Permission was granted to build a pier on Southsea’s Clarence Esplanade in 1852.
But it was not until December 30, 1859, that the War Office leased the foreshore above the high water mark to the Southsea Esplanade Pier Company for 99 years at an annual cost of five shillings (25p).
The company, chaired by Emanuel Emanuel, was formed with capital of £40,000.
The pier was to be named in honour of General Lord Frederick Fitzclarence, the Lieutenant Governor of Portsmouth from 1847-51. He was one of 10 illegitimate children of William IV and his mistress Dorothea Bland.
Following the granting of the foreshore below the low water mark on December 25, 1860, work began on the pier, which was originally just a basic square wooden structure measuring 130ft long by 45ft wide.
Clarence Pier was opened by the Princess of Wales on June 1, 1861 and immediately proved popular.
During the summer of 1862 visitors, each paying 1d to enter, generated £538 16s 8d in income. A decade later this had increased to £2,245 16s 6d and shareholders were receiving yearly dividends between six and 10 per cent.
The pier took over from Victoria Pier at Old Portsmouth as the principal point of departure for the Isle of Wight steamer services and remained so until Portsmouth Harbour station was opened on October 2, 1876. A small steam-operated crane loaded passengers’ luggage on and off the steamers.
n Pictures from the Piers of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by Martin Easdown and Linda Sage (Amberley Publishing £17.99)