Compiled by Tim Wardley

HASTINGS PIER Grand Reopening
Saturday 21 May was a historic day in the history of HASTINGS PIER with the grand re-opening after years of campaigning, hard work and £14 million investment masterminded by the Hastings Pier Charity. NPS Chairman Tim Wardley was among hundreds of invited guests to attend the re-opening ceremony at 10am and share in the celebration of a magnificent achievement.
After a day of special events pop group Madness played a concert to bring the celebrations to a conclusion with 2,500 fans on the pier.

As reported in the Stop Press page of PIERS 119 BRIGHTON PALACE PIER has been sold by the Noble family to the Eclectic Bar Group headed by Luke Johnson. Commenting on the new acquisition to the company’s portfolio which includes the bar brands Lola Lo, Sakura, Fez Club, Po Na Na, Dirty Blonde, Embargo Republica, Coalition and Lowlander, Mr Johnson said “This acquisition represents the next stage in the group’s development, expanding the Company’s existing portfolio and using the enhanced Board’s diverse skill set to become a differentiated operator of leisure and entertainment assets.”

The pier changed hands for £18 million and Mr Johnson also added he had no plans to rush into changes for the pier and would be consulting with patrons and residents regarding any changes which may be proposed. NPS Media Relations Officer, Anthony Wills, commented on the sale: “I think that this is the most popular pier in the country so therefore a breath of fresh air is to be welcomed. We hope that Eclectic will bring some of their expertise to Palace Pier in order to further enhance its appeal”.

A recent survey of SWANAGE PIER has revealed 41 Greenheart timber piles are in a critical condition and in need of urgent replacement if the pier is to remain open and ambitious development plans to enhance its tourist appeal are to go ahead.

As its contribution to the costs, the Trust needs to raise £900,000 by November, of which it has already raised £400,000 from fund raising initiatives and grants. The half million pounds still required has prompted a Crowdfunding Campaign, where the public can make online donations to support the pier. A range of intense fund-raising schemes will also continue during the summer, including the opportunity to sponsor plaques on the pier. So far 10,000 plaques have been sponsored by donors. It is also planned to build a new visitor centre with exhibition spaces and educational facilities, plus expanded retail and catering facilities to compliment the Grade II structure with provisional support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The pier currently attracts over 125,000 visitors a year.

Trust Chairman Ben Adney said of the Crowdfunding appeal said: “The Crowdfunding Campaign is the next critical phase in our fund raising which will take us a major step towards achieving our goal. It is a tense time for us because of the way Crowdfunding works, if we don’t manage to get our full target funded, we don’t receive any of the funds, so we would encourage anyone who has been considering supporting the appeal to visit the Crowdfunder website to make a pledge. This really is our one opportunity to save Swanage Pier for future generations and we only have a short time frame to secure the funds we need.”

Pledges receive awards including strolling passes for unlimited pier visits, personalised brass plaques and limited edition watercolour illustrations. Visit and donate from as little at £10.

BOGNOR PIER Trust funding bid receives political endorsement
Bognor MP Nick Gibb recently met with members of Bognor Pier Trust to learn more about their plans for a £5 million restoration plan for the pier in co-operation with owner John Ayres. After detailed discussions Mr Gibb endorsed the project saying “Between them, they have the experience in business development and estate management as well as the ability to put together the necessary bids. The research and plans that have been developed, and the clear support of the community for this project, fill me with optimism that these plans will work and that one day we will see our wonderful pier restored to some of its former glory.”

The long term plan involves stabilising and upgrading the existing pier structure before restoring the pier to its full length former glory with Heritage Lottery funding.

EASTBOURNE PIER celebrates 150th anniversary in style
21 April saw a full day of celebrations to celebrate the construction of EASTBOURNE PIER. Among the invited guests were local MP Caroline Ansell and NPS Chairman Tim Wardley. There were special events and a full day of fun, with several hundred people visiting the pier. Among the guests of honour were three Eastbourne centenarians aged between 100 & 104 who were all presented with gifts by pier owner Abid Gulzar. A special exhibition celebrating the pier’s milestone runs through the summer at Eastbourne Heritage Centre.

BIRNBECK PIER North jetty to be demolished?
The storm battered north steamer jetty which stands to the right of the main pier structure may be demolished for safety reasons after having clung perilously to life since a partial collapse last Autumn. Simon Robertshaw, inspector for Historic England has been in discussions with the pier owners, CNM Estates, and Indigo Planning, appointed by the owners to oversee the demolition application. Wahid Samady for CNM Estates explained that given the condition of the jetty it may be better to demolish it while restoring the rest of the pier, adding that remedial works were urgently required to prevent further deterioration.

