Helensburgh Pier – Partial Reopening for boat landings
Helensburgh Pier has been closed to all boat landings, including that of P.S Waverley, since 2018 due to the deteriorting condition of the timber pier head. Helensburgh Community Council have reported that they are making arrangements to allow safe use of the masonry pier neck by small boats, acting as an interim measure in the wider pier restoration objective. In the meantime, the timber pier head remains closed and excludes deeper draft vessels from landing at the pier.
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Mumbles Pier – Concerns over the disuse of the RNLI station
The RNLI have been stationed at the current Lifeboat station on Mumbles Pier since 2014. In 2023, access to the station was discontined following problematic findings from a structural inspection of part of the pier neck. Since then, the RNLI lifeboat has been moored near the pier and accessed by boarding boat; otherwise, RNLI operations continue. Local residents have placed pressure on the Council, RNLI and pier owners in resolving to reinstate access; discussions are presently taking place and seem to be depending on the anticipated insurance payouts following the 2022 fire of the landward restaurant buildings.
On a visit to the pier in 2019, I noted the completed reconstruction of the first half of the pier neck. The seaward half, however, was still to be repaired and public access was partially restricted to a raised gangway, structurally independent from the deteriorated lattice girders. It would seem that the Coronovirus pandemic halted further structural works, and so this seaward half of the neck has remained unrestored to the point of the inspection.
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Weston Grand Pier – Defibrillator registered for emergency service use
Management at the Grand Pier, having previously obtained access to a defibrillator for use by pier staff, have successfully registered it for use by the emergency services. This places it on a national network where it can be rapidly identified by emergency personnel nearby. To remain on the register, the equipment will be regularly inspected by staff.
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Clacton Pier – “February Frenzy”
As part of the events schedule for 2024, Clacton Pier is offering a week of half-priced rides and attractions. This is intended as an encouragement for visiting the town throughout the year, and also to support those impacted by rising living costs. Much like recent developments at Lowestoft Claremont Pier, much of the management’s objectives in their development works is to offer all-weather entertainment, thus making the pier more financially sustainable in all weather conditions. Further events at Clacton Pier will be revealed on their website and social media pages shortly.
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Bournemouth Pier – A History
A short article detailing the basic history of Bournemouth Pier and its predecessors. The text appears to be referenced directly from the National Piers Society’s own account of Bournemouth Pier; notwithstanding this, I would recommend viewing this page for the photographs alone. Amongst the period postcards, there is a particularly fine photograph of the Pier Theatre in its early years, and a photograph of the 1979-81 neck reconstruction works.
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Blackpool North Pier – Tributes for Trevor Raven, North Pier Organist
Trevor Raven Snr. passed away from cancer last week, leading to numerous messages of condolence on Blackpool North Pier’s social channels. He had for decades entertained visitors in the Sun Lounge, with his elabourate array of electronic organs and synthesizers, offering regular performances throughout the day in the peak seasons.
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Redcar Beacon (Vertical Pier) – Antisocial problems
Redcar and Cleveland Council have so far been unable to resolve antisocial behaviour which resulted in the closure of the Beacon 18 months ago. The abuse of the attraction became a notable hazard when objects were thrown from the top deck and certain individuals were breaching the safety railings. The Beacon was promptly closed, denying all visitors access to both the viewing deck itself, although some of the ground-floor facilities remained open. Residents have been criticising the Council over the apparent disuse of what was, in 2013, a substantial investment in Redcar’s wider regeneration.
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Walton Pier Bowl – A Successful Book Launch
As mentioned in a recent issue of the NPS newsletter, a revised and expanded version of the book “Walton Pier Bowl”, by Stephen Walker, has been completed. The book launch at The Nose Bookshop, Walton-on-the-Naze, at the end of January, was highly successful and generated much interest in local history and bowling circles. All of the books available at the launch were sold out and international online orders were received. Proceeds from the sales will be donated to the Walton Foodbank.
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Weston Birnbeck Pier – Construction contracts agreed
The Council meeting on the 7th February saw the proposed restoration contracts signed off and put out to tender. The contract for provisional safety works of the landward site is planned to begin in May. While a considerable time pressure for the project has been widely appreciated by all involved, the project is a long and complex process; the planning and Listed Building Consent process is yet to begin and will typically take several months to reach its resolution. As usual, the superficial condition of the pier can be monitored from home with the Birnbeck Restoration Trust’s online webcam (however at the time of writing, the camera appears to have been knocked slightly out of alignment by the wind!).
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Deal Pier Kitchen – Expansion into a second branch
The owners of the Deal Pier Kitchen, based in the 2008 pier-head pavilion, have operated at the pier since 2019. The business has proven to be a considerable success with visitors and has naturally developed from offering brunches towards serving steak and lobster evening meals. The owners are now opening a second branch in Bridge, near Canterbury. This will be situated just off the local High Street and wil be named “Flo and Ted’s Coffee House”
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Clacton Pier – Waverley berthing season announced
P. S Waverley will be calling at Clacton Pier for three weeks through September and October. In addition to offering trips up the River Thames into London, numerous trips to the Thames Estuary’s marine curiosities will also take place. This includes visits to the Thames Forts, the Principality of Sealand and the M. V Ross Revenge (Radio Caroline; moored in the Blackwater Estuary). The detailed timetable is still to be finalised.
