Birnbeck Image Slider Photo #4

The Birnbeck Island Pavilions - the First Structures

When Birnbeck Pier was first opened in June 1867, only a small wooden pavilion stood on the island. At this time a landing jetty (known as the 'pier proper') continued beyond the western end of the island for a distance of some 250-300 feet (75-90 metres), this was constructed of timber beams set on iron piles. This extension to the pier was dismantled in 1870 and was thereafter re-erected to the more sheltered northern side of the island, to become known as the North Jetty. Other small buildings and structures were rapidly added to the island to entice visitors.

A cropped enlargement from an image dated June 15th 1867 -

Birnbeck Island Pavilion 1867 01

© Phil Johnson Collection

From 1871. The two square wooden frames to the left of the pavilion were the supports for some swings.

Birnbeck Island Pavilion 1871 01

© Weston-super-Mare Library

Also from 1871 -

Birnbeck Island Pavilion 1871 02

© Weston-super-Mare Library

Image dated c. 1880 -

Birnbeck Island Pavilion c.1880 01

© Somerset Record Office

The Early East and West Pavilions

A new stone-built pavilion was opened in 1884. This was designed by locally renowned architect Hans Price.

Birnbeck Island Pavilion 1884 01

© Unknown

Image dated 1887 -

Birnbeck Island Pavilion 1887 01

© Phil Johnson Collection and Francis Frith & Co

An successive enlargement of the above image -

Birnbeck Island Pavilion 1887 02

© Phil Johnson Collection and Francis Frith & Co

By August 1892 a second pavilion, then known as the 'Birnbeck Concert Hall' and now known as the West Pavilion, had been built and opened. This was also designed by Hans Price.

The East and West Pavilions

© Phil Johnson Collection

This image shows an internal view of the East Pavilion in 1893.

Internal View - East Pavilion

© Phil Johnson Collection

On Boxing Day 1897 (which was actually on Monday 27th December) the existing pavilion, concert hall and refreshment rooms were severely damaged by a fire. Well-known local architect Hans Price was rapidly re-engaged by the directors of the pier company to design replacement structures. Construction began almost immediately, the new east and west pavilion buildings being completed and in use by the public by July 1898.

The surviving walls of the 1884 main pavilion building were re-used. The footprint of the 1898 structure, therefore, was nearly identical to the original, with the exception of the living accommodation which was expanded into the space beneath the north verandah (the original cast columns were left in situ). Two internal cast columns from the original west pavilion building were also left in place an incorporated into the new build (and remain to this day).

A painting of the fire of 1897 -


© Unknown

Next - the Pier Master's House

Return to the Education page

Return to the Home page