Compiled by Anthony Wills
A huge conflagration has destroyed buildings on the end of SOUTHEND pier. The fire was spotted late on Sunday 9 October. It began in the Jolly Fisherman pub and quickly spread to other areas, including the railway station. PS Waverley had landed passengers at the pier earlier that day. No-one was injured. Firefighters were hampered by the low tide. The pier has been closed until further notice. Arson has not been ruled out.
Following the General Election in May there have been changes in ministerial responsibilities at the Department of Culture, Media & Sport. Tessa Jowell continues as Secretary of State, while David Lammy (MP for Tottenham since 2000) becomes Minister for Culture with responsibility for Arts, Heritage, Museums and Galleries & Libraries. James Purnell (MP for Stalybridge and Hyde) is appointed Minister for Broadcasting, Tourism, Licensing and the creative industries including film and music. The Society has written to both ministers welcoming them to their posts. Teresa May (MP for Maidenhead) replaces Julie Kirkbride as Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport.
The battle to save the art deco theatre at GREAT YARMOUTH WELLINGTON has been lost. The local authority, which owns the pier, has granted lessees Family Amusements Ltd. permission for a change of use to D2, which theoretically includes a cinema and bowling alley, but in reality will mean a further large amusement arcade on Great Yarmouth seafront. Surprisingly, English Heritage approved the plans. The Theatres Trust, which campaigned hard to retain the well-equipped theatre, called the decision “a great pity”. It means that only six piers now have working theatres: BLACKPOOL NORTH, BOURNEMOUTH, CROMER, GREAT YARMOUTH BRITANNIA, WEYMOUTH COMMERCIAL and WORTHING.
CROMER Pier Pavilion, home to the famous Seaside Special summer show, suffered rainwater damage during a storm prior to the main season.
North Somerset Council has awarded a grant of £328,000 to the CLEVEDON Pier Trust for essential maintenance to the Grade I listed structure. The pier also has a new Coordinator – Linda Strong.
CLEETHORPES pier has been sold for an undisclosed amount by Luminar Leisure to Candu, a company made up of former Luminar employees. The club will now be open four nights a week from Thursday to Sunday inclusive.
The Chief Executive of Leisure Parcs, Marc Etchings, has left the company to take up a position with independent production company Fifth World Communications. His successor is Chris Sullivan, who is currently “doing the rounds” of the company’s six piers. Meanwhile, there is uproar in BLACKPOOL that for the first summer in years there is no live organ music in the Sun Lounge at NORTH pier. The lounge was badly damaged by a storm on Boxing Day.
BRIGHTON PALACE has been playing host to an “all new” Doctor Who exhibition.
Meanwhile, plans have been put forward to build a monorail – nicknamed the Brighton Bullet – between the pier and Brighton Marina.
BOGNOR REGIS’ annual Festival of Local History, held throughout June, featured guided visits on the pier. The annual Birdman Rally is scheduled to take place there over the weekend of 20/21 August. For full details ring 01243 820531 or visit www.birdman.org.uk The new 4 star Shoreline Hotel within the Butlins South Coast World complex at the eastern end of the Bognor seafront is set to open for business during the same weekend. The annual Sands Of Time Festival takes place in the resort during the weekend of 3-4 September.
SOUTHEND Pier held its Heritage Weekend on 17/18 June. The Pier Museum is open throughout the summer season on Tuesdays and Wednesdays plus weekends and Bank Holidays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., admission £1 (free to children under 12). Special exhibitions this year include Seaside Postcards from 1869 onwards and That’s The Way To Do It!, a history of Punch & Judy.
P.S. Waverley will be based at WEYMOUTH for Cozens Week (Sept 2 – 9) and sails to SWANAGE and BOURNEMOUTH piers on September 2 and YARMOUTH (IOW) on Sept. 9 and 16. On September 22 it sails from WORTHING pier for Folkestone. m.v. Balmoral will be sailing from PENARTH and CLEVEDON piers on various dates in August and September.
PENARTH pier pavilion could become a 1,000-seat cinema/theatre, according to a report in the South Wales Echo of 28 May. The building was not included in the Lottery-financed refurbishment of the pier in 1997 and has been looking increasingly neglected and run-down.
BANGOR pier’s Tourist Information kiosk celebrated its tenth anniversary in June. It is still run by volunteer Betty Pierce, who was named North Wales Woman Of The Year for her efforts in 2001.
Into Jazz as well as Piers? Check out the Festivals at SOUTHPORT (23-26 June) , SWANAGE (15-17 July) and CLEETHORPES (9-11 September).
Although the International Olympic Committee has chosen London to host the 2012 Olympic Games, WEYMOUTH’s Sailing Academy will be the focus of waterborne Olympic activities seven years from now. The Games should dramatically raise the profile of the resort and neighbouring Portland.
The National Trust has called for action to encourage more people to holiday in the UK. The Trust expresses alarm at the UK’s growing tourism balance of payments deficit, which has increased nearly fivefold since 1997 – Brits currently spend £17 billion more abroad than overseas visitors spend here.
A survey carried out in September 2004 found that litter on Britain’s beaches had increased by 82% over the past ten years. According to Beachwatch 2004 one piece of litter is found for every 20 metres of beach. Plastic bags and fishing nets are the main items.
STOP PRESS: Just as we were going to print we heard that FLEETWOOD pier is back on the market, after two recent changes of ownership. The asking price is £1.3 million.
(Thanks to Tim and Anne Mickleburgh, David Cheshire, Peter Hobart, Violet Salter, Ken Wisdom and Steve Wilkinson for their contributions)
MEDIAWATCH Compiled by ANTHONY WILLS
First shown in February and repeated in late April, Channel 4’s documentary The King Of Soho, charting the life of Soho club owner and publisher Paul Raymond, revealed that he had an early career as a mind reader on CLACTON pier.
NPS Chairman Anthony Wills was quoted in a feature on the sale of LOWESTOFT CLAREMONT published in The Independent on 28 April.
In Channel 4’s Relocation Relocation, shown on 18 May, Dean and Samantha Brand moved from Nuneaton to running a pub in SANDOWN, Isle of Wight – cue for plenty of shots of the resort’s pier.
Both the Telegraph and Times of 30 May used dramatic shots of BLACKPOOL NORTH pier in their reports of two young boys who drowned whilst trying to rescue a dog that had been swept out to sea near Gynn Square. These tragic deaths bring the number of drownings at this spot to ten in the past twenty years.
Children’s TV channel CBBC was filming on and around CROMER pier in late May for the SMart series shown on the digital channel on Mondays-Fridays at noon.
The People newspaper of 5 June ran a feature on drug dealing in BLACKPOOL, under the heading “Welcome To Crackpool”. Its reporter was offered crack cocaine and ecstasy tablets from one of dozens of drug pushers along the Golden Mile and in front of the NORTH pier.
Channel 4’s ten part teenage rites of passage drama series Sugar Rush, showing on Mondays from 7 June, is based in BRIGHTON and includes numerous shots of PALACE pier.
Britain’s unpredictable weather saw highs of 32C (90F) in late June followed by flash flooding in North Yorkshire and the South West of England. The Times of 20 June showed a packed BRIGHTON beach with PALACE pier in the background.
The July issue of BBC Music Magazine used a stunning aerial photograph of EASTBOURNE pier to illustrate the connection between the resort and the composer Claude Debussy, who composed his symphonic suite La Mer while staying there in 1907. The Sea is one of the themes of this year’s Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, running from 15 July – 10 September.