Clevedon Pier features in People's Pier study
Clevedon Pier is the subject of a study looking into Victorian seaside piers and how they fit with today's society.
The People's Pier project, which is also looking at Hastings Pier in East Sussex, is a joint scheme between the universities of Bristol and Brighton.
The £48,000 Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded study started this month and will run for 10 months.
Clevedon Pier in North Somerset is the only operational Grade I-listed pier in the country.
Dr Olu Jenzen, senior lecturer at Brighton's College of Arts and Humanities, and lead researcher, said it was important to "gain an updated understanding" of 21st Century pier culture.
"Piers are more than just metal and wood, more than treasured architectural landmarks," she said.
"They are lived experiences shaped by the mood of the time and the socio-cultural make-up of their location."
Dr Jenzen said she hoped the study would highlight "innovative ways" of using piers as urban community spaces, and to empower local communities.
Dr Nick Nourse of Bristol's department of history, who is also involved in the project, said it was important to preserve Clevedon Pier's "unique and varied" history.
"The people of Clevedon are right to be proud of their pier; it is a beautiful reminder of Victorian engineering and the then new concept of leisure," he said.
"And although the pier itself remains largely as it was when it opened in 1869, leisure, and how the pier has accommodated leisure activities, has changed many times since."
The Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust raised the funds to help rebuild and repair the 1869 pier between 1984 and 1998 after its partial collapse in 1970.
Hastings Pier, which opened in 1872, was badly damaged in a fire in 2010. It is due to reopen in 2016 following a £14m redevelopment.