Compiled by Anthony Wills with Simon Webster

Hastings hits the Jackpot

Residents and councillors have welcomed the news that the Government has given the go-ahead for the Council to issue the owners of HASTINGS pier with a Compulsory Purchase Order. This came about through local MP Amber Rudd lobbying the Ministry for Culture, Media & Sport, including its former Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt. If no response is received from Ravensclaw and an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a further £11.4 million is successful the Hastings Pier Trust’s restoration plans, based on designs by architects drMM, can be put into action.


Clevedon’s Lottery award will make its dreams come true

The HLF has also awarded the CLEVEDON Pier Trust a further grant of £720,000 to develop its plans for a new visitor centre. The money will enable the Trust to achieve its goal of building a much needed visitor space for community events, workshops and learning activities, helping the pier become a first class visitor attraction, as well as boosting the numbers visiting. On a practical level the centre will also house new toilet facilities and a cafe. Richard Bellamy, Head of Lottery Funding South West, said the award “reflects the truly wonderful Victorian heritage we have here in North Somerset. Today’s substantial investment will not only enable vital improvement works to begin…but also offer a fantastic range of training and volunteering opportunities for local people”. Welcoming the award the Chairman of the Pier Trust, Simon Talbot-Ponsonby said: “This is a huge step forward… in helping us to achieve our ambition of providing good facilities for our visitors whilst also giving us the means to become financially self sufficient when it comes to carrying out all the essential maintenance needed on this beautiful pier.”

Shock closure of Cleethorpes pier

CLEETHORPES pier closed suddenly at the beginning of October and is to be put up for auction in January with a guide price of £400,000. The pier has had a chequered history since being acquired by local businessman Bryn Ilsley in 2008. In 2011 the nightclub was closed down by the police after numerous incidents of violent behaviour. However new lessee Alistair Clugston carried out a programme of improvements to Tides Restaurant and the former ballroom, creating a new stage area which allowed acts such as Toots & The Mayalls to perform in front of 1,000 people (standing). This summer a variety of events were held ranging from a Family Fun Day to an Xtreme Wrestling display.

Further progress at Penarth

PENARTH Arts & Crafts Ltd. has been awarded three new grants towards the restoration of the pier’s historic pavilion. £199,000 has come from the Coastal Communities Fund to fund three full-time positions for a two year project to run a marketing and activities office in premises near the Pavilion kindly provided rent-free by Viscount Windsor. The Headley Trust has given £15,000 towards the cost of a ceramic mosaic designed by local residents which will adorn the Pavilion’s floor. £40,000 has come from CADW (Welsh Heritage) to preserve older parts of the structure. Restoration work began at the end of September with a target completion in November 2013.

Weston Grand’s owners reach out of court settlement

An out of court settlement has been reached between the owners of WESTON-SUPER-MARE GRAND pier and Yeoman (Fire) Monitoring Services regarding the blaze which destroyed the pavilion building on 28 July 2008. It was reported that the first alarm went off at 0135 but no calls were made to the Fire Brigade until 0700. No admissions of liability have been made. A separate claim against System 2 Security Ltd. is due for consideration at Bristol Mercantile Court in November.

Southend collision results in fines

A fisherman has been fined nearly £13,000 in fines and costs after his boat hit SOUTHEND pier on 17 February causing £113,000 worth of damage and costing the Council an estimated £400,000 in lost revenue. The 9.2.metre long Paul Patrick became wedged beneath the pier’s steel girders and had to be cut free using an angle grinder.

Colwyn Bay Victoria saga continues

Since acquiring COLWYN BAY VICTORIA pier for £35,000 back in March (see PIERS 104) Conwy County Council has had to carry out works to safeguard the derelict structure under Health & Safety legislation. The circumstances concerning the purchase from administrators Royce Peel & Greening were queried by an anonymous member of the public who made 19 objections to the Council’s accounts for 2009/10 and 2010/11. The auditors KPMG ruled that whilst the Council had an obligation to make the pier safe it should have done so under the Local Government Act 2000 and not the Wellbeing Power which it used. The Council incurred costs of £53,000 in relation to this hearing. It is understood that the person who instigated the queries was NOT the pier’s former owner Steve Hunt. Mr Hunt lost his battle to validate his ownership of the pier in August and the judge ordered him to pay the Council’s costs. He still owes costs of £12,000 awarded to the Council after the failure of his legal challenge against the Council’s auditors earlier this year. A separate action by his mother Gloria Hunt is due to be heard in court in October or November. Meanwhile the Council is making a second application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £4.9 million towards the cost of restoring the pier.

Stan Terrell, campaigner for Weston-super-Mare Birnbeck, dies

We regret to announce the death of the Vice-Chairman of the Old Pier (Birnbeck) Society, Stan Terrell. Stan was born in Bristol and was just eight when his family moved to Weston-super-Mare. After leaving school he served in the Army in Germany and North Africa, where he drove tank transporters, before returning to Weston and working, first for the Weston Paint Factory and then at Westland Helicopters. He stayed there for 38 years, in the course of which he trained many future pilots. He attended the inaugural meeting of the Friends Of The Old Pier Society held at the Royal Pier Hotel in September 1996, subsequently becoming its historian, its Press Officer in 2003 (when he organised a poetry competition) and, eventually, its Vice Chairman. Stan was a fount of knowledge about the early days of Birnbeck and was the author of Birnbeck Pier: A Short History (published by North Somerset Museum Service, ISBN 0 9011 4 10 8).

Overseas News

Bowler-hatted and be-suited protesters dropped their trousers and squatted on their WCs on the beach near Adelaide’s GLENELG pier to protest against the area’s lack of public toilet facilities. The local authority has promised to look into the matter.

