Compiled by Anthony Wills
HASTINGS pier is closed indefinitely. The traders on the Promenade Extension, which had remained open for business, left on 31 October 2006. The final event that night was a Hallowe’en Party held in the Gritti Palace pub. The structure is now padlocked and deserted. A well-attended meeting to discuss the pier’s plight was held in the White Rock theatre on 12 November.
It was addressed by local councillors and interested parties (Tim Wardley represented the NPS). Speaking on behalf of owners Ravenclaw Investments Mr Harmesh Pooni said they intended to carry out a full structural survey, which he hoped would be completed by Easter. Answering the Labour group’s demand that the local authority compulsorily purchase the pier and carry out repairs, the Conservative leader of Hastings Council said they had a duty to spend Council Taxpayers’ money sensibly and he would make no promises until the results of the structural survey were known. At the close of the meeting some of those present indicated that they would be interested in setting up a Friends group or charitable trust to take over the pier and apply for Heritage Lottery funds towards the cost of restoring it. Repairs to the damaged trusses are estimated to cost £1.5 million.
Work on re-planking the landing stages at BOURNEMOUTH pier is reported to be nine weeks behind schedule, making an Easter re-opening unlikely. This will also delay planned improvements to the café and theatre foyer. Meanwhile work has begun on the restoration of nearby BOSCOMBE pier, which has been closed to the public since October 2005. The toilets in the listed 1950s entrance building are being removed and eventually the east-facing half of the building will become a café with exterior seating and views over the new artificial surf reef (see November 2005 news section), while the side facing Bournemouth will be a shop selling beach goods. The work, which is being carried out by Spetisbury Construction, should be completed by late April and both units should open shortly thereafter.
Fleetwood pier is due to come under the auctioneer’s hammer on 21 February at a reported asking price of £1.3 million.
Boat landings at SWANAGE pier had to be suspended after it was discovered that the wooden pier defences known as Dolphins were being weakened by being eaten away by insects known as “gribbles”. Repairs were estimated at between £24,500 and £68,000 and the outlook for the Grade II listed pier has suddenly become bleak.
YARMOUTH (IOW) pier is similarly affected by gribbles and has submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for aid towards repair and also an educational facility.
New owner of CLEETHORPES pier Mr Kash Punghi has put in hand a £500,000 project to renew the pier legs. The estimated time for completion of the project, for which over 40 tonnes of steel has been brought to the site, is five months, the contractors having to work between tides.
FALMOUTH Prince of Wales pier has been undergoing general refurbishment over the winter, and PAIGNTON pier is set to get a new entrance building.
A £6 million regeneration bid has been submitted by Fylde Borough Council to restore the resort of LYTHAM ST ANNES to its original Victorian splendour with beach huts, boating lakes and promenade gardens. It is not know whether the privately-owned pier would benefit.
BRIGHTON Council planners have unanimously approved the construction of the i360 viewing tower next to the remains of the WEST pier. Local preservation and residents groups had lodged strong objections totalling 74 in all, with 95 letters of support from as far away as Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. The SE England Development Agency, English Heritage, the Regency Society and Tourism SE backed the scheme which will see the end section of the collapsed West pier retained and hopefully one day integrated into the development. Construction of the pod, measuring just four metres wide, is expected to start shortly. The observation deck will be four metres taller than the London Eye, and is predicted to attract 500,000 visitors a year. In the current climate of terrorism plans are being drawn up to protect the tower from attack. The West Pier Trust have applied for a Harbour Revision Order to allow for the tower’s construction.
Meanwhile the resort’s PALACE pier has been the location for two forthcoming feature films – Woody Allen’s latest (untitled) project and the movie version of Blake Morrison’s And When Did You Last See Your Father? starring Jim Broadbent.
SOUTHPORT’s pier tram had to be taken out of service for a week due to the failure of the retractable steps that push out when the tram stops, but it is now back up and running.
Stephen Bournes, owner of SOUTHWOLD pier, has used some of the money dropped by summer visitors into buckets at the bottom of Tim Hunkin’s celebrated water clock to set up a fund – the Southwold Pier Youth Scholarship – to help local youngsters go on exchange trips.
Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council is being urged to end the peak season ban on fishing off PENARTH pier and extend winter opening hours for fishermen.
There is concern in WEYMOUTH that the planned redevelopment of the Commercial pier and harbour will see the existing 1,000-seat Pavilion theatre and ballroom replaced by an inferior building. Demonstrations and marches have been held and a 4,000-strong petition was handed in to the Council planners in early November.
Following last year’s successful launch the Christmas Seaside Special ran at CROMER pier pavilion from 8 – 30 December 2006.
NPS President Gavin Henderson (who has recently retired from his post as Principal of Trinity College of Music, London) is due to give a piers talk in aid of the Blackpool Grand Theatre appeal at the Grand on Thursday 8 February starting at 2.30 p.m. (admission by donation).
The inaugural conference of the Seaside Network is to be held in Scarborough on 6-7 March. The agenda includes speeches from the Chairman of Blackpool Council, Phyllis Starkey MP, Chairman of the DCLG Select Committee Coastal Enquiry, and a debate entitled Piers and other challenging legacies.
The National Piers Society has a new Membership Secretary, Neville Taylor.
MEDIAWATCH Compiled by ANTHONY WILLS
SOUTHEND pier was featured in ITV1’s Dating The Enemy screened on 14 November.
Actor James Nesbitt was filming sequences for the forthcoming BBC1 adaptation of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde on and around BOGNOR REGIS pier in the second week of November.
The November issue of Country Life had an atmospheric two-page colour spread of BRIGHTON WEST at dusk, with a cloud of starlings coming in to roost.
Richard Attenborough’s classic film adaptation of Joan Littlewood’s Oh! What A Lovely War, filmed of course on BRIGHTON WEST pier in 1968, has at last appeared on DVD, with extra commentaries from the director and two of the cast, Corin Redgrave and Susannah York.
The Daily Telegraph Travel section on 11 November had an interesting feature by Christopher Middleton on the railways of RYDE and HYTHE piers.
Five’s new documentary series Disappearing Britain (shown in November) kicked off with an in-depth look at BLACKPOOL’s prominent role in the Wakes Week holiday tradition, with archive film of NORTH and CENTRAL piers from 1901 onwards, plus presenter Sarah Lancashire interviewing holidaymakers past and present on the piers. Also taking part was John Walton from the University of Central Lancashire.
The 30 November edition of BBC2’s Coast lingered in SALTBURN on its journey from Newcastle to Hull, with some stunning shots of the town and its pier.
SOUTHEND pier figured in several scenes of the amusing British film comedy Starter For Ten (based on David Nicholls’ novel), while 1968 shots of TEIGNMOUTH were to be seen in the award-winning documentary of Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated Round The World single-handed navigation attempt in Deep Water.