The resort of Boscombe lies just to the east of Bournemouth on the beautiful Dorset coast. The Boscombe Pier Company was formed in 1886 and, upon accepting a design by Archibold Smith, construction of the town's pier commenced in 1888. On 17th October the first pile was driven into the sea bed by Lady Shelly, daughter-in law to the famous poet. At a cost of some £12,000, the 600ft (183m) wood and iron pier was opened by the Duke of Argyll on 29th July 1889. Simply designed as a promenade deck with a landing stage at the head, Boscombe Pier was never an early success, and it was eventually sold to the Bournemouth Corporation in 1904.
Improving Boscombe Pier's facilities was essential to attract more visitors, and various buildings were erected at both the shoreward and seaward ends. A slightly unusual feature to grace the pier was the skeleton of a 65ft (19.6m) whale that had been washed up on a nearby beach in 1887. Displayed for several years, and often used as an impromptu slide by local children, the skeleton was eventually removed and ground down as fertiliser.