It’s far from the end of the pier show as the original celebrates 200 years

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IT IS the original seaside pier that showcased the triumphs of Victorian engineering when it opened on July 26, 1814.

Ryde pier on the Isle of Wight paved the way for dozens of other up and down the country, as piers, along with fish and chips and sticks of rock, became a staple of British seaside life.

But as the years passed and with the rise of cheaper foreign flights and the decline of some resorts, many piers have been lost forever, including those in Scarborough and Withernsea.

Today the pier, owned by ferry company Wightlink, is one of the main gateways to the Isle of Wight, with trains leaving the pier-head and ferries shuttling passengers to and from Portsmouth from it.

Derek Tomlinson, volunteer co-ordinator at the Historic Ryde Society, remembers the Grade-II listed pier in its glory days of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when use of the pier was “phenomenal”.

Then, the Seagull ballroom and the First and Last pub drew in crowds, and amusements kept people entertained. He said: “It’s half a mile long and at times you would have people queuing for the boats.

“But with the introduction of cars and coaches, the number of foot passengers coming across to the island diminished.

“I have fond memories of it, going on the steam trains and the trams and attending the dances on it.

“It really did used to be the mainstay of Ryde.”

Tomorrow a party on the pier will mark the anniversary.