Visit Britain’s shortest pier!
Discover more about the history of Burnham-On-Sea's Pavilion, which is the UK's shortest pier
Although Burnham-On-Sea Pier is Britain’s shortest pier and comprises no more than a shoreward end pavilion on concrete piles, it is still a lovely structure that, unlike a lot of its bigger counterparts, still retains its Edwardian features and elegance.
Built between 1911-1914, it is one of the UK’s oldest illuminated seaside piers and was the first concrete structure of its kind in Europe. When it was first built, engineers from around Britain came to marvel at it.
Seaside Pier fun and refreshments
Now, it is home to fun gaming machines and refreshments with a covered shelter area at the front.
Back in the early 1900s, many locals thought that the huge tides in Bridgwater Bay would soon sweep it into the sea – but they were to be proven wrong.
This Pier was built to last!
The concrete is extremely strong and is largely made up from Granite chippings shipped from Penryn in Cornwall. This same material is used in maintenance work to this day.
According to the British Heritage Trust, the design of Burnham-On-Sea pier has associations with the famous Bristol engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), showing some similarity with the railway stations at Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa.
The pavilion stands in the centre of the esplanade and is, quite rightly, very much the central feature of Burnham-On-Sea’s pleasantly uncluttered seafront.
The original purpose of the pavilion and why no promenade deck and landing stage ever came to fruition, still remains largely unknown.
Most of the shipping in the area and the pleasure boats used the piers along the coast at Weston-super-Mare or Birnbeck.
Some believe it was simply an experiment and was never really designed for any commercial puropose.
It was left to decline over the years and at one stage there were even calls for it to be pulled down – but a public outcry saved it for posterity.
The pavilion was owned and run by Mr Harry Parkin for 49 years until December 2017. He bought what was a derelict structure in 1968. Much money and effort has been spent on restoring the building and maintaining its original features.
Today, the pier is owned by J Holland Sons entrance comprises of a selection of small shops selling food and refreshments, with the main building featuring an amusement hall.
Burnham Pier’s claim to be UK’s shortest pier
Technically, Weymouth’s Bandstand Pier is shorter… but only because most of it was deliberately blown-up by the council in 1986, and that’s clearly cheating!
Burnham-On-Sea Pier is one of five such buildings jutting out in the Bristol Channel – all of which can be seen at once from Steep Holme Island in the middle of the channel on a clear day using a good telescope or binoculars. The four other piers are at Birnbeck, Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Penarth.
Burnham’s pier continues to attract thousands of visitors throughout the year and is well worth a visit – summer or winter.
Burnham-On-Sea Pier Pavilion, The Esplanade, Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset, TA8 1BG.
Historical photos of Burnham pier and seafront