“Dancing on the pier
start the weekend here
Friday best, no Sunday dress
and bring your dancing shoes” (The Men They Couldn’t Hang)
Birnbeck Pier opened in 1867 and enjoyed a chequered existence, coping with fire, storms and accidental strikes from drifting marine equipment, though maybe the biggest threat was to come from the building of a rival pier in the centre of town.
The pier was requisitioned by the Admiralty during the war for testing secret weapons (including the bouncing bomb). The whole site lies derelict now, though a lifeboat station is maintained on Birnbeck Island.
In the heyday of the pier, people used to arrive by steamer from South Wales or Clevedon, rarely leaving the delights of the island. These days the illegitimate visitor needs to be mindful that sometimes even low water isn’t sufficient to expose the access causeway, and the journey out seems to take far longer than expected. Exploring is a fairly urgent affair, the alternative being an enforced bivvy on the island, or a gnarly climb out over razor wire and likely as not, a difficult interview with the emergency services.