Speaking to the local Weston Mercury, Mr Samady added “CNM is undertaking further studies to provide costs – certainly for the refurbishment of the pier itself – and this has involved the appointment of a team of cost consultants, engineers and supporting professionals, including a specialist pier contractor. CNM is working with Historic England and North Somerset and there have been a number of on-site meetings.”

RAMSEY PIER Entrance opened for first time in quarter of a century
The gates of RAMSEY PIER have been ceremoniously unlocked for the first time in 25 years in a gesture described by the Queens Pier Restoration Trust as a day they never thought would happen. In a ceremony at the pier entrance the Manx Government officially handed over the keys of the pier to the Trust and the gates were temporarily unlocked as a gesture to the new beginning for the pier after being closed on safety grounds in 1990.

In 2011 the government agreed a £1.7 million stabilisation of the structure to prevent further deterioration. Queens Pier Restoration Trust will now embark on a full survey before launching a £60,000 project to restore the first of 55 bays. Each subsequent bay is anticipated to cost £25,000 each until the full length of the pier is restored. Good news indeed for a pier which has been on the threatened list for far too long.

De-construction work begins at DOVER PRINCE OF WALES PIER
As reported in Piers 119 de-construction work on DOVER PRINCE OF WALES PIER began on 9 May with exclusion zones for public safety being put in place by the Port of Dover. The pier features as part of the £120 million Dover Docks Revival Project. Rope markers, yellow floats, a rock bund and four new marker buoys will all form part of the safety exclusion zones for bathers and water sport enthusiasts to ensure public safety around the work site. When completed the pier will be incorporated into a new development of retail, leisure and marina facilities.

HERNE BAY pier receives £50k CRF Funding
Campaigners are celebrating after HERNE BAY PIER was awarded £50,000 funding from the latest round of Coastal Revival Fund grants. The money will be used to construct a permanent performance stage with protective canopy for live performances on the pier with an anticipated unveiling next Spring of the new attraction. Councillor Andrew Cook was “delighted” with the announcement adding it would not have been possible to contemplate the performance stage without the grant.

Entrance fees rise 66% at CLEVEDON PIER
Following the completion of the new Visitor Centre which opened to the public during May at a cost of £2.25 million (see PIERS 119) visitors have been shocked by a large rise in admission fees from £1.80 to £3 with child admissions rising from £1 to £2. The annual pass remains unchanged at £25. Visitors to the new Centre are subject to the tolls.

Defending the price rises following comments on social media and local press, Clevedon Pier Trust Chairman, Simon Talbot-Ponsonby said “This is the first rise in four years. We have spent more than £2 million on the visitor centre and are providing a far better experience for our visitors to the pier. People are definitely now getting more for their money. We do incur large maintenance costs for the pier. The last time it was repainted four years ago it cost £800,000. North Somerset Council contributed to that work but this is not something we can expect the authority to continue to do.

We need to be in a position where we make a large enough surplus each year to fund the ongoing maintenance costs. We have not increased the cost of the annual pass which remains at £25 and offers the best option for local people and repeat visitors.”

The new visitor centre boasts multi-function community spaces and exhibition room, a viewing platform with unrivalled sea views and a new restaurant. Full details of how to donate, fund-raise and support the pier can be found at their website

SOUTHSEA SOUTH PARADE to re-open this summer
Magistrates lifted a closure order on SOUTHSEA SOUTH PARADE PIER on 16 May. One third of the pier – or 51 meters – can now be opened for the summer after repairs to the decking and structure were carried out to a high standard by the owners. The plan for 2016 is to concentrate on acquiring tenants for the former ballroom and theatre, and creating a superb visitor experience. Plans for a Ferris Wheel and rooftop restaurant have been postponed until 2017 while focus is concentrated on developing the core business this season. It is also hoped the restriction on the remaining length of the pier will also be lifted for next season allowing the full facilities of the pier to be enjoyed.

Speaking for the owners, Surveyor Malcolm Belcher said: “The owners have continued to show their commitment and dedication to getting the pier into a condition whereby it’s able to be used and enjoyed for generations to come.” Local councillors have also applauded the investment and work by the owners. NPS Chairman Tim Wardley will be visiting the pier during the summer to inspect the hard work undertaken by owner Tommy Ware resulting in another closed pier re-joining the ranks of those open for public and community enjoyment. Well done Southsea!

SKEGNESS PIER celebrates 135th anniversary and announces major refurbishment
SKEGNESS PIER celebrated its 135th anniversary in style on 4 June with special events including games and childrens’ face painting to mark the milestone. The pier, which attracts over 100,000 visitors each season also announced a major refurbishment of its facilities including year round opening from winter 2016. The plan includes re-roofing the gaming machine arcade to ensure the modern hi-tech facilities are fully protected from the elements allowing the very latest computer generated interactive entertainments to be installed on the pier.

