Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Three Cheers For| Three Piers (3)

Oh No We Can't : Oh Yes We Can

The temporary walkway to allow pedestrian and cycle access to the "wet end" whilst the boardwalk pier as being rebuilt was only temporary ...
... being made of scaffolding poles with a plyood deck. It was well lit for night time use.
It was originally revealed that a permanent solution would not be tolerated by English Heritage. It would spoil the view of and from the Pier.

Thus there was much excitement when plans were announced to construct a permanent walkway and cycle track where the temporary work once sat. Initial artist's impressions were superb.
We were even told what colour the decking would be.
The "wider scheme" is to extend the cycleway long the coast to Appley Park.
It was all looking super and smashing with pedestrians sheltered from the icy blast and the teeming rain both often whisking from the west. 
Then doubts began to appear.
No shelter?

Then this announcement came.
No mention of cycle track.

This was finally confirms by this piece of depressing (for cyclists) news.
So now we have  half sized walkway and cycles are banned. This is confirmed by the latest plans with no green bit!
But what about the cover? Are those little shelters all that is available? Do you shelter from the monsoon and miss your ferry?

Photographs recently received from Alan (our senior IoW correspondent - he likes to br called senior although he is the only one!) show huge new beams of timber near the Pier Head ...
... and in the background, the replacement windbreak to protect rail passengers from the same icy blasts and teeming rain that, apparently, will not be provided, as previously advertised, for those on foot!
The previous wind- and rail- break seen from within the station ...
... was not really in tip top condition! Its replacement should be a bit better.

Before we leave the tramway pier, a couple of pictures of the trams snoozing peacefully at the "dry end", Ryde Esplanade station.
Note the Brickwoods Ale advert and the large sign advertising the buses of Southern Vectis.
It must have been a quiet day - no passengers! Note also the trailer/pushcart attached to the cars on the left.

And, talking of Southern Vectis, they had a sales kiosk at the Pier Head as well.
Of course, back then it wasn't all on line. There was no.line fir it to be "on". Back then, you had to suffer the crushing indignity but high reliability of talking to a real person.

But, back then, the companies wanted to encourage passengers to travel with them. Now they don't seem as interested.

Confirmation was receivd late yesterday evening from Alan that there will be NO COVER for the walkway, despite all the previously published pretty pictures.
Pity. A good quality walkway would go well with the aspirations to turn the pier into a "destination" in its own right ....
... with bars, restaurannts, entertainment and even somewhere to park your cabin cruiser.

Usual comment:-

 Next Missing Pier Road blog : Thursday 2nd February 

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Three Cheers For| Three Piers (2)

The Pedestrian Pier

Back in he 1950s and 1960s foot passenger traffic on a Summer Saturday was huge! You would find it hard to get a motor vehicle to the pier head, although, in theory it was possible! Now the motorist dominates and promenaders are restricted to a narrow walkway on the eastern side of the structure.
In 2010/2011 major renewal work was undertaken to strengthen what had now become a motorists pier with those on foot just about tolerated. The work involved replacing cross beams with new girders ...
... new lengthwise girders and some massive timber supports ...
... or the decking itself. Effectively the pier was renewed from the pile tops upward. It cost a lot of pennies and we wonder why the Wightlink ferry services is so expensive. As part of this rebuild, the tramway pier received a splendid and wide walkway for foot passengers and cyclists.
Everyone thought this was a super smashing idea and looked forward to its permanence and an ongoing safer stroll up the pier.

But the tram pier planking was removed as soon as the main pier was complete. We were told that English Heritage would not approve the conversion of the dilapidated tram pier into a walkway as "it would detract from the Victorian original".

The rotting tram pier was a far worse detraction!

In tomorrow's blog shall see the new walkway soon to open (in 2023) on the tramway pier. Porky pies in 2010/11?

Now it is the turn of the railway pier, the last of he three to arrive.

The Railway Pier
Once upon a time Ryde Pier Head had four platforms, originally three with a fourth (far right) added later.
Platform 4 was last in first out and its remains can still be seen.
In recent years platform 2 has been covered over ...
... leaving a two-sided platform 3, now renumbered 2.
This platform is, effectively, disused as is the eastern track along the full length of the pier.
Access to Platform 2 at Ryde Esplanade is now blocked off and the platform replaced by flowerbeds ...
... BUT ...
... a working signal forlornly waits for ever for trains that will never run.

Once again, the piles are in good condition ...
... it's the stuff on top that is rotting.

Now here is the daft thing. The Island Line has only recently re-opened after a major refurbishment to accommodate the new class 484 ex Underground trains. This work overran drastically. So to welcome back the Island's rail service, the line up the pier is now closed from October 2022 to "Spring" 2023 - whatever that means.

Wouldn't it have made sense to do both "big jobs" at the same time?

This is what they  say about the present closure.
Sounds expensive again!

