Compiled by Anthony Wills
The Society’s First Patrons
The broadcaster and writer Gyles Brandreth and the distinguished actor Timothy West CBE have agreed to become the Society’s first Patrons. Gyles Brandreth said “As a long standing member of the NPS and lover of piers I am delighted to accept this kind invitation, which makes me feel like pier royalty!”
Clacton Pier Sold
CLACTON pier has been sold by E. & M. Harrison Ltd. to amusement operators Billy and Elliot Ball. The new owners, who celebrated their acquisition with a fireworks display on 12 April, have pledged to install new attractions on the pier, including a helter-skelter, and to reintroduce all night fishing.
HASTINGS, GREAT YARMOUTH and SOUTHPORT are three of the four resorts benefiting from the latest tranche of Government support as part of its Sea Change scheme, administered by CABE (Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment). Hastings will receive £2 million to finance an artist designed piazza, performance space and community cultural centre as a prelude to the building of the Jerwood Gallery on the seafront area of the Old Town (some way along from the pier). Great Yarmouth is getting £3 million to regenerate the historic Deneside area of the town (not part of the seafront). Southport receives £4 million for another town centre project, this time to protect the heritage around Lord Street and will include a new theatre, museum and popular music venue. The fourth resort is Bridlington which benefits from £3 million towards redesigning the promenade area surrounding the recently refurbished Royal Hall and Spa Theatre.
Following the rejection of their original application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, PENARTH Arts & Crafts is submitting a less ambitious bid with 47% of the cost coming from other sources. The proposal has the support of the local MP and local authorities. The NPS will be holding its Annual General Meeting in Penarth on Saturday 13 June.
Still on HLF rejections, the Stage 1 application by the Friends of HASTINGS pier has also been turned down, but talks are proceeding between the Fund, the Trust and Hastings Council. To see a clip from a film about the pier made by Official Productions, visit the Friends of Hastings Pier website.
Construction of the i360 facing the derelict BRIGHTON WEST pier has been postponed due to the current economic climate.
LOWESTOFT Claremont has been taken off the market and further improvements are being made to the shoreward end nightclub, café and amusements, though the days of the neck would seem to be numbered.
The owner of TEIGNMOUTH pier is currently enlarging its main pavilion, for which planning consent was given in 2002.
The plans for the replacement pavilion at WESTON-SUPER-MARE GRAND were passed by North Somerset Council in March, meaning that construction of the winning design can go ahead. The previous building was totally destroyed by fire last July.
The Daily Mail carried a bleak picture of the deserted end of SOUTHEND pier to illustrate its correspondent’s report in the issue of 13 January that the town was “cold, wet and shut”.
Almost exactly one year to the day after the Greek registered Ice Prince sank in rough seas off Portland Bay the Russian vessel Sinegorsk, en route from Sweden to Egypt, shed approximately 1,500 tonnes of its load of wood near the port of Newhaven during the night of 19 January. The wood washed up in last quantities on Kent beaches, quickly attracting looters from near and far.
A “multi-agency” drop-in was carried out at CLEETHORPES pier on 23 January to ensure the safety of hundreds of teenagers attending an Under 18s event. The visit by Council officials, police and fire inspectors was part of Operation Tusac, the aim of which is to highlight the dangers of under-age drinking in the resort. Robbie Marklew, the pier manager, has appealed to parents to collect their children when the shows end at 9.30 p.m. He said agreement had been reached to restrict numbers to 900 and to search all those attending.
Co-incidentally expansion plans for the pier have been announced, ranging from a first-floor glass-fronted café/bistro overlooking the estuary, a terrace on the flat area of the roof, outdoor seating areas sheltered by Perspex screens and a new staircase from the end of the pier down to the beach. Cleethorpes was shortlisted for this year’s Pier of the Year competition and came fifth.
The Daily Express published a list of its Top 5 Piers at the beginning of the year: they were SALTBURN, DEAL, CLEVEDON, PENARTH and BURNHAM-ON-SEA (three of them Pier of the Year winners).
In a reflection of the heavy snowfall that affected parts of Britain on 2 February, the Sunday Times carried a stunning picture of an ice-clad BRIGHTON WEST pier in its Review section. The paper also reported that Britain is to cease nominating historic sites to the United Nations for World Heritage Site classification. There are currently 24 sites in the UK including Durham Cathedral, Stonehenge and the Hadrian’s Wall. One disappointed town will be BLACKPOOL, which had put itself forward as the first working-class seaside resort in the world.
An elderly man jumped left his mobility scooter at the end of CROMER pier and jumped to his death on 12 February. Another man who climbed down the fishing platform at the end of EASTBOURNE pier on 24 February was rescued by the local lifeboat crews, who risked their own safety by entering the freezing water.
