copyright of Cartland (1979) Bygone Bognor - Picture 98
Arial view of Bognor Regis Pier 1936 - Copyright of Alford (2002) The Paradise Rocks: A 1930’s Childhood in Bognor and a Little Local History - Picture 98
During World War II (1939-1945), the pier was named HMS St. Barbara as it was used as a Royal Navy observation station. During this time, the middle section of the pier was removed in an attempt to stop the Germans from invading. Some historians question this action as the Germans could have easily landed on the beach! Between 1964 and 1965, severe storms caused the end of the pier to collapse, causing the loss of the pavilion. What remained following these events, is the pier we see today. Although attempts have been made to restore the pier, these have been rejected.
Collapsed Pavilion 1965 - Copyright of Alford (2002) The Paradise Rocks: A 1930’s Childhood in Bognor and a Little Local History - Picture 99
In the 1930’s Bognor Regis became popular for diving displays off the end of the pier. This sparked the idea for the annual Birdman Rally which originated in 1978. The Birdman Rally continues today in West Sussex and involves people jumping off the end of the pier in contraptions they have built to help them fly!
Modern Bognor Regis Beach and Pier - Copyright Danielle Pitman