Island Line has produced a leaflet giving full (overfull?) details ...
... including a shuttle bus from Esplanade to Pier Head. Here is part of the timetable.
The result of the shuttle bus provision is that any through passengers using rail and ferry will have 30 minutes added to their journey time.

So the result of all this money's being spent on the pier may well be a further reduction in ferry traffic, higher fares and a steady decline in the "classic" passenger only route.

Of course this all comes soon after a massive rebuild of the Portsmouth Harbour ferry terminal ...
... to stop the ceiling falling in; and ...
... to prevent passengers' falling through the floor and thus taking sn unexpected dip.

Necessary but costly work, fbb thinks.

Tomorrow, the tramway pier.

 Next Three-Pier blog : Wednesday 1st February 

Monday, 30 January 2023

Three Cheers For Three Piers (1)

Dateline 1814

Ryde (Isle of Wight) was graced with the very first "pleasure pier" in the world; although this claim depends very much on you definition. The main purpose of the pier was to allow passengers to access Ryde from boats. Before that it was a case of being helped off a boat by a burly "porter" and walking up the slightly soggy sands. Tow boats were also used. In 1833 the pier was extended to allow bigger vessels access.

Dateline 1864
This was a big year for transport in Ryde. The proper steam railway opened from the south as far as Ryde Railway Station - which is now called St Johns Road. To connect boats at the pier with the station a tramway was constructed. This involved an additional pier to the east of the boardwalk pier for foot passengers.
Photographs of the tramway once it left the pier are rare, if not simply unavailable. But the route can be traced. Here is an old map ...
This shows the later railway route from St Johns Road, but just north of the station (map centre right) a line curves off to the right. This is the route of the tramway. It passed through what is now called Cornwall Street (upper right in aerial view below) ...
... and turned left along the esplanade.

Electric trams arrived in 1866 ...
... taking their power from an outside third rail.
Petrol engines trams arrived in 1927.
On of the challenges that a teenage fbb faced in 1958 and 1959 upon arrival at Ryde Pier Head, for onwards travel to a camping holiday with a party of over 100 lads and leaders, was either to obey the leaders and walk down the pier or to surreptitiously join the queues for the tram and get a ride.
The luggage was conveyed to the esplanade by a mini-tractor hauling two or three wheeled cages unloaded by crane from the ferry.

fbb was too much of a wimp to disobey - anyway he feared missing the coach to the campsite and thus being late for dinner! So he walked wearily down the pier! By 1961 he had become a junior leader and was loading and unloading the luggage at Waterloo, Portsmouth Harbour, Ryde Esplanade and the campsite.

The ride in the back of Shiner's van was far more exciting that some boring old petrol driven tram.

But it was still weird to hear a tram changing gear!

Also dating from 1864 was the Victoria Pier (shown on the map above - for a while there were FOUR piers). This was built to receive ferries from Stokes Bay pier west of Gosport. The service was a failure but the facility remained ...
... as a pier for bathers. The tide goes out a long way at Ryde! It succumbed to storm damage and finally demolition in 1920.

Dateline 1880
The "proper"  railway found its way to Ryde Pier Head via a tunnel under the Esplanade, thus Pier number three, to the east of the tramway pier, was constructed.
In its heyday there were four platforms at Ryde Piet Head controlled by a signal box and facilitated by a wonderful scissors crossover on the approaches the the station.
All three piers, joined only by their appurtenances at both ends, still stand seen here from the Esplanade end. Amazingly the piles of piles are still basically sound; its just the bits on top that need attention.

The overall concept at the "dry end" is much the same as ever it was - only the detail has been tweaked over the years.  

The "wet end" is very different.
Here we see (looking approx north and from left to right) the walking pier, the tram pier and station, some "leisure" buildings and the canopies for the four train platforms.

Looking southbound towards the town today, it is quite hard to match the two.
Counting from left to right, the train station is reduced, effectively, to one platform; the tramway pier is just a rusty skeleton and the pedestrian pier is now prioritised for the all-conquering motorist.

The worlds oldest "pleasure" pier now lacks any semblance of traditional "pleasure". It is all about parking the car or arriving for a tight connection by train and running to catch the ferry.

In tomorrow's blog, fbb will briefly revise the demise of much of the railway pier and focus on the future of the tramway pier as it prepares for a sort-of resurrection.

Have We Really Moved On?
Roger French is now doing an alphabetical fortnightly blog on Transport Companied. (fbb thinks : why didn't I think of that?) and, after Avanti West Coast he came to Blackpool on Saturday last.

Roger was impressed that at Blackpool North station there was a display of leaflets ...
... not a full set, but better than most.

But then there was the beautifully attired travel office (sorry, Customer Centre) ...
... utterly closed to customers.
How can an award winning Council owned bus company be so dismissive of its customers, and, indirectly, its council tax paying shareholders?

 Next Three Piers blog : Tuesday 31st January