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Ramsey Queen’s Pier – Progress Update
In this short article, the project leaders of the pier’s restoration have highlighted the notable acceleration of progress in completing each pier bay. It is now estimated that a bay is being completed at approximately every two months, although this is greatly dependent on weather and tide conditions.
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Swanage Pier – Purbeck Coast Radio closes
The local community radio station, broadcasting from Swanage Pier since 2019, has sadly succumbed to rising costs in recent years and made its last broadcast on Thursday evening. These last moments were fondly recorded on their Facebook page.
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Great Yarmouth Britannia Pier – A new cafe to open in March
The former “The Sands Cafe”, situated under the deck at the shoreward end of Britannia Pier, is being refurbished in preparation for a 1st March opening by its new owner. To be named “Under the Pier Cafe”, it will primarily serve breakfasts, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, etc, and the intention to use local ingredients has been stated. Matthew Knapp, owner, has operated a number of public houses and presently owns The Great Eastern bar in Great Yarmouth.
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Brighton Palace Pier – “Latest TV Brighton” to relocate to the pier
The local television station, presently based at the “Latest Music Bar” in Kemp Town, is to relocate to facilities on Brighton Palace Pier. They have been in partnership with the pier for a number of years and have organised the “Pierfest” annual events. Latest Music TV will be provided with office space on the pier and will use Horatio’s Bar for making broadcasts. Their other established events, including band concerts and “in conversation” events, will be transferred to Horatio’s. Their former premises, meanwhile is now under new ownership as the “Manchester Street Arts Centre”.
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Praise for Ryde
An article which highlights the historical links between Ryde Pier and the London Underground network. It also speaks positively as to the quality of the beach, the entertainment brought by the Hovercraft, and a minor association with The Beatles.
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Life at Mumbles Pier for Owners Fred and Bert Bollom
The pier has been run by the family company AMECO for nearly 100 years. In ITV News’ 7-minute video (link below), the realities of operating the pier in recent years are set out vividly. Abundantly evident is the enthusiasm towards the pier and surroundings from the two brothers, despite several setbacks in recent years. In the video, they address the ongoing concerns of the pier’s temporary closure and the intention for 2024 to be the final year of rebuilding work. As news features go, this one is most satisfactory and I enthusiastically recommend its viewing.
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Weston Grand Pier rescues let-down wedding couples
Numerous couples with bookings and deposits for weddings at the Oakhouse Hotel, Axbridge, were left in an intolerable situation when the hotel closed and deposits were lost. In response, the events manager has offered free use of one of the pier’s function rooms for use by these couples. In difficult times when the sudden closure of businesses is common, the pier management have recognised the need to offer alternative options to couples that find themselves in this situation; their actions are to be warmly praised.
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Southport Pier – Political warefare provoked by timber sale
Lawson’s Timber Reclaimation Yard has begun selling timber decking planks removed from the pier, something which has upset some commentators. The timber, however, has been noted to be of a structural state that is now unsuitable for use as decking; such is its state of rot. Sefton Council have suggested that this process reduced the cost of timber removal by a third-party, and allowed the material to be re-used instead of scrapped. Discussions on this matter continue.
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Whitby and Scarborough Piers – £800,000 devoted for repairs
In addition to the Scarborough Lighthouse Pier, the “almost pier” at Whitby will be receiving just over £250,000 of repairs from North Yorkshire Council. Whitby’s West Pier, forming part of the harbour defences, is a popular promenading place and is partly of timber piled construction. The lighthouse is usually opened to the public as an observation tower, but its masonry construction is presently in a severely eroded condition. The lighthouse had previously closed in 2012, to be re-opened in 2016 after £90,000 of repairs. Hopefully the present work will allow the lighthouse to stand rather more fair-faced than before, in preparation for its bicentenary in 2031.
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Southend – Future mooring place for ex-Soviet submarine?
Following recent precedent for public mania upon the mooring of ex-warships at or around Southend Pier, most notably the mooring of “El Galeon” in Summer 2023, the prospect of offering permanent moorings for a nearby ex-military submarine are under consideration by the Council. The U-475 Black Widow, presently moored on the River Medway, is viewed as an ideal attraction for visitors to Southend and it has been suggested that the “Prince of Wales Jetty”, a short distance to the East of the pier, would be a suitable mooring place. The Pier would act as a particularly fine viewpoint of the vessel.
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Morecambe Piers – Historical photographs
The loss of Morecambe’s two piers seems to have been a particularly sorely-felt event in the town’s history; thusly photographic reminiscences and rebuilding proposals have been quite frequent. Another set of fine photographs has been made available, covering both piers through a time period ranging from the early 20th Century until the 1991 fire at the Central Pier.
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Successes at Clacton Pier
The previously-advertised “February Frenzy” period at Clacton Pier proved to be a considerable success and the considerable visitor numbers were in defiance of the typical February weather. Such was the success of this offer, it has been extended another week.
In the second link is an article of praise from The Express. After introducing the historical social issues of Clacton and the stubborn phrase “worst seaside town” which up to now have harmed the town’s reputation, the article proceeds to reveal that all this is becoming undeserved – the good service and value for money offered by Clacton Pier has much to do with this upturn in opinion.
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Bridgnorth Cliff Railway – Reopening Next Week
Bridgnorth is located quite some miles away from the sea but it is well-known for its cliff railway, to many an anciliary interest to seaside piers. After over a year of closure after instabilities in the cliff cuttings were detected, the issues have been rectified and the railway will be re-opening on Monday 4th March.
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