At the beginning of the 19th Century the numbers of steam-packets using Southampton increased causing problems when passengers embarked or disembarked at low tide through the mud.

With the Town Quay unable to handle the volume of shipping a pier was needed and at a meeting of the Corporation in 1828 a committee was formed to establish the best way to achieve this.

The Harbour Commissioners responded to the committee and put a bill before Parliament in 1831 for the construction of a pier.

The bill was passed and work was started on the new pier by local builder William Betts with the work completed in 1833. A stone pier had been considered but at a cost of twice the amount paid for the completed wooden pier.

On July 8, 1833 a crowd of 20,000 gathered as the pier was officially opened by the Duchess of Kent accompanied by Princess Victoria.

They arrived by barge and were met at the steps of the new pier by the Mayor and Corporation where they proceeded to a marquee for refreshments. It was here that the Town Clerk asked the Duchess to name the pier which she christened "The Royal Victoria Pier" and in 1901this was shortened to Royal Pier.

An early threat to the pier was that the planned London and Southampton Railway and docks would draw business towards the Marsh with a subsequent fall in the pier's income.

Attempts were made to encourage a new Southampton and Dorsetshire Railway terminus near the pier but this did not succeed.

In the end the threat of the pier's loss of income was resolved when the Dock Company agreed to guarantee any shortfall below the £1700 annual income needed by the Pier Commissioners to pay off their £8000 debt.

Another threat to the pier was of a very different nature when within five years of opening the timbers piles of the pier were infected by a marine worm called the gribble.

The Harbour Commissioners' engineer John Doswell replaced the piles with new timbers into which closely placed large headed iron nails had been driven. It was intended that the corrosion of the iron heads would form an impenetrable barrier for the gribble.

The pier proved a great success with steamers travelling to the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and to St Malo and Le Havre in France where train connections would take passengers to many other European destinations.

A horse drawn tram was introduced in 1847 to convey passengers to the Terminus Station and in 1871 this was extended to the end of the pier and later converted into a light railway which operated up until WW1.

Starting in 1891 the wooden pier was rebuilt using iron and a pavilion added. The new gatehouse built in 1888 was extended and a new pontoon increased the number of ships that could berth at one time.

The current gatehouse used as a restaurant replaced the former gatehouse which was removed to provide rail and road access to the new docks in the early thirties.

The pier became a place of entertainment and pleasure enjoyed by the townsfolk and visitors.

The pavilion was extended and became a well supported dance venue and in the early sixties was a very popular ballroom.

The pier was closed in 1979 and sadly destroyed by fire eight years later in 1987.