The year that Three Men in a Boat
was published, 1889, saw the opening of a new iron pier at Southend-on-Sea
, to replace the old, wooden one. It extended far out into the Thames Estuary, beyond the mudflats, and here passenger boats were able to dock. It proved so popular with tourists that an extension was constructed a few years later. At 1.34 miles, it is now the longest pleasure pier in the world, and two trains carry passengers up and down. One of these is named after Sir John Betjeman, who declared that ‘the Pier is Southend, Southend is the Pier’. A Pier Museum
is full of nostalgic exhibits, and the pier itself is a Grade II listed building, but over the years it has suffered many setbacks, including several fires.