ArchiveInFive Artefacts No.1

The Old Pier Tolls Board

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.

New Pier Head Opened 1893

Official brass plaque commemorating the opening of the new pier head 1893. Source: Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust Archive Image: Clevedon Pier Digital Collection

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.

The photograph, below, of the 1893 opening, is probably taken from the top of the pier tollhouse. A narrow avenue in the crowd is lined with the Police and Volunteer Artillery to the right, and to the left, the Fire Brigade and dignitaries. Note the triumphal arch of foliage and flowers under which the opening ceremony took place.

1893 Reopening of the pier with a new pier head and landing stage. Source: Private Collection Image: Clevedon Pier Digital Collection

Captain Paul Boyton Advertising Bill 1875

Poster advertising Captain Boyton’s Demonstration. Source: Property of Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust Image: Pier Archivist

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 video clip gives more on the history of the rubber lifesaving suit and Captain Boyton’s role in developing and proving its worth.

Paddlesteamer Waverley Model

Model of the Campbell Paddlesteamer Waverley

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 Company Ledger

Clevedon Pier Company Ledger Source: Private Collection Image: Pier Archive Digital Collection
Clevedon Pier Company Ledger Source: Private Collection Image: Pier Archive Digital Collection

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.  More information about the legislation involved in building a pier in the 1860s can be found on this link.

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 Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust Archive team have digitised this artefact with the aim of making its contents available to the general public.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Related Pier Archive Posts

The Knoll, Chapel Hill

One of the silhouettes that is hard to miss when you’re approaching Clevedon from the south is that of Christ Church, built in 1838 and consecrated the following year. Below

Read More »

Local History from Jane Lilly

Jane Lilly has been researching, collecting and sharing the history and heritage of Clevedon for many years. Her knowledge and collections have been shared, with huge generosity, with the Clevedon

Read More »