Compiled by Anthony Wills
On July 30 came the sad news that English Heritage felt unable to pursue its last-ditch restoration plan for BRIGHTON WEST. The collapse of the Concert Hall and other damage caused by the freak weather in June had, in EH’s view, “tipped the balance” in terms of loss of Birch structure, to the point where Restoration had become Rebuild. On 10 August property company St Modwyns formally withdrew from their development partnership with the West Pier Trust.
BOURNEMOUTH Council, which failed to conclude a deal for a single commercial operator to take over the pier, has had a full structural survey carried out prior to making a fresh attempt to outsource the various concessions individually.
The Friends of QUEEN’S pier RAMSEY (I.O.M.) held their Annual General Meeting at Ramsey Town Hall on 8 September, and were informed that the latest estimate for restoring the listed (and long closed) structure was £7.24 million (though this figure excludes the cost of providing a new entrance building or reinstating the tramway). Consultants BWB added in their report, which is being considered by the island’s Transport Department, that the ideal solution in terms of cost and timescale would be renewal rather than repair.
Tributes have been paid to mother and son Doris and Geoffrey Thompson, chairman and managing director respectively of BLACKPOOL Pleasure Beach, who died within two weeks of each other in the summer. Geoffrey was aged 67 and his mother Doris reached the incredible age of 101.
A letter penned by author Charles Dickens and written on BRIGHTON CHAIN pier headed paper in 1867 has been auctioned in Lewes for £700.
Audiences for summer season shows at GREAT YARMOUTH BRITANNIA pier have been poor, decreasing the chances of the neighbouring WELLINGTON pier theatre reverting to traditional stage presentations once it is restored.
Two royal pier visits took place this summer. On 19 July the Earl & Countess of Wessex visited SOUTHPORT to open the new Marine Way Bridge, which runs parallel to the pier. Prince Edward also took the train down the pier and inspected the award-winning pavilion. Nine days later (28 July) the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited BOURNEMOUTH pier and met 60 World War II veterans. The royal couple were presented with a special stick of Bournemouth rock as a memento of their visit.
A grandfather of 63 has won the National Sandcastle Building Competition and been awarded the title “Master Of Sand”. Neil Barlow beat 200 other contestants at GREAT YARMOUTH on 25 July with his model of a mediaeval Italian village. He was assisted by his 34-year old son and two teenage grandchildren.
SOUTHWOLD pier hosted its annual Jazz Festival from 9 – 12 September, featuring a number of local groups and bands of varying styles, and culminating in a Jazz Songs of Praise at nearby St Edmunds Church.
The Party Conference season this autumn saw Labour in BRIGHTON, with Liberal Democrats and Conservatives both choosing BOURNEMOUTH.
SOUTHEND pier has visits from Santa Claus every weekend from 27 November to 19 December. Santa’s Grotto will be situated in the RNLI gift shop and every child receives a present. For further information telephone 01702 215620.
One of the most historic piers in ATLANTIC CITY, USA is being redeveloped at a cost of US$ 80 million. The Pier at Caesars (due to open next summer) will offer luxury shopping with top-class brands including Burberry, Hermes and Louis Vuitton. At the pier end a three-level water, light and music show will be visible from the boardwalk, where a 40-storey $1 billion hotel, casino and spa complex with no fewer than 2,000 guest rooms is about to open.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast of the USA, a new pier has been under construction on MALIBU BEACH since 1999, at a cost of US $6.2 million. There is however currently no access to the pier end, which contains Alice’s Restaurant and various shops, after unstable pilings were discovered following heavy surf pounding the beach. Interestingly, despite a new ordinance issued by the city authorities, smoking is currently permitted on the pier.
Residents and supporters of BOGNOR REGIS have been up in arms over a new quiz show on ITV1, screened in August and September. Bognor or Bust!, a downmarket version of Have I Got News For You, was hosted by Angus Deayton. Members of the studio audience were “assisted” by celebrities to win overseas holidays, the booby prize being a weekend in Bognor. Cue for shots of a windswept Bognor seafront, including the pier.
PALACE pier was prominently featured in Channel 4’s deeply boring documentary series Missing You Already (22 July), which focussed on the trial separation of BRIGHTON couple Jenny and Geoff.
The Saturday Telegraph of 24 July featured a striking double page photograph of SOUTHPORT’s new pier pavilion to illustrate Dominic Bradbury’s article on the architectural regeneration of English coastal resorts.
In BBC-2’s Inventions That Changed The World on 27 July Jeremy Clarkson looked at the sad life of Scottish television pioneer John Logie Baird, who spent some years living in HASTINGS – cue for striking shots of the Eugenius Birch pier.
The Guardian review section of 4 August featured Lyn Gardner reflecting on the growing success of summer entertainment on the east coast, namely the Sheringham and Southwold repertory companies and the phenomenon that is Seaside Special at the newly revamped CROMER pier pavilion. The Times of the same date reprinted in its On This Day feature a 1932 report on the destruction by fire of the Floral Hall at GREAT YARMOUTH BRITANNIA.
NPS Chairman Anthony Wills appeared on BBC Radio 2’s Brian Hayes Programme on 10 August, discussing the Brighton West crisis and debating the merits of piers in general with sceptical journalist Matthew Parris – the subsequent email and phone response from listeners came down firmly in favour of preserving as many of the remaining structures as possible. NPS Vice-President Tim Mickleburgh had a letter on Brighton West published in the Daily Telegraph of 4 August.
Both BRIGHTON piers were in evidence in BBC-1’s missing persons documentary The Day They Disappeared shown on 17 August.
SOUTHEND pier out of season was the setting for Radio 4’s Afternoon Play At The End Of The Pier, broadcast on 19 August, in which a couple walked the pier, ostensibly for the purpose of research, but in reality to sort out their deteriorating relationship.
BBC-7, the excellent digital radio channel devoted to the Corporation’s extensive sound archive, has been featuring episodes from the 1970s Dad’s Army spin-off It Sticks Out Half A Mile, starring John Le Mesurier, Ian Lavender and Bill Pertwee. The series was set on and around the fictional pier at Frambourne-on-Sea, “somewhere along the south coast”.
BBC Radio 4’s Saturday morning travel programme Excess Baggage on 25 September was mainly devoted to the ascent and decline of the British seaside. Nigel Morgan, Director of Graduate Studies in Tourism & Leisure at Cardiff University, Ian McInnes of the 20th Century Society and entertainer Bernie Clifton joined presenter Sandi Toksvig in a discussion in which piers received a surprisingly cursory mention.
ITV1’s The South Bank Show on 26 September profiled maverick British composer Malcolm Arnold, revealing that in his youth he had played trumpet in the resident orchestra on LLANDUDNO pier.
Digital TV channel BBC3’s cult comedy series Little Britain, which returned for a new series on 19 October, featured actors Matt Lucas and David Walliams in drag cycling past the pier along SOUTHWOLD seafront.
On the Big Screen, romantic tennis comedy Wimbledon – in cinemas during October – when not on Centre Court or at the Dorchester Hotel, has an extended middle sequence on BRIGHTON seafront, with PALACE pier prominent but WEST seemingly airbrushed out!