Also, the arcades will be more aesthetically pleasing and offer a greater visitor experience through new insulation and heating systems which will add to the piers eco-friendly credentials.

Come to BOSCOMBE PIER to play golf!
The UK’s – and possibly the world’s first eco-friendly mini golf course – has opened on BOSCOMBE PIER! The new addition to the pier’s range of unique attractions invites players to hit balls down a zig-zag course along the length of the pier and aim for a hole at the pier head. The golf balls are biodegradable and made of fish food – dissolving within 48 hours of contact with sea water and providing a food source for the rich marine life which live around the pier. An American Diner will also be opening this summer at the former Coasters Restaurant site followed by new beach huts as a part of Boscombe re-generation.

SALTBURN PIER yarn bombers strike again!
Under cover of darkness something strange is happening on SALTBURN PIER! An invasion of a woolly nature was captured by the Northern Echo invading the iconic structure during late May as the famous Saltburn Yarn Bombers strike again – with this year’s theme being a celebration of all things Yorkshire! The colourful attraction has been a draw for tourists in recent years and welcomed by the local community. They certainly have not given the fluffy visitors the needle! The pier has also recently been used by the University of Bath to study wave formations and their effect on coastal erosion, in a range of experiments using the latest hi-tech equipment.

SOUTHEND PIER closes temporarily for emergency work
The world’s longest pleasure pier closed dramatically and suddenly for three days in early June when cracks were discovered in the pile cappings. Following swift emergency repairs the pier re-opened again on 11 June but the train service is suspended at least until the end of July while more substantial repairs are undertaken. Mechanical vibration could cause more cracking which will prevent the trains from running, causing major disruptions to MV Balmoral’s cruises from the pierhead requiring passengers to walk 2.5 miles to join and leave the ship.

In other developments a new crazy golf attraction has opened on the pier and a new post box has been dedicated replacing the one lost after the 2005 fire on the pier. A replica George VI box in traditional Post Office red is already proving a big hit with visitors.

MV BALMORAL re-opens WORTHING PIER to steamer calls
The award winning pleasure cruise ship MV Balmoral successfully re-introduced pleasure trips from WORTHING PIER on 10 June with a special cruise to view the liner Oriana in the Solent. Worthing has been bereft of pleasure ships for several seasons and owners Worthing Council have invested in landing stage repairs to both the Western and Central berth faces to accommodate MV Balmoral as part of her commitment to providing coastal cruising opportunities around the UK. Full details of 2016 cruises can be found at

Repair work at TORQUAY PRINCESS PIER completed
Repair works have been completed on schedule at TORQUAY PRINCESS PIER. 440 square meters of hardwood decking have been replaced, seating refurbished and sub structure coated with specialist anti-corrosion material as part of the pier’s re-vamp.

COLWYN BAY VICTORIA pier trust propose dismantling scheme
Colwyn Bay Victoria Pier Trust Chairman Mark Roberts has proposed a systematic and sympathetic dismantling of the pier structure as a way forward towards restoration. His plan involves examining each individual dismantled component to ascertain the true condition of the structure, allowing a clear and accurate assessment of the needs and costs of full restoration. He explained: “The direction we’re going is to dismantle the pier – dismantling is not demolition. It is a concept in listed building legislation case law whereby you have the building dismantled and take the individual elements away – you can look at them to see if they need replacing, cleaning or fixing.”

New rides planned for BLACKPOOL SOUTH PIER
Owner Peter Sedgwick has announced that a planning application has been lodged with Blackpool Council to re-locate the Log Flume currently on SOUTH PIER to the promenade in order to free up space for new attractions on the pier. Mr Sedgwick added that plans were only at an early stage but he desired to bring something new and fresh to the south part of the town to continue the policy of providing a high quality family entertainment experience.

CLEETHORPES PIER postcards on sale
Pier of the Year winner CLEETHORPES is continuing to celebrate in style with the launch of a new picture postcard, soon to be on sale throughout the town.

Local photographer Glynn Fletcher has produced the attractive card, saying, “Cleethorpes should be proud of the wonderful restoration the pier has undergone and also being voted ‘Pier of the Year.”

Famous attraction returns to CLACTON PIER
As featured in PIERS 110, the famous helter-skelter at CLACTON PIER has returned following a full restoration over the winter after suffering storm damage last autumn. The 1949 built iconic structure has been a firm favourite at Clacton for generations and pier owner Billy Ball now plans to add illumination to the building so it can be seen in all its glory after dark. It is re-assuring and pleasing to see the Ball family care about and recognise the heritage of their pier, which is one of the most popular in the country.

