Close-up on the past

Close-up on the past

This picture above left, is a rare view, taken on the old Chain Pier and looking back at the buildings at the entrance. The two small ticket kiosks (now on the Palace Pier) were installed in 1871 and the road outside is Madeira Road that replaced the Chain Pier Esplanade. It is late evening and business has ceased for the day, or perhaps it is 1896 and its dangerous condition has forced the closure. To the left, the end building is the Pier Master’s cottage and what a strange building it is. The two bedrooms have verandas but is that a porch in the lower centre? The plans for this building would be so interesting and if the photographer had taken a sharper picture we could have picked up so much more. The cottage on the far right is the east toll keeper’s home occupied by John Gurr and his wife and Sarah, his wax flower making daughter. The camera obscura stands on the roof of the Bazaar. It started out on the Steine beach, then moved to the new Chain Pier before reaching this position. Customers reached it through an iron gate (still there) on Marine Parade, then down steps. I believe it was removed in 1927, having been a town attraction for over 100 years.

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