Hastings wins record Lottery award

The HASTINGS Pier & White Rock Trust has been awarded £11.4 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the restoration of the Grade II listed structure. This is the largest Lottery award ever given to a pier (the £14.5 million allocated to Brighton West was eventually withdrawn in 2004) and represents the lion’s share of the £13.9 million needed to deliver the project. The Coastal Community Fund have pledged a further £750,000 and the Community Builders Fund £500,000.
Simon Opie, Chief Executive of HPWRT said: “This is a brilliant decision by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the future of the pier and the future of Hastings. The commitment and support of everyone involved has been crucial to this success and the Trust is indebted to a great many people and organisations. We will continue to rely on this support and enthusiasm as the project moves to its next, exciting, phase. We now need to put everything in place to enable us to start work on the pier next spring, and we will be setting out our plans for this shortly. We very much look forward to having the pier reopened by the end of 2014.”
Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said: “Hastings pier has lived through over 150 years of history – from gentler Victorian times to the Swinging 60s and beyond. We’re delighted to be backing these ambitions which will not only save the fabric of the pier but also put it right at the heart of the local community, providing much-needed opportunities for social and economic regeneration.”
The comedienne, writer and actress Jo Brand said: “Hastings pier was where I spent a great deal of time as a teenager and it was the gathering point for a whole generation looking to see bands and dance the night away. So I suppose it’s no surprise that I view it with enormous affection. I was gutted when the pier was gutted and it’s really great news that the Heritage Lottery Fund is awarding such a substantial sum of money to help with restoration work. I can’t wait to see the new pier rise out of the ashes in the next couple of years. Hooray!”
NPS President Gavin Henderson said: “It’s wonderful that Hastings pier is to be awarded such major Lottery support. It has a fine artistic history, being the first which Eugenius Birch designed with a pavilion cum concert hall. The new Jerwood Gallery is a great boost to the town’s cultural development and we must hope that a newly restored pier will further this quest.”

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. 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.”

No buyer for Southsea South Parade

SOUTHSEA’s Grade II listed SOUTH PARADE was put up for auction on 12 December with a guide price of £190,000 to £210,000, however no buyer was forthcoming. At the end of October the pier had been deemed at risk of collapsing and a danger to the public after Portsmouth City Council said a building survey showed the steelwork holding it up was rusty and corroded and in danger of losing structural integrity. The structure was fenced off apart from the amusement arcade, which was allowed to continue trading. South Parade pier, which opened in 1879, was previously part of the Six Piers portfolio, but was sold to a private consortium in June 2010. The NPS held its AGM in the pier’s Gaiety Suite in 2005. The auction created a great deal of interest and NPS media spokesman Anthony Wills was interviewed by the Daily Mail, BBC Hampshire and Meridian TV.

Cleethorpes under the hammer

CLEETHORPES pier closed suddenly on 2 October and is due to be sold at auction on 2 February, with a guide price of £400,000. The 140 year old structure has had a turbulent history in recent years. It closed in January 2010 but was then purchased by local businessman Bryn Ilsley, who spent considerable sums repairing it before leasing it to local promoters. However a series of violent incidents after all night rock concerts in the Pavilion led to it being closed by police. Recent efforts and substantial expenditure by new lessees Alistair Clugston and Hugo Marfleet to rebrand the structure as the Pavilion and Tides Bar & Restaurant and move it upmarket failed to attract sufficient custom. The sale has been widely advertised (including a half page in the London Evening Standard) and bidding could be brisk, as the pier would appear to be structurally sound. Tim Mickleburgh, the Society’s Honorary Vice-President, was interviewed for a major article in the Mail Online on 18 December and also appeared on BBCTV’s Look North.

Weymouth pier theatre under threat of closure

The Pavilion Theatre on WEYMOUTH COMMERCIAL & PLEASURE pier may be closed, demolished and replaced by a car park if local Councillors accept recommendations in the draft budget plan for 2012/13. The 1,000 seat building, one of just five remaining pier theatres in the country, is alleged to cost £400,000 in subsidy per year and a further £700,000 of essential repairs are required. The Council claims that one of the key points learned from last year’s Cultural Olympiad is that a building is not necessary for delivering an arts programme. The resort’s Tourist Information Centre was recently relocated within the complex, which also houses a ballroom and cafe. The National Piers Society has written objecting to the proposal and pointing out that the opening of the Sea Life Tower has greatly increased footfall on the pier.