Other news

The reopening of HERNE BAY pier minus its old sports pavilion took place on 3 June in the presence of 2,000 residents, despite appalling weather, and throughout the summer the Pier Trust ran a comprehensive programme of sporting and leisure events. The navigation lights at the end of the pier, one two metres above the other, which were previously attached to the pavilion, have attracted some adverse comments as they are much more prominent when viewed from the pier entrance, however they are required by law.

A historical plaque has been erected on the site of the former GREAT YARMOUTH jetty which was demolished at the beginning of this year. The jetty dated back to the 16th century and was used by Admiral Nelson though nothing remained of the original structure and it would have cost £350,000 to repair.

Local anglers spoke out after a number of fishing restrictions were imposed on ROTHESAY pier (Argyle & Bute) in July. This followed an incident when a member of the ferry crew injured himself on a hook embedded in a mooring rope. It has been suggested that the hook was cast from neighbouring Albert pier.

Mystery knitters struck again on SALTBURN pier on 26 July, installing Olympics figures during the night before the Opening Ceremony of the Games. The saga of the so called “yarn bombers” has been reported in the national media as well as on social networking sites, as a result of which the number of people using the cliff lift leading down to the pier increased by 9,000 in the quarter from April to June.

Thrill seekers escaped serious injury after a fault developed on the rollercoaster known as Stella’s Revenge on CLACTON pier on 12 August. Seven casualties were assessed by paramedics but did not require hospitalization. On a more positive note huge crowds thronged the pier for the town’s annual Air Show on 23 August. A conference room holding up to 50 people with its own kitchenette and separate access from the seafront has recently been opened. Admission to the popular Seaquarium is £3 with a family deal at £10. The Boardwalk Bar and Grill at the pier entrance features live music plus DJs with a late drinks licence. The Jolly Roger cafe at the pier head has a number of vintage photos of the pier and seafront on its walls. The final free fireworks display of the year will be held on 3 November. Christmas Wonderland will be open from 26 November to 2 January.

TV chef Jamie Oliver and his father Jimmy Doherty opened a new cafe on SOUTHEND pier in September but only for the purposes of filming an episode called Jamie and Jimmy’s Food Fight Club for a TV series made by his company Fresh One Productions and due to air on Channel 4 this autumn.

EASTBOURNE pier had a busy season. An African “curryoke” evening with disco was held on 14 September, organised by Art & Tackle, who also run the fishing club. At this function there was an opportunity to have a photo taken with Olympic torch bearer Tuesday O’Hara in aid of cancer research. A wedding party took place in the Ocean Suite the following evening and on the 26th the annual pier to pier walk from Hastings was held. Repairs have been carried on the towers above the shops. The Camera Obscura is closed while the access staircase is being made safe.

A LLANDUDNO based confectionery firm came up with the perfect antidote to the dismal British summer: warm ice-cream! It is cake flavoured and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.

A souvenir shop on FALMOUTH PRINCE OF WALES pier is on the market. Mullions has catered for boat trippers and holidaymakers for more than fifty years. Ill health is forcing the current owner to sell up. The asking price is a very reasonable £27,500 leasehold.

WORTHING Council has invited expressions of interest in leasing the Southern Pavilion at the pier head, latterly used as a nightclub. Casino use is one possibility. The Society inspected the pavilion during its 2011 Annual General Meeting in the town. The Council had previously put its theatre operations, including the Pavilion, out to tender, but subsequently decided to continue to run them.

Award winning children’s novelist Jacqueline Wilson (Tracy Beaker) told The Independent (14 July) that her first holiday memory was CLACTON pier in the 1950s, where her mother used to play Bingo.

Outgoing General Secretary Brendan Barber was pictured in The Times of 10 September enjoying an ice cream on the beach east of BRIGHTON PALACE pier during the TUC’s annual general meeting.

Let’s Have a Party! BBC4’s tribute to the popular pub pianist turned EMI recording star Mrs Mills (1918-78) was shown on 23 September. Gladys Mills made her first recording in a booth on SOUTHEND pier at a cost of 2s 6d.

Actress and model Kelly Brook has become the face (and body and legs!) of a campaign sponsored by 02 Travel in celebration of the traditional seaside postcard. Research shows that only one in six holidaymakers sent a postcard home this year. Almost half of UK adults have never sent a postcard and half of those under 24 have never considered doing so. Kelly, 32, said: “For years I used to send postcards home to family and friends. They were always the cheekiest, funniest ones I could find. Sadly I don’t see any of those images anymore.”

“Go – to a show!”
CROMER Pier Pavilion has a full programme of autumn attractions culminating in its Christmas Seaside Special, running twice daily throughout December and starring Norfolk’s favourite comedian Olly Day with full supporting company.

Elsewhere WORTHING Pier Pavilion is home to The Wizard Of Oz from 13 December – 6 January 2013 Not Christmas or New Year’s Day). And at WEYMOUTH Pier Theatre it’s Jack & The Beanstalk from 15 December to 6 January 2013. Please do your best to support these professional shows.

And finally:
A seller of saucy seaside postcards was shocked when police officers turned up on EASTBOURNE pier on 12 September to investigate a complaint that he had been flogging obscene images in his gift shop. Ian Donald said he sells 600-700 cards every season to people of all ages without receiving a single complaint. The claim was made by an assistant minister of the local Elim Family Church. The last known complaint of this nature was made in RYDE (IOW) in the 1950s.

Thanks to Margaret Burgoine, Julie O’Hara, Daphne Lewis, Tim Mickleburgh, Steve Wilkinson and Anonymous for their contributions