Britannia Pier

Photographs and information about the pier's colourful history

By Martin Keable

The Britannia Pier was built in 1858, some four years after the Wellington Pier at a cost of £6000.

The very next year saw the first of the accidents which were to blight this structure. A ship collided with it and removed some 80 feet of the original 750. The same thing happened again in 1868 but the owners were not disheartened - in 1901 they built a pavilion on the end but fate showed its hand again and the structure burnt down in 1909.

A new one was built but this burnt down in 1914, with some saying that it was the work of the suffragettes. This structure was replaced in 1932 and survived the Second World War although the Royal Engineers did blow a hole in the pier decking in 1940 as a precaution against the enemy landing!

Fate showed its hand on Easter Monday 1954 when, yet again, the pavilion went up in flames. This was just at the time when 'big name' shows were one of the major attractions for visitors to the town. The 'Brit' has soldiered on since then and still hosts variety shows although the days of named stars appearing for weeks on end has long since vanished.

Photo:Britannia Pier in the 1950's

Britannia Pier in the 1950's

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Britannia Pier, 2002-3

Britannia Pier, 2002-3

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Britannia Pier, 2002-3

Britannia Pier, 2002-3

Great Yarmouth Museums

This page was added by Colin Stott on 15/12/2006.
Comments about this page

In the 1950s I was acting and being a general dogsbody at The Little Theatre - part of what was then The Royal Aquarium. I also worked in the office on the The Britannia Pier. I was there when Max Bygraves did his first Summer Season. He asked me to send bloaters to his family and a friend called Eric Sykes. He gave a £5 note and told me to keep the change!! I also took Anne Shelton's dogs for their morning walks when she was rehearsing for her show. Happy days - Yarmouth had style and really was GREAT then. Whatever happened to let it become what it is now. I was saddened to see how tatty Regent Road is when I visited last year.

By John Hunt
On 21/04/2009

Does anybody remember the "Fire Diver" in the sixties. Every afternoon in the summer he would throw his bucket of fuel off the side of the pier and then dive straight through it. Happy days.

By Kevan Gibbs
On 14/01/2011

Does anyone have any photo's of the Royal engineers in Gt. Yarmouth 1940 please?

By Ann Maddams
On 19/04/2011

Several years ago early to mid 80's my brothers cousins and myself had our picture taken at the large Britannia Pier metal gate by a student of the great yarmouth art school. She was doing it for a photography project would love to see it again :).

By Paul Ewing
On 19/04/2011

The Fire Diver was Rex. He had to stop as one evening the petrol splashed onto a ladies coat (spectator due to high wind and her coat also caught fire! The pier in those days was managed by John Powels who was married to Evelyne.

By Gary Catterick
On 01/04/2014

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