Southend Pier in Detail
Two remarkable articles have appeared over this week, which each cover differing aspects of Southend Pier in considerable detail. The first article, by the insurers of the pier, provide some fascinating insights towards the operations of the pier from an insurer’s standpoint. The second article introduces the Council’s proposals for repair works to the Prince George Extension. Far from a typical news article, it reveals meticulous technical details of electronic procurement management portals, engineering and construction contracts, concrete reinforcements and heritage frameworks… for those interested in such details!
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Weston Birnbeck Pier – The Way Forward (Upcoming Event)
The Weston Civic Society will be holding a talk on proposals for Birnbeck Pier at Weston Museum on Monday 4th March. The talk will be given by Rachel Lewis of North Somerset Council and will involve the history of the pier and, of course, details of upcoming restoration work.
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Southwold Pier Sold
Having been run by Gough Hotels since 2013, Southwold Pier has been sold after a husband and wife couple approached the company regarding the sale. Amy and Charles Barwick run an events management company, Pineapple Events Solutions, which is involved in Christmas markets, music events and funfairs. It is anticipated that operations on the pier will continue similarly for the time being and that the 33 existing staff will continue to be employed at the pier. Gough Hotels, meanwhile, will instead focus on their existing hotel portfolio.
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“Grandad and the Pier” – Screening at The Plaza Cinema, Weston-Super Mare
This film on the ongoing efforts at Ramsey Queen’s Pier, shown at numerous independent cinemas since 2023 to considerable acclaim, will be screened at The Plaza Cinema on the 20th March. Well-tied to Weston’s own pier saga, the film will be followed by a Question and Answer session from a panel which includes members of North Somerset Council, the RNLI and the Birnbeck Restoration Trust, giving further details on the progress at Birnbeck Pier.
The Plaza Cinema itself, a Grade-II listed building, has seen a fortunate circumstance of restoration at the end of 2023, having been purchased by Merlin Cinemas after its closure by Odeon in June of that year. A final organ recital was given on the 21st May 2023 by our PIERS editor, Michael Wooldridge; gladly it materialised to be not its last airing and many screenings now feature an “organ prelude” under the Merlin ownership.
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Repairs announced for Sunderland’s Piers (including Roker Pier)
The three main breakwaters at the Port of Sunderland were damaged in Storm Babet at the end of last year and the estimated repair cost is £1.8 million. The council will examine the proposed repair programme in the next week, which involves repairs to the deck, coping stones and rock armour at the Old North Pier, New South Pier and Roker Pier. The Council are willing to draw the necessary costs from their funding allocation for the reconstruction of Nobles Quay.
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Southend Pier – Specialist Contractor Sought
Relating to the Council’s proposals for the repairs to the Prince George Extension, reported last week, the Council have advertised for specialised structural contractors to work under those latter proposals. Much of the work involves the restortion of the reinforced concrete substructure; the replacing of steel enforcements and recasting of the concrete surfaces. Work is expected to begin in June and progress for just under two years.
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RNLI – 200-Year Celebration at Bembridge
The RNLI, for the 200th anniversary of its formation, was celebrated by schoolchildren at RNLI Bembridge, Isle of Wight. The gangway was suitably decked with bunting and was attended by students from numerous local schools to pay their respects to the RNLI’s ongoing work. The lifeboat station at Bembridge was completed in 2010, a replacement of a more archaic structure, and happens to be probably the most “pier-like” RNLI site in the country (aside from those attached to NPS-official piers, naturally).

Mumbles Pier – A Review of the “Big Wheel”
The Big Wheel was constructed on the former site of the Copperfish Restaurant in 2022. Its placement at the end of Mumbles Head appears to be a successful prospect, in that it affords views across to Mumbles Lighthouse, over the deck of the Pier and towards Swansea. Needless to say, the reviewer in the below article was quite delighted with the experience!
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Southwold Pier – Re-opening following sale
As reported last week, Southwold Pier was sold to new owners and has received some modest refurbishment work over the last few weeks. The pier will open briefly over the coming weekend as a “soft launch” and will then fully re-open at Easter.
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Colwyn Bay Victoria Pier – To feature on Television
ITV One Wales is to broadcast an episode of “Vanished Wales”, today at 7PM, relating to the history of the pier. The series covers the lost landmarks of Wales and its coverage of the pier will likely be of considerable interest. It will be available on “ITVx” shortly after broadcast, theoretically allowing viewers outside of Wales to watch it too.
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Clevedon Pier – Landing stage for the P.S. Waveley Bristol Channel Sailings
The Waveley will call at Clevedon Pier between 15th May and 23rd June, part of a cruise route around Portishead, Weston, Minehead and Ilfracombe. The first sailing will also involve a diversion to Bideford, and throughout the season the sailings will be arranged in partnership with three local heritage railways. Numerous other special cruises are mentioned in the article, suggesting a particularly exciting and varied cruise schedule.
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Ramsey Queen’s Pier (Isle of Man) – Progress Update
The project manager gave an interview on the realities of the ongoing construction, with much emphasis on the inevitably rising steel costs. The linked webpage contains an audio file of the interview, which contains some suggestions as to the working practices of the original Victorian contractors.