Casino plans for abandoned EASTBOURNE PIER theatre
The abandoned circle of EASTBOURNE PIER theatre may see a renaissance in the future as a casino or dance hall under ambitious refurbishment plans by owner Abid Gulzar. Following a fire in 1970 the stalls area was converted into a nightclub with a false ceiling but the circle has remained abandoned for the past 46 years. Any proposals will require significant investment to restore the ravages of time but hopefully one of Eastbourne’s best loved buildings may have a new future ahead.

Development planned for former FLEETWOOD PIER site
Mike Simmons, owner of the former FLEETWOOD PIER destroyed by fire in 2008, has unveiled plans for apartments aimed at the over 55’s on the site of the former pier. The structure with curved Art Deco influenced architecture will partly sit on a new pier construction and feature underground parking for 17 cars and retail space. Costing £3.5 million the plan has met with a mixed reaction from residents. Mr Simmons says the scheme will create vital jobs in the town and ‘enhance the character and appearance of the area.’

Dog wars – Eastbourne versus Hastings!
In a change of policy following public protests including a flash mob protest in April, HASTINGS PIER now welcomes dogs on its pier all year round. Previously it had only allowed dogs out of season in line with local beach policy. On his recent visit NPS Chairman Tim Wardley found plenty of thought given to canine needs including fresh bowls of water throughout the length of the pier and lactose-free dog ice cream on sale which was proving very popular. In stark contrast notices are appearing on Eastbourne pier banning dogs at all times. One wonders how long it will be before the flash mob descends here too?

Ferry collides with HYTHE PIER
Perhaps ominously on Friday 13 May a ferry collided with HYTHE PIER at around 9.20pm damaging the wheelhouse of the ship and leaving three people with minor injuries as the vessel became wedged under the pier structure.

New pier for WITHERNSEA?
Almost a century after losing its original pier, plans have been unveiled for proposals to put the seaside town back on the pier map. Proposals by the Withernsea Pier & Promenade Association would see a viewing platform extend out from shore between the remaining pier entrance towers. The eventual aim is to build a renewable energy centre and educational facilities on the new structure.

NPS member Phillip Cade has boosted the work of keeping MV Balmoral sailing to our seaside piers with a generous donation of £59,000 to Balmoral Fund Limited. Presenting the cheque to Captain David Howie and Treasurer Richard Mills, Phillip said “I am delighted to be able to make this donation to M.V. Balmoral, the purpose of which is to ensure that Balmoral remains in full operational condition and continues to offer traditional Coastal Cruising. This is intended to allow the public the opportunity to view areas of the coast aboard this award winning heritage vessel that would not otherwise be possible.

It is hoped that it will also justify the expenditure needed to maintain and improve pier landing stages and other Coastal infrastructure by ensuring M.V. Balmoral is able to utilise these facilities fully, and maximise the efforts between White Funnel and the National Piers Society to expand the network of calling points – an important element of the ship’s endorsement by the Coastal Communities Fund and an important contributor to the tourist economies of seaside towns and the piers which serve them.

I also hope that this donation will encourage others to donate to M. V. Balmoral.”

Piers Mediawatch

Compiled by Anthony Wills

Media Relations Officer Anthony Wills has been kept busy with media enquiries recently and was heard on BBC Radio 4 over the April Bank Holiday being interviewed about the re-opening of Hastings Pier on the popular programme You and Yours.

Brighton Argus carried an interesting article on 30 March about building new seaside piers. Reporter Adam Trimingham expressed his passion for seaside piers in a well-considered article extolling the virtues of using modern construction methods to build a new generation of piers to compliment the survivors from the Victorian age. He suggested a good starting place would be Brighton and concludes that, with concerted effort, 2017 could be designated Year of the Pier. As this will celebrate the 21st anniversary of the last Year of the Pier co-ordinated by our Society this sounds like a rather good idea!

Nick Norton wrote in praise of Brighton Pier in The Guardian on 14 April in an interesting article with the theme ‘Chips can mix with Culture.’

The Daily Express offered their top ten guide to British piers on April 28 under the title ‘The Great British Seaside Revival’. Brighton Palace Pier topped their list followed closely by Blackpool North. Interesting entries included Hythe Pier for its railway. Worthing, Cromer and Clacton also featured in this interesting article.

Peter Ross wrote enthusiastically in The Guardian again on 14 May celebrating the return of Hastings Pier and looking at the renaissance of the British seaside in an interesting and informative article headed ‘Once more to the beach – how Britain’s seaside towns bounced back.’

On 28 May The Guardian again had a great feature on Cleethorpes with columnist Davey Brett enthusing over the delights to be found in the North-East seaside town. Prominently featured was Cleethorpes Pier and a good mention for the NPS in an article headed ‘Off to Cleethorpes for sea, sand & style.’