Judge rules in favour of Weston-super-Mare Grand after investigation of circumstances leading to fire in 2008

A Bristol judge has awarded the owners of WESTON-SUPER-MARE GRAND £30 million plus interest after ruling that System 2 Security Ltd were guilty of a high degree of negligence in failing to alert the emergency authorities for six hours after the start of the blaze in July 2008 which completely destroyed the pier pavilion. However the company went into administration before the start of the hearing on 19 November. Pier owner Kerry Michael said that the company had denied liability when the trial commenced and he intends to vigorously pursue the Company’s directors and insurers for payment of the award.

Minor fire and injury during Mumbles pier rebuilding works

Emergency services were called out when a fire started at the end of MUMBLES pier during the night of 27 October. Four fire crews were called to the blaze which started about 600 ft along the 114-year old pier, where contractors had been working on a replacement lifeboat station. The all-weather lifeboat was launched with a firefighter on board who assessed the underside of the smouldering pier. The cause of the fire was probably a spark from a blowtorch used earlier in the day. Sadly a month later a contractor fell around 40ft from the pier on Tuesday, sustaining a suspected fractured hip. The worker was employed by engineering firm BAM Nuttall, which is building the new £9.5 million boathouse at the pier head.

Herne Bay Trust reveals its long-term development ideas

Two main options for development were unveiled at the AGM of the HERNE BAY Pier Trust on 26 November: a beach hut village with shops on the existing boardwalk similar to the one in Whitstable harbour, which could be developed over time, or a commercially backed 275 berth marina, first discussed two years ago, with a hotel, aquarium and conference facilities. For further details visit www.pierintothefuture.co.uk The meeting also featured an update on the Trust’s work over the past year and plans for both options were on display. Several members of the Trust have resigned in the past year but relations with Canterbury City Council, who own the pier, which have been strained are now improving.
The new Chairman Doreen Stone, who led the meeting, said: “The pier does not belong to the Trust or the trustees. It is a major part of the heritage of Herne Bay. The Trust is committed to eventually restoring an attractive pier to the town. The meeting is going to be a frank and open discussion of many different ideas within the Board and a chance for residents to assess the pros and cons of options for the options for future development of the pier.”
Trust member Jason Hollingsworth, part of the group tasked with finding ways to rebuild the pier, said the key was to make it financially viable and he had been speaking to trust fund managers seeking long term investments for pension funds. He added: “A heritage pier based on the past would be a lovely idea but when you look at the economics it is not going to happen.” In the short term however the pier needs to be stabilised. A survey by Council engineers has revealed that the beams supporting the deck and the decking planks themselves are in poor condition and in some cases badly rotted. An estimated £220,000 will have to be spent on replacing them, which would take around eight months.

New attractions planned for Bournemouth

A zip line that would launch riders from the pier and across the sea to the beach is among new attractions proposed for BOURNEMOUTH pier by lessees Openwide International. The line, along with a nautically themed high ropes installation, would replace the existing small children’s rides that are considered unfit for process. Openwide, who have already had to postpone plans to convert the pier theatre into a Rock Reef centre, are applying for planning permission to Bournemouth Council, who own the pier.

Overseas News

Scheveningen pier declared bankrupt

Holland’s only pleasure pier, situated at the seaside resort of SCHEVENINGEN, has been declared bankrupt after its owners failed to find a buyer since putting it on the market in March 2012. Van der Valks, who bought the 1,140 long pier – which in its present form dates from 1961 – for a token one guilder in 1991, said income was inadequate to fund maintenance. Parts of the structure had to be closed last November on safety grounds. The local council has said it assumes that they will continue to maintain it but the company says this is not possible. A number of concessionaires on the pier face an uncertain future.

