The original Southwold Pier, which was 810ft long, was built in 1900 as a landing stage for the Belle steamships that travelled from London Bridge.
Until the early 1930s most holidaymakers travelled by sea and Southwold was a favourite destination. However, as the roads improved, the steamships lost business and Belle bought coaches instead.
In 1934, the T-shaped landing stage was swept away in a violent storm and never replaced. Three years later the timber buildings at the shoreward end were replaced with a two-storey pavilion complete with concert hall and amusement arcade.
At the outbreak of World War II, engineers exploded a section of the Pier to prevent a German landing. To make matters worse, a drifting sea mine struck the Pier in 1941, destroying a further section. Both holes were repaired in 1948, but in 1955, the Pier, in a much-weakened state, was hit by a storm which washed away the end half.
In 1979, another storm reduced the length of the Pier to only 60ft.
In 1987, the Pier was privately bought and work to rebuild it started in 1999 making new legs with the latest piling techniques. In 2001, the work was completed with the pier reaching its current length of 623 feet. It was named Pier of the Year in 2002 and is Britain’s only 21st Century Pier.
In 2005, the Pier was bought by Stephen and Antonia Bournes and became a family-run business. The Bournes made many imaginative, radical and quirky improvements. They continued to re-invest each year to make this the most loved and truly 21st century Pier in the country.
In 2013, Gough Hotels, a Suffolk owned family business, took over the ownership of the Pier, and are continuing to improve on the changes made by the Bournes.