To a great many people, and I am here to say that I am one of them, a seaside resort cannot stake a great claim on interest or affection unless it has a pier. More perhaps than speeches or proclamations, the one fact that convinced many Englishmen in 1940 that the nation was really up against it was when detachments of Royal Engineers at every resort and with precision blew great gaps in our beloved piers so that they could not be used as landing stages by the Germans then threatening seaborne invasion.
This affection for the pier can be doubtless proved to have psycholgical implications, particularly to any Freudians left in the audience. That rigid object penetrating the loved or hostile ocean from the anchorage of the land – well, as long as you know how to spell phallus you can barely go wrong.
Anthony Hern, The Seaside Holiday : The History of the English Seaside Resort (Cresset 1967)