PART of the remains of Southampton's historic Royal Pier has collapsed into the water this morning.
Parents and children enjoying the half term holiday at Mayflower Park were among those looking on as a large section of the derelict structure fell into Southampton Water shortly before 10am.
About a 30 metre section from the middle of the old pier has collapsed into the sea.
A couple from Bristol visiting their daughter at University of Southampton Gordon and Christine Molyneux watched the drama unfold as they were enjoying the views in their car.
Christine, 65, said: "Gordon was asleep at the time and I was looking out across the water then I heard what sounded like when they send the boom out for life boats.
"There were two enormous booms within just seconds of each other. When I first heard it I thought someone must have detonated something. I just had no idea what it was.
"Then there was a terrific tipping of stuff which went crashing down into the water. There were two drops of the pier, one side then the other, and a huge plume of water then came shooting out when it reached the water."
Husband Gordon, 64, who was sleeping at the time, woke up to the pier crashing down.
He said: "It was like a huge tipper offloading rubble and hardcore. The strange thing was the water was so calm. There was no wind, the sun is shining. I don't know what triggered it."
Southampton residents enjoying the views spoke of their sadness that a piece of history is destroyed.
Alan Broughton, 48, from Millbrook, who was visiting Mayflower Park, said: "I cannot believe it has collapsed. You can see the rails poking up through the water.
"It is such a shame. I remember when there was a good dancing club at the bottom.
"I think they will have to pull it down now. It's a bit of history gone under."
Staff from Associated British Ports were immediately on site assessing the situation.