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Ryde Pier – Archive news coverage
The Island Echo has unearthed news of a catastrophe at Ryde Pier in 1973, involving a taxi collision and much damage to the pier structure. The page is fronted by a very fine photograph from this moment, incidentally with a surprising resemblance to the collapsing decking at Brighton Palace Pier following storm damage in the same year.
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Llandudno Pier – Ferris wheel returns
A ferris wheel has been positioned at the entrance of Llandudno Pier since 2021, and appears to be transported to Sheffield each year for their Christmas market. Alike the wheel at Mumbles, the attraction has been a considerable success owing to its positioning on the corner of a sweeping bay. It is expected to be opening before the start of next week.
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Clevedon Pier – A fondly-recalled summary
A pleasantly-written article which expresses pleasure in Clevedon Pier’s qualities and surprise at its unassuming location. It also recalls the remarkable period when its demolition was under consideration; most people today would agree that its loss would be unthinkable.
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Clacton Pier – 15 years of ownership
After 15 years, Billy and Elliott Ball reflect on their time as owners of Clacton Pier, and arguably, masterminds of its recent renaissance. As Norman Jacobs’ excellent book on Clacton Pier highlights, the pier has seen numerous custodians through its 150 years, each era extending for a considerable period and contributing markedly to the pier’s history. The pier’s era under the Ball brothers will certainly form a high point in its history, comparable with the famous Kingsman era.
In the second article, further plans for the Easter period are revealed.
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Southend Pier – A “Selfie Signpost”
Early evidence of Southend Council’s ongoing investment in the pier arrived this week, in the form of a milepost intended for visitors to take “selfies” in front of. Clearly inspired by the Lands End installation, it features spaces for customised messages (presumably to be pre-arranged with the pier master!). How many photographs of the signpost flood social media channels remains to be seen.
Visiting Southend Pier’s website is incidentally highly recommended. It seems to be quite newly made and whether or not it was the creation of the Council or external designers, it is a very fine piece of internet design. It includes a live webcam, a “Pier Press” with mailing list, an online shop and a useful tide times section.
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Pier Website

Clevedon Pier – A pier view from a new stained glass workshop
A stained-glass artist, based in the sea-view terraces North of Clevedon Pier, has opened their studio for members of the public to engage in a glassmaking workshop. From experience, I know that the views towards Clevedon Pier from these terraces are some of the finest that can be obtained; the header photograph was taken at midnight from one of these terraces (a holiday rental property) in 2019.
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Ramsey Queen’s Pier – A Further Update
Continuing from last week’s information, it has been confirmed that the reconstruction of bays 7-8 are expected to be completed during the summer. The steel is shortly to be delivered to the site for installation; once the bays are completed, the pier tram will be reinstated and will indeed be a moving exhibit. With the eight bays completed, it would seem that the accessible length of the pier will stand at just short of 100 metres.
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Spring tide on the Bristol Channel (Photographs of Penarth, Weston-Super-Mare)
The remarkable tidal range across the Bristol Channel, 13 metres, was abundantly felt last week during a spring tide. Photographs taken at Penarth and Weston-Super-Mare show the sea level at a height scarcely seen before.
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Weston Grand Pier – Winner of Southwest Prestige Awards
In this year’s Prestige Awards, the Grand Pier has won the award for “Best Family Amusement Centre”.
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Clevedon Pier – Updated Opening Hours
Upon entry to the Spring, the pier opening hours have been extended to 7-day opening. The pier will open at 10:00AM and close at 4:00PM on weekdays and 5:00 on weekends.
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Southampton Royal Pier – A “Heyday” Photograph
Scrolling past the emoji-vandalised header photograph, towards the middle of the linked page, one might find an unspoiled version of the same photograph, which depicts the seaward section of Southampton Royal Pier in the mid-20th Century. The liveliness of the pier and its popularity with deckchair-patrons is notable, when one considers the dismal prospect today.
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Openwide International (operators of Cromer and Bournemouth Piers) – Rebrand
Openwide International has completed a rebrand to Adventure Attractions, reflecting their present operational focus. They are well-regarded for their operational duties at Cromer and Bournemouth Piers and have rightly embraced the importance of the Pier Theatre at Cromer.
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Great Yarmouth Britannia Pier – Ongoing Refurbishments
Owners Joseph Manning and Joseph Abbott have been progressing with improvements to the pier since their 2022 purchase. Most notably, the entrance building (of mid-1960s date) is proposed to be substantially remodelled in what appears to be a loose copy of the pavilion of the neighbouring Wellington Pier. The latter has origins in an Art Nouveau structure of 1903 and was replaced with a replica in 2008. At the Britannia Pier, the fish and chip restaurant has been refurbished and renewal of the pier’s funfair machinery stock is ongoing.
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Southwold Pier – Open and preparing for improvements
The pier, under its new ownership, officially opened to the public on Good Friday. Present plans for the pier’s ongoing operation are only being revealed in a trickle, but in these early days the proposals for a new ice cream parlour will surely be welcomed.
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Clacton Pier – New Summer staff
A short article noting the completion of Clacton Pier’s recruitment process for the Summer season. With morale amongst the staff evidently healthy and spirited, the pier looks to be ready for a most eventful and lively season.
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