US piers damaged by Hurricane Nancy

Hurricane Nancy caused structural damage to at least four piers in its wake at the end of October. The LAKE WORTH pier (Florida) closed for two weeks then the storm moved north, hitting the NAGS HEAD pier in North Carolina. Parts of the OCEAN CITY pier (Maryland) were washed away. The 700 ft long CONEY ISLAND STEEPLECHASE pier (Brooklyn, New York), popular with fishermen and scuba divers, largely survived, having no buildings on it.

Other news

BRIGHTON PALACE pier has been taken off the market after a successful summer season which included an increase in filming and other events such as product launches. The Daily Telegraph of 10 November commended it as the ideal traditional pier experience within 120 minutes from London.

The PENARTH Arts & Crafts Trust held the first of a series of Open Days on 8 December allowing members of the public to view progress on restoring the historic pier pavilion into a multi-purpose community arts centre.

SOUTHPORT pier was a sea of red Father Christmases on 16 December when the annual Santa Sprint was held in aid of the local Queenscourt Hospice. The event was sponsored by Silcock Leisure which owns the amusement arcade by the pier entrance. An “Xtreme STORM” race to be held over the weekend of 20/21 April will see adrenalin-loving volunteers taking part in an 11 mile daredevil obstacle race involving the pier, sand dunes and Marine Lake. Earlier in December former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff posed in a Santa suit on Southport beach.

The Paignton branch of supermarket chain Asda has donated £300 towards the replacement of lights on the front entrance of PAIGNTON pier. Pier manager Richard Stevens said : “We were resigned to waiting until next year to even consider replacing the lights, so we are extremely grateful for this generous donation. When it gets dark the pier now stands out like a beacon and furthermore the lights change colour, which is a great effect. We have also been able to replace the traditional bulbs with the latest low energy LED ones.” A spokesman for Asda said: “Paignton pier has such a rich history and we hope everyone can enjoy it for another 100 years in the way it should be seen.”

Notwithstanding our report in the autumn of 2011 we are informed that WESTON-SUPER-MARE BIRNBECK pier did not in fact change hands and is still the property of Urban Splash (South West). The sale to the owners of the adjacent Royal Pier Hotel site, Wahid Samady and Michael Ross, was never completed and the Grade II* listed Eugenius Birch structure continues to deteriorate. As such it is now regarded as Britain’s most threatened pier.

Piers Mediawatch

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.

Channel 4’s six part series How Britain Worked looked at the legacy of Victorian engineering achievements. In the edition shown on 4 November presenter Guy Martin helped repair LLANDUDNO’s Grade II* listed pier, as well as its historic Great Orme tramway and a funfair helter-skelter, in time for the 2012 summer season. The programme included detailed filming of the hazardous business of repairing braces underneath the pier while racing against the oncoming tide and represented probably the finest coverage of present day pier engineering shown on British television to date.

Peter Mullan starred in Channel 4’s powerful drama series The Fear (shown in early December) as a retired “Godfather” wanting to donate some of his ill-gotten criminal gains towards restoring BRIGHTON WEST pier. His scale model of the 21st century rebuild looked really rather good! A disguised WORTHING pier stood in for BRIGHTON PALACE: the series’ location manager was reported as saying it looked more aesthetically pleasing….

BLACKPOOL came under the spotlight on BBC2’s Boxing Day documentary Big Night Out, featuring interviews with Ken Dodd, Cannon & Ball and Bernie Cooper among many others, plus marvellous archive footage and clips from the golden age of summer shows. Several contributors told stories of the dangers of working at the NORTH pier theatre in bad weather!

In Love With Alma Cogan, the feature film shot on CROMER pier in 2010, has been shown at the London Independent Film Festival and also at selected cinemas in Norfolk and elsewhere. The 12A certificate film was directed by Tony Britten and stars Roger Lloyd Pack, Niamh Cusack and Gwyneth Strong.

And finally: The Royal Mail is cracking down on oversized postcards bearing standard rate postage stamps. A double length card of SOUTHWOLD pier incurred a delivery surcharge of £1.09 (including an admin fee of £1). Postcard collector John Mayhew has said that publishers of non-standard size cards should print “Large Letter” in the stamp box.

(With thanks to Tim Mickleburgh, Daphne Wilkinson and Chris Wyatt for their assistance)