A local BLACKPOOL landmark, Yates’ Wine Bar in Clifton Street near the NORTH pier, was badly damaged in a fire in the early hours of the morning of 15 February. The Sun reported in its 5 March issue that a 21-year old man had been arrested on suspicion of arson. The pier itself was unaffected.
In a thoughtful Times article entitled Seaside Towns – The Last Resort For Frivolous Fun published on 16 February, journalist Libby Purves argued that regeneration money such as the Sea Change awards should not be directed at “projects that middle-class arts graduates on committees approve of”, but should help “bring back the pizzazz to the exhausted British seaside”. She was reporting from Showzam, BLACKPOOL’s second festival of circus and variety, which attracted the crowds.
Low tides and sand-shifting currents to the east of the pier have temporarily uncovered the remains of the Fernebo lifeboat, which was lost off CROMER in 1917.
A sponsored soft toy bungee-jump was held on BOGNOR REGIS pier on 8 March and raised £360 in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
BLACKPOOL NORTH was the location in mid-March for scenes from an upcoming film about John Lennon’s early life. The former Beatle spent several holidays in Blackpool and Fleetwood with his aunt Mimi.
BBC2’s repeat of Coast on 17 March offered stunning aerial shots of BLACKPOOL’s present day piers plus a tantalising archive clip of MORECAMBE seafront showing the now demolished CENTRAL pier. The edition shewn on April focussed on LOWESTOFT and SOUTHWOLD.
A petition to WORTHING Council has been signed by hundreds of anglers who regularly fish from the pier, protesting at plans to disallow the activity because of the thoughtless behaviour of a few individuals. The 2009 Birdman Rally will take place on the pier on 22/23 August.
An evocative photograph of Sunset Over West Pier was chosen from over 3,000 entries as winner of the 2009 Old Pulteney Wish You Were Here competition. The competition aims to recapture the beauty and romance of the British seaside, and is organised in conjunction with Photography Magazine, the Daily Express, RNLI and VisitBritain. The winning photographer, Laurence Cartwright, will receive a cash prize of £2,500 plus an invitation to visit the Old Pulteney whisky distillery in Wick.
BRIGHTON has been judged Best All-Round Seaside Holiday Destination for 2009 by Coast magazine. Elsewhere, the donkeys at WESTON-SUPER-MARE were chosen as Best Seaside Attraction, a category in which SOUTHWOLD pier was a runner-up. In its latest issue the magazine rates the new cafeteria on DEAL pier highly and, appropriately for such a popular angling pier, supplies a list of fish that can be spotted from it, including the John Dory, the Grey Mullet and the Tompot Blenny!
BRIGHTON PALACE pier features in the Brighton Festival for the first time this year. The Hydrocracker theatre group is staging a promenade production of Joe Orton’s The Erpingham Camp, set in a holiday camp, on the structure. The audience will follow the action along the entire pier including its bars, rides and fish ‘n’ chip restaurant. Tickets cost £18/£10 with performances from 12-24 May.
The legendary Morrissey Band are including GREAT YARMOUTH Britannia pier theatre on their UK tour, appearing there on 15 May. The band will also be playing at venues in Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London, promoting their latest album Years of Refusal.
On a similar track, COLWYN BAY owner has been digging into the Victoria pier archive, discovering details of performances given in the pier pavilion in the 1970s and 80s by bands such as Motorhead, Slade, Iron and Elvis Costello.
CLEETHORPES is to be without a rail service during the peak holiday months. Network Rail has announced that essential engineering works are to be carried out on the line between Doncaster and the resort during July and August.
GREAT YARMOUTH’s historic Winter Gardens, which closed last year on safety grounds, may cost less to restore than was originally feared. The country’s leading experts on cast iron structures have put the costs around £500,000 and the local authority has been talking to organisations such as English Heritage about possible grants to help with the cost. The Winter Gardens was purchased in 1903 from the authorities in Torquay at a cost of £1,300 and has had uses ranging from an ice rink to a nightclub. It is situated adjacent to the WELLINGTON pier.
SOUTHWOLD pier has donated £1,000 to the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Connect scheme which was set up in 2001 to maintain the coastline’s conservation.
Recent research by the BLACKPOOL Civic Society has revealed that Hitler decided to spare the resort from bombing because he wanted it as his personal playground once he had invaded Britain!
High Street retailer The Pier (Icelandic owned) has become one of the victims of the recession. 400 jobs were under threat as the company was placed in administration.
(Thanks to Margaret Burgoine, David Cheshire, Tim Mickleburgh, Bernard Polley and Violet Salter for their contributions)