Britain’s piers generally have quite a bad time of it. Some are burnt down (accidentally or otherwise). Some are blown down (or indeed blown up). And those that aren’t blown down are sometimes mown down, by ships that found themselves on a slightly different course to the one they were supposed to be on.
Hythe Pier has not been immune to such things, but it has fared very well indeed by comparison to many other piers.
Construction on the pier started in 1879 and it opened in 1881. There were no fires. No arson attacks. No storms. No German mines. Hythe Pier, sticking out into a busy stretch of water, enjoyed a peaceful life. Yes, it had a couple of collisions, but these weren’t too bad and caused minor cuts and bruises only. In fact it wasn’t until 2003 that it was unceremoniously sliced in two by the dredger Donald Redford. The junior master of the dredger, Andrew Bartlett, was tired. He had drunk six pints of lager (which may help to explain why he was tired) and the alcohol didn’t mix that well with the prescribed drug he had also taken. Being half cut, there is a certain irony in the fact that the pier ended up cut in half. Poor old Andrew Bartlett went to jail for 8 months.
It is often the case that when piers are damaged they stay damaged. Townsfolk argue about what they should do with their broken pier. The pier waits patiently, and as it listens to these arguments it gently ages. The sea licks at its legs and the wind blows at its boards. Over time the pier becomes more and more dilapidated until the townsfolk realise that it would have been much better if they had not argued but just repaired the thing in the first place. But by then it’s too late.
Hythe Pier, however, is the exception to this rule! It was November 2003 when it was sliced in two. By January 2004, at a cost of £308,000, the pier was reopened. The reason for this, I suspect, is that Hythe Pier is not really a pleasure pier. It is more of a local infrastructure hub, boasting both a ferry landing and a train link from the head of the pier to the shore. The loss of the pier would have meant more than the loss of a bit of pleasure time for many people.
By the way, we did not take the train. We walked. Our guest walkers decided otherwise and boarded the waiting train carriage. As they did so they asked my wife if we were sure we wanted to walk when we could take the train.
“Yes,” she said cheerily. “We walk. My husband’s very anal about these things…”.
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Hythe Pier: N 50° 52.400 W 001° 23.730
Walk #67 Statistics (of which this post forms the final part):
- Date of Walk: 29 March 2014
- Walk #67 total distance covered (excluding ferry): 9.49 miles
- Coast of Britain Walk Total Distance Covered: 563.54 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!