Compiled by Anthony Wills
The DCMS has announced that the first recipients of its Sea Change awards are BLACKPOOL, DOVER and TORBAY. These resorts will receive £4 million each for seafront regeneration and can choose individual projects to spend the money on, but they have to raise matching sums from other sources in order to qualify for the government grants. The £3 million remaining for this year will be allocated to a number of smaller applications. The closing date for Wave One applications was 30 June. Wave Two applications need to reach CABE by 30 January 2009. All applications must be submitted via local authorities. For further information visit www.cabe.org.uk/seachange
WESTON GRAND held its official reopening ceremony under new ownership on April 19/20. All the children’s rides were free and entertainers including a jazz band, fire-eater and stilt walkers were on hand. In what is viewed as a contentious move the pier has now been granted a licence to sell alcohol drinks.
YARMOUTH (IOW) pier was officially reopened on 26 April by Alan Titchmarsh, who had been Patron of the fundraising appeal. The Grade II listed structure received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for repair and refurbishment. A marquee was erected in Pier Square to house a photographic archive and a firework display was held that evening. There were activities for children on the Saturday and older people on the Sunday and the Joybelle ran boat trips from the pier head.
BOSCOMBE pier reopened to the public on 23 May after refurbishment costing £2.4 million. Admission is free and free deckchairs are being provided until new permanent benches have been installed. A heritage display is being erected along the windbreak. The Grade II listed entrance building will be fitted out by a private contractor in time for Easter 2009. The pier terminates in an 18 square metre viewing platform which is much used by fishermen. A new supporters group, Inspieration, has been formed.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded Urban Splash (South West) £80,000 towards essential repairs to WESTON-SUPER-MARE BIRNBECK.
Ambitious plans costing £39 million have been unveiled to rebuild MUMBLES pier in South Wales by selling off land for the construction of a 150-bed 4-star hotel and spa complex, plus conference and exhibition centre. The hotel would be built into the rock with a top-floor reception. Pier owners AMECO have lodged outline plans with Swansea Council, who are keen to see the area upgraded.
Improvements to CLEETHORPES pier have been announced, including a new look for the Waterfront Bar, new balcony areas and daytime shopping along the exterior.
Thieves broke into the tackle shop on COLWYN BAY VICTORIA early in March and stole a number of fishing rods. Meanwhile pier owner Steve Hunt has been in dispute with Conwy County Borough Council over alleged non-payment of Council Tax.
The Birdman Rally, which had to be cancelled after Bognor pier was shortened by 60ft. on safety grounds, was staged on WORTHING pier during the weekend of 5/6 July. The event’s Chairman, Barry Jones, resigned over the change of venue.
P.S.Waverley was out of action during May and the first half of June after the discovery of a loose port paddle shaft. This meant cancelling her planned sailings out of CLEVEDON and PENARTH end of May/early June. M.V.Balmoral operated to a revised timetable which gave these two piers alternative sailings over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. Any chance of the ships calling at LLANDUDNO pier in the near future were dashed after the destruction of the fenders in the spring storms.
More tombstoning tragedies: a 20-year old man from Waterlooville has been paralysed from the waist down after jumping off SOUTHSEA SOUTH PARADE pier. Another man who jumped off EASTBOURNE pier had to be rescued by lifeguards and taken to hospital suffering from a head wound and two broken ribs. A couple of weeks later a drunken man leapt off the same pier and was rescued by lifeguards.
Unlucky BOGNOR REGIS pier was hit by arson during the night of 28/29 April. A passer-by saw flames coming out of a storage room at the back of the arcade building and alerted the fire brigade. The fire was started in a plastic wheelie bin full of paper being saved for recycling. Major damage to the structure was averted. The following day police arrested a 32-year old Bognor man on suspicion of starting the blaze.
Marine Awareness North Wales have taken over the two Victorian kiosks halfway down BANGOR GARTH and filled them with posters, leaflets and hoardings offering an insight into the wildlife around and below the pier.
It has emerged that the owners of SOUTHSEA CLARENCE have for the past two years been paying Portsmouth City Council £12,500 a year to keep travelling fairs that might compete with their arcades at peak holiday times off Southsea Common. This secret arrangement has now been overturned and Russell’s Travelling Fair will be visiting the common this summer. Meanwhile the tea dances that have for years been held in the Gaiety Suite on neighbouring SOUTHSEA PARADE pier have moved to a new home at Buckland Community Centre. But the pier’s Albert Tavern has been given a makeover with new carpets and flooring with the aim of attracting families, and owners Six Piers say further improvements to other areas of the pier are in the pipeline.
The asking price for LOWESTOFT CLAREMONT pier has been reduced from £2.8 million to £2 million. The back of the arcade has been re-clad in order to match the rest of the building. For further information contact Paul Scott on 01502 573533. Lowestoft’s Airshow takes place on the seafront on 24 July with a free firework display on SOUTH pier at 9.30 p.m. and the Honda Power Boat Grand Prix two days later.
Contrasting opinions on BRIGHTON: while Coast magazine recently rated the resort third best seaside town in the UK, a new Rough Guide to England calls its seafront ugly, with PALACE pier described as “tacky”.
Having up till now concentrated on Grades I and II* listed buildings, English Heritage has begun a three year project, Heritage At Risk, to survey Grade II structures, of which there are more than half a million.
Coast magazine has been running a campaign to save the Great British Postcard. With the advent of email and text messages (plus rising postal charges) the number sent has apparently declined by 75% over the past ten years. At Portsmouth City Museum they are staging an exhibition entitled Secrets of the Saucy Seaside Postcard which tells the story of Bamforths, the largest producers of the cards. It runs until 14 September.
COLWYN BAY VICTORIA’s Summer Art Exhibition opened on 5 July and runs to 14 September. The show, which changes every two weeks, features at least 300 paintings at any one time, most on sale for £50 or less. The pier also holds weekly Craft Nights on Tuesdays from 7pm and Art Classes on Wednesday afternoons and evenings. The Pier cafe is open 7 days a week from 8am serving full English breakfasts and other snacks.
Along The Shore, an exhibition of coastal photographs taken by Stephen Cressfield, showing in the Cafe Balcony of the BRIGHTON museum and art gallery until 10 August, examines the tensions between the past and present in seaside resorts along the south-east coast of England.
The long derelict SOUTHAMPTON ROYAL pier is showing signs of renewal. The ornate “wedding cakelike” Gatehouse building (dating from 1930) has been completely restored and redecorated and was due to open as a Thai restaurant at the end of June. Southampton City Council are drawing up fresh plans for the area beyond, presently used for parking by Red Funnel ferries. A casino was once mooted for the site but is now housed in an adjacent building near the Ocean Docks Terminal. A major part of the pier neck was damaged by fire in 1992.
Dame Liz Forgan steps down from the Chairmanship of the Heritage Lottery Fund in September. Her successor will be another ex-BBC Radio chief, Jenny Abramsky, who has been with the Corporation since 1969. The HLF recently awarded £136,000 to SKEGNESS for a two-year international arts festival and cultural tourism conference in September 2009.
And finally …. the days of the pier clairvoyant may be numbered. New consumer legislation means that spiritualists could be fined or even jailed if their predictions prove to be inaccurate!
(Thanks to David Cheshire, Daphne Lewis, Tim Mickleburgh and Ken Wisdom for their contributions)