Pier & Toll House
Medium: Photographic print
"The Pier. - Which is really elegant, and forms a delightful addition to the walks round Weston, was opened for use in June, 1867. With the exception of the broad wooden roadway, and the wooden line of seats running its whole length on either side, the fabric is built entirely of iron, with open archways, of which the suppporting shafts are bolted firmly into the limestone rock. It was thus constructed, in order to offer as little obstruction as possible to the strong current which flows and ebbs between Birnbeck and the mainland. Twice, in former years, were attempts made to build a pier in this place, and both attempts failed, because their supports being stone pillars, the necessarily huge masses of masonry offered such a surface of resistance to the waves that they were speedily swept away. The engineer was ruined, the hopes of the speculator were crushed...But pause for a moment and scan the scene of these disasters. Birnbeck itself, a wild islet, is now surrounded by a wall built along the crest of the rocks, which thus incloses all the level ground they afford. On the north-east of the island stands a substantial wooden jetty, with stages of perforated iron at different levels, so that boats and steamers may land their passengers and goods at all times from an hour before or after flow and ebb tide. To the right, as one approaches the jetty, a narrow wicket allows people to scramble down the rocks to the shingly beach below. Between it and the mainland is a rough road, called the Stepway, which in less civilized days was the only access to the island, unless indeed some adventurous Leander desired to imitate the example of the celebrated Birnbeck cow, whose practice it was to swim across the stormy water from her pasture to her expectant milkmaid and back again."
Text from the book 'Weston-Super-Mare Illustrated' by Lawrence Brothers, 1891
This is the fifth in a series of 16 cabinet card views of the town published in the book 'Weston-Super-Mare Photographed.' In the 1880s Cabinet Card photographs completely replaced the smaller carte de visite format. As the name suggests, the cabinet image was large enough to be displayed on a side table or bureau. They remained in vogue until the turn of the century when they were superseded by the photographic picture postcard.