SOUTHAMPTON’S former waterfront glory, the Royal Pier, much of which is now just a sad collection of burnt-out planking, was once a thriving amenity for local people with some unusual attractions.

Although the distinctive gatehouse has recently undergone a facelift there is nothing left today to recall the earlier times when Sotonians would stroll along the pier’s wooden decking or idle away a few hours in one of the shelters in the summer.

How many people remember the strange pile of boulders that stood not far from the gatehouse turnstiles that were always a favourite stopping off point with youngsters keen to clamber over the stones?

The boulders stood there for years and were typical of several thousand similar stones dredged up in 1929 from the River Test channel leading to the New Docks, now called the Western Docks.

It seems the boulders were natural formations that formed part of Southampton’s geology that was known as the Bracklesham Beds, that lay about 50 feet below the Royal Pier’s decking.

In 1961 another curio arrived at the pier after decades spent keeping ships safe from going aground on the British coastline.

The optical system of the old Eddystone Lighthouse was given to Southampton when it was replaced with modern equipment.

Lenses, light and revolving gear were dismantled into hundreds of separate parts then shipped from Penzance to Southampton where it was put together again before going on show at the Royal Pier.

The Eddystone Lighthouse took two years to build and started operating in 1824 and was used until the early 1960s. After arriving in Southampton the Eddystone light was put on display next door to the Supermarine S6 seaplane that is now on display at the city’s aviation museum, Solent Sky.