Image: Steve Garrington
A giant wave crashes against Porthcawl Pier in South Wales during a winter storm, sending a statuesque torrent of water up into the air.
All images are copyrighted and used with permission of the photographers
Whoosh! As the massive wave unleashes its fury, the onlookers instinctively duck their heads, even those stood safely on the boardwalk. However, the pier takes the brunt of the wave’s force, and while it was erected well over a hundred years ago, it’s still standing strong.
Apart from providing ships with a place for docking, piers – particularly those designed for pleasure – are great places for taking a stroll. Rather confusingly, more solidly constructed breakwaters are also commonly referred to as piers, but unlike their raised and supported counterparts, breakwaters perform an important defensive function, protecting coastlines against the force of waves. Yet whether built of stone or propped up by pillars or piles, come rain, hail or snow, these structures stand their ground. We’ve found 15 photos of steadfast piers and breakwaters getting pummeled by the ocean but not succumbing to Nature’s might.
The majority of the structures shown here can be found in England and Wales, which is fitting, really. England’s first recorded pier, Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight, was opened in 1814, and there’s a countrywide tradition stretching back to the 19th century of piers being built for pleasure, or else used for fishing or other work such as the loading and unloading of cargo.
Image: Mike Lastra
This incredible image shows a huge wave smashing head-on into a pier. The effect is stunning, yet the lone visitor seems unfazed, holding their ground despite the massive surge of water shooting up in front of them.
Whereas piers, properly speaking, have traditionally served a variety of purposes – be they leisure or commercial – breakwaters have a different but definitely no less important function. For one, they protect the coast from the weather, and from sediment washed along by the wind and the ocean’s drift. What’s more, by taking the first hit, breakwaters reduce the intensity of waves, thus protecting harbors and doing their bit to reduce coastal erosion.
This huge wave smashing into Roker Pier, in North East England, resembles some kind of ferocious beast that’s intent on swallowing the structure whole. There doesn’t seem to be much chance of that happening any time soon, though: the pier was built in 1846, and so has been standing for 166 years to date. It also looks sturdy enough to weather a few more storms to boot!