Walk the walk

Yesterday I went on a blustery and at times, soggy trip down memory lane. When I first started my nurse training in 1985 I lived in the then new nurse’s accommodation tucked behind the general hospital at Uphill in Weston Super Mare.

In those days student nurses were the slaves of the workforce. Sometimes I needed to let off steam after being bullied by the nursing assistants who believed they were in charge, being made to clean the sluice with a toothbrush or just having survived long stretches of very busy shifts (often 10 in a row).

I loved to walk the length of the beach from Uphill sands to Birnbeck Pier, it was a long enough walk to dampen down the frustrations, have a blub and to talk myself back into continuing my training. Thankfully these episodes of doubt were few and far between so often I could just enjoy the walk.

The walk yesterday was full of children chasing the tide out and dogs chasing balls. As the tide was only just going out the causeway over to the pier was quite treacherously slippery, but I made it over with no broken bones or without falling into the drink.

When I got to my destination I was saddened to see the state of the pier, I hadn’t see it for quite some years. As a child in the 1970’s I regularly visited Weston Super Mare and the pier on day trips with my grandparents, and of course I would have a little trot on it at the end of my walks during my training.

Birnbeck pier was designed by Eugenious Birch and was opened in 1867, it is the only pier in the country to link the mainland with an island, Birnbeck Island. Since 1882 it was the base for the RNLI to launch their rescue boats as it is the only location for launching in any tide. Unfortunately due to safety they had to relocate in 2016.

This grade 2 listed pier has been closed to the public since 1994 and it’s been placed on the “at risk” register compiled by British Heritage as it’s in a very poor state of disrepair.

But all is not lost, rumour has it that the RNLI may potentially take back ownership of the pier and hopefully restore it to it’s former glory. In addition to this there is the fundraising organisation called Friends of the old pier, that are working very hard to help achieve this aim.

I really hope that the old pier can be restored and then maintained so it doesn’t get in such a state again. You never know who might visit, after all it was good enough for the Beatles in 1963!

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