The Royal Pier dates back to 1833, when it was opened by the Duchess of Kent and the then Princess Victoria. The pier was originally christened ‘The Royal Victoria Pier’, later shortened.
At the time, it was the first pier in Southampton, and was used by steamers to and from the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands, and Le Havre in France. Before the pier was built, passengers would have to wade through mud at low tide to and from the shore.
In 1891, a new section of the pier was built, expanding its capacity, this including a pavillion near the middle of the pier. The Gatehouse building was built at the entrance to the pier, in order to accommodate ticket sales for the ships.
The pavilion was enlarged in 1930, and the Gatehouse was rebuilt, this is when it became the ornate dome we know today. In 1963, the Pavilion was expanded to create a ballroom. It was one of Southampton’s most popular dance and music venues, with musicians and DJs playing every night to packed audiences.
The Pavilion was used as a dance hall up until 1979 when the pier was deemed unsafe and was closed along with the Gatehouse.
The Gatehouse building briefly saw use as a restaurant in 1986, however a section of the Royal Pier and the Ballroom was destroyed in a fire in 1987, with another fire in 1992 severely damaging the Gatehouse Building, which was subsequently abandoned.
The Gatehouse of the Royal Pier is now a Grade II listed building. The Royal Pier itself has unfortunately been left to deteriorate, however, the Royal Pier’s Gatehouse building has been recently restored to its former glory, by Mr Kuti Miah.
Kuti’s Brasserie occupies the downstairs of the Royal Pier’s Gatehouse building, and is currently the best Indian Restaurant in the UK. The upstairs is home to Gatehouse 1833, another fine restaurant serving British cuisine with a modern stylish flair.
With the top quality food and drink options, as well as one of the best views in Southampton, this beautiful building is a piece of the city’s history, but is well and truly thriving in the present.