Notes: The Victoria Pier (as then named) opened by Princess Victoria (just before she became Queen) in 1833 and with the opening of Southampton railway Station in 1840 passengers were conveyed to the pier steamers by horse drawn omnibus. The pier was used by steamers to the Channel Islands, Le Havre and the Isle of Wight.
A tramway from Southampton station (renamed Southampton Docks in 1858) to the Town Quay had been laid down by 1847, The tramway connected to the the LSWR main line via a wagon-turntable, so passenger carriages could not access it. In 1864 a floating pontoon and bridge were incorporated at the angle of pier neck and head. The tracks were extended to a new station on the pier in 1871 with a new direct connection at Southampton Docks station allowing trains to run through and on to the pier with between 5 and 7 trains a day. The construction of the station required the removal of the floating pontoon. The LSWR had leased the horse drawn tramway since 1851 and sought to run a steam service from the Docks station and, despite much opposition from vested interests, the service began in September 1876 with a speed limit of 5mph although the station didn't appear in public timetables until January 1891. In 1896 Southampton Docks was renamed Southampton Town (for Docks).
Royal Pier and station in 1888
Initially, the pier station consisted of just a single open wooden platform with a run round loop for the loco, but when the pier was substantially rebuilt and enlarged in 1892, a new station was constructed with two platforms, each complete with canopies opening on 2nd June 1892; a pier head pavilion was added in 1894.
Photographic evidence suggests that early services used both platforms but subsequently, only the westerly platform was used in operations. After the turn of the century passenger numbers began to decline, and the service was suspended from the autumn of 1913, although partially reinstated the following spring.
Royal Pier and station in 1918
The station and track had badly deteriorated by the outbreak of WWI and passenger services officially ceased on 1st October 1914 but some troop movements were carried out during the hostilities.
Southampton Town (for Docks) station was renamed Southampton Terminus in 1923
It seems that sometime after the war a ship had collided with the pier and damaged the already semi derelict infrastructure and track. The cost of restoration was considered too costly and most of the railway, including the station, was removed in the early 1920s but despite the loss of the railway the busy Red Funnel ferry routes continued to flourish. The pier pavilion was extended in 1922 and a new domed pier entrance building was added in 1930.
By 1979, the pier was becoming unsafe and was not economic to maintain and it closed in 1982. Plans to rejuvenate the pier were formulated and the Victorian entrance was restored, and re-opened as a pub/restaurant in 1986. Further regeneration was cut short in 1987 when a serious fire completely destroyed the pavilion and bandstand at the pier head. A subsequent fire in 1992 destroyed much of the pier neck and caused serious damage to the conservatory at the rear of the gatehouse.
Today the pier remains as a charred ruin although there have been numerous plans to restore it and in November 2007 a mixed-use development of housing, shops, bars and restaurants was proposed. So far the 1930 entrance building has been restored reopening as Kuti's Thai Restaurant but no other restoration work has started.
For more pictures of Southampton Road Pier see Simplon Postcards web site.
See also Southampton Terminus & Northam