|Clarence Pier is an amusement pier in Portsmouth, Hampshire. It is located by the Portsmouth Hovercraft terminal. Unlike most seaside piers in the UK, the pier does not extend very far out to sea, instead goes along the coast.|
The pier was originally constructed in 1861 and boasted a regular ferry service to the Isle Of Wight. It was damaged by air raids during World War II and opened in its current form in 1961.
The main entrance to the pier from the road is via a striking pavillion building with distinctive yellow and blue cladding and a small tower. This originally housed an amusement arcade and cafe although in more recent years, the upper floor has variously been used for "Pirate Pete's" indoor children's playground, a Wimpy bar and a Prize Bingo hall while the 'Golden Horseshoe' amusement arcade remains on the ground floor.
A smaller building, perpindicular but not physically joined to the main pavillion houses another amusement arcade, the "Wheel Of Fortune" and some small gift shops. The upper floor was originally used as a public house but in later years was converted intom a Jurassic-themed indoor ride.
The main funfair operates on a free admission, pay-per-ride token-based system. In the early 1980s, the amusement park was named "Fun Acres" and as well as the whole pier itself, it also took up 3500 sq metres of land or so to the North West of the Northern part of the pier. This part of the park was cleared and redeveloped as a restaurant, crazy golf course and hotel during the 1990s, therefore the park itself is significantly smaller than it used to be. The old part of the park contained a ferris wheel and ghost train among other attractions. The token booths were shaped as mushrooms.
One of the main landmarks of Clarence Pier until the mid 1990s was the Super Loop ride, since removed. The ferris wheel was also a landmark and there was a tower drop type ride at one stage. One ride which lasted the duration and remains to this day is the Skyways rollercoaster.
"Mind The Baby, Mr Bean", an episode of British TV comedy series "Mr Bean" was filmed on location at Clarence Pier (as well as other locations in Southsea). This was prior to the closure of the North Western part of the park and the closure of the Wheel Of Fortune public house. The episode shows the Super Loop, Skyways roller coaster, Super Loop and many of the park's other attractions from that time.
A new observation wheel will be built in front of Clarence Pier, it will be called the Solent Eye and will be 150ft tall.