Brass Plaque commemorating the building and opening of the new pier head and landing stage.

By 1893, Clevedon Pier – now owned and operated by the Clevedon Local Board – had fixed one of the main problems to its commercial success by building a new pier head and landing stage. More info on this link. This enabled paddlesteamers to call in and cater to the growing Victorian seaside holiday ambitions of the town of Clevedon.

The opening took place with a great celebration and the placing of a plaque, shown above, to commemorate the event. There are two plaques held in the archive – one which was on the pier for many years and is quite worn by decades in the sea air and the other – shown above which is in pristine condition. Both are beautiful items, in their own way, to be held in our collections.

Hand made sign board showing Pier tolls. Circa 1940/1950. Donated by: R.Gregory

Another favourite from the collections is this board laying out admission charges referred to as Pier Tolls. The notice board is made from what appears to be a cut down garden gate, painted green and handpainted with the charges for entry on to the pier. Donated by R Gregory the date isn’t known but possibly the board is from the 1940s or 1950s. It is 4’6″ high and 3″ wide and a very heavy thing to move around.  The prices listed include for day and season tickets for adults and children; for taking a dog or cycle or motorcycle onto the pier as well as for fishing off the pier. It is made clear, in very large letters, at the lower part of the board that if you were using the pier to board a steamer you still had to pay the pier toll of 6d for the day. Clevedon Pier, built with the express purpose of enabling paddlesteamers to come to the town to encourage tourists, still needed to make a living in its own right.

This advertising bill comes from August 1875 when, the global phenomena known as, Captain Boyton demonstrated his rubber life saving dress off of Clevedon Pier. It is a favourite item in the archive’s collection of ephemera. The bill is printed on very thin newsprint by George Caple, Machine Printer, in the Clevedon Mercury and Courier newspaper offices and it is one of the few – perhaps only – surviving examples of this advertising bill many of which would have been printed and posted up and around the town of Clevedon. The bill shows an image of Captain Boyton in his life saving ‘dress’ (sic) and text states that: Captain Boynton will exhibit off the Clevedon Pier the life saving vest in which he recently crossed the Channel from France to England.  Excursions will run. The gallant Captain will be in the water from Three to Four and from Seven to Eight pm In 1875, the pier was still owned by the Clevedon Pier Company and other records held in the Pier’s Business Archive show that Captain Boyton was charged £10 for the privilege of exhibiting his suit off Clevedon Pier, the equivalent in today’s terms of just over £1,000.

This beautiful model of the Paddle Steamer Waverley, held in the Archive collections and kept on display in the Pier Manager’s Office, is a lovely reminder of the Pier’s long history and heritage connections with pleasure cruisers and holiday visitors. The archive holds many items to do with its heritage links with paddle steamers – particularly to do with the Campbell Company – and liaised with the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society when work began on the Pier’s paddle steamer collection. We are grateful to the many people who have donated, given information and supported that work including descendants of the Campbell family. But particular thanks must go to Volunteer Archivist Mike who worked so diligently sorting, storing and cataloguing the Pier’s paddle steamer collection.

The Clevedon Pier Mutoscope or What the Butler Saw Device is one of the items in the Pier’s collection which is fun and so reminiscent of Victorian Seaside history.

And held in the archive is a naughty extra bit of fun and history to do with the Mutoscope and what the butler actually saw!!

To find out more go to this link.

There were many attempts to ‘get going’ with building a pier in Clevedon. The first verifiable record is an advertisement from November 1828, in the Bristol Mirror, offering Ten Guineas to Surveyors for the most approved Plan, Specification and Estimate for building a Pier in Clevedon. It wasn’t until the 1860s, however, that the Clevedon Pier Company finally got underway. The ledger, shown above, covers the records of the Clevedon Pier Company from 1864 onwards. The first entry is on the 18th October 1864 and contains information about the success of the application to the government, under the Piers and Harbour Act, to build a pier. This fascinating ledger contains the minutes of meetings, records of the sale of shares, information about acquiring permission to build Clevedon Pier, the letting of contracts to engineers and surveyors and so on and so on. The last entry is on  10th February 1888

The Old Phone Intercom We believe that this wall mounted wooden-cased phone was used as one of a pair on the pier, for communication between the tollhouse and the pier head. The only wiring on this type of telephone was that between the handset and the box itself. This system was used from the 1870s onwards for telephones that were not on an exchange serviced by a common battery, ie, when each personal telephone had its own battery. The crank handle on the side would work a magneto inside the box, and this would ring a bell or activate a buzzer on the other phone. The person hearing the alert could then pick up the phone at the other end and find out what was wanted. This type of phone was very useful on the old railway systems, where for instance the stationmaster needed to contact the signalman regarding train services or changes in times, etc. Jane Lilly local historian thinks it likely this phone, from the pier, was repurposed for a similar use between the tollhouse and pierhead.

The Model That Helped Save The Pier. When the Pier collapsed in 1970 the town of Clevedon pulled together to save it from total demolition.  This model was commissioned by Clevedonians, Tony and Carole Wring,  to show the Pier Public Inquiry the beauty and value of the Pier and it undoubtedly helped in the decision being made that the Pier should be saved.   Tony was, at that crucial time in the Pier’s history the Chairman of the Pier Preservation Trust. The model has now been donated to the Archive and is on permanent display at the North Somerset Offices, Castlewood, Clevedon.

Las Vegas one armed bandit.

Once part of a group of one armed bandits that graced the dance hall at the end of the pier in the 1960s. When the pier was closed in 1970, because of the collapsed span near the pierhead, all of these gaming machines were taken off and most found new homes elsewhere. This little beauty stayed hidden in the basement of the Tollhouse where it became rusty and crusty and even more loveable. When it came into the Archive it was found to contain several Victorian pennies – some showing Queen Victoria as girl with a bun and ribbon in her hair and others ….. well, not as a girl with a bun in her hair.

The Clevedon Pier Mutoscope

Or the……What The Butler Saw device.

What Victorian seaside visitor wouldn’t enjoy have a peep to find out what the butler saw. For more information go to this link: