We may be back at home in Gibraltar now, but a little bit of me has been left behind in Southwold, where we ended our lovely month in England. In fact there has been a little bit of me (and Mr Postcard) in Southwold for over a decade now, but more on that later.
Southwold is famous for many things, the pretty town centre, the beach huts, the brewery, the harbour, the fish and chips, the church etc etc but the place we always associate with our visits to the town is the pier.
In its (first) heyday, at the turn of the last century,steam liners used to moor at the end of the pier and allow holiday makers to alight and enjoy the delights the town had to offer before rejoining the ship and moving on to their next destination.
Over the years since then it’s been damaged by storms, shortened during the war, rebuilt and extended. It’s length has changed from 250m at it’s longest to just 18m at it’s shortest.
In the late 90s new investment was pumped into the pier and it was repaired and extended to the size it is now, the final T-shaped end being completed in 2002 so that the last seagoing paddle steamer, the PS Waverley could once again call at the town.
Fans, or should I say, parents of fans of the CBeebies programme Grandpa in my pocket may recognise the pier as one of the venues used to film the show. Miss Smiley’s café was on the pier.
When you first arrive on the planks of the pier, you can see beautiful mosaic tables all around you. They are for the restaurant which is situated at the start of the pier.
Most of the time that we were there during the last two weeks, all the tables were taken – I only managed to get photos of these two! Fish and chips seemed to be a popular choice on the menu when we were passing.
One feature which always has a small group admiring it is the water clock. Built by locally based inventor Tim Hunkin, it puts on a special performance every half hour.
Starting with a couple of bathers who squirt water out at you as the time approaches the hour or half hour, various parts of the clock move.
The actions move lower down the clock tower until a row of red tulips pop up and two boys drop their trousers to have a wee! (Those of an easily offended disposition; please look away now!)
There are many shocked giggles from the children and a few sharp intakes of breath from some of the adults, amazed that such shenanigans should be allowed!
Another of Tim Hunkin’s creations is the Under the Pier Show, an amusement arcade unlike any other you will see elsewhere. Full of home made machines including the Zimmer frame masterclass for crossing a road (below) to the motorised dog on a treadmill which gives players the opportunity to experience dog walking if they don’t own one themselves.
Along with eating establishments, there are also a couple of gift/souvenir shops selling beachy type things.
There’s even a micro bandstand!
Now to the plaques. Any visitor to the pier won’t fail to notice the hundreds and hundreds of plaques which run along the rails around the wooden promenade. Each one tells a different story. People can pay for a plaque to be mounted somewhere on the pier, the money is then invested in the fabric of the building to preserve it for future generations – a form of crowd funding, if you like.
Some are in memory of special people, some remember happy holidays spent in Southwold, others are for special birthdays. There was even a book compiled by a local writer who told the stories behind some of the many plaques on show.
Our most memorable wedding present was one of these plaques. It ws a great surprise for us when Mr Postcard’s Mum and Dad revealed that we were having our own plaque made. I can remember being led along the pier to see it for the first time.
Each of the Little Postcards, has been brought to the pier to be photographed in front of our plaque in their pram with the seaside town and lighthouse in the background. We have a lovely series of photos here as our family has grown and got bigger over the years.
So there you have it, that was my Postcard from Southwold Pier, a special place for us. I do hope you have enjoyed it 🙂