Members of the National Piers Society award their 24th annual prize to CLACTON PIER recognising a decade of improvements made by owners Billy and Elliot Ball. CLEVEDON PIER was voted in second place, followed by BRIGHTON PALACE PIER in third.
The largest pleasure pier in Europe
The winning pier at Clacton is the largest pleasure pier in Europe covering 6.5 acres. When Billy and Elliot Ball bought it in 2009 only 2 of those acres were in use. Since then the brothers have worked on turning the whole space into ‘No. 1 North Sea’, an attraction with something for all ages, available 52 weeks of the year. Today Clacton Pier boasts a unique two-tier Adventure Golf course, extensive soft play, food and drink venues, outdoor rides including the Helter Skelter and Roller Coaster as well as 10-pin bowling and arcades.
The ultimate ‘candyfloss’ pier
Clacton Pier opened on 27 July 1871, the brainchild of Peter Bruff the Victorian entrepreneur behind the development of Clacton itself. Originally intended as a landing stage for passing boats, the pier proved a great attraction to visitors and was lengthened to 1,180ft (360m) in 1893 when it also got its first theatre, a building which survives at the seaward end.
After World War I, Ernest Kingsman’s 1922 purchase of Clacton Pier began a new heyday. Kingsman added theatres, a dance hall, Crystal Casino amusements and Britain’s only open-air swimming pool on a pier. Despite damage during World War II the pier bounced back in the 1950s but as the late-twentieth century downturn in seaside economies hit Clacton, attractions on the ultimate ‘candyfloss’ pier suffered. Having long-dreamt of owning the pier, Billy and Elliot Ball have successfully transformed its fortunes.
Billy Ball, director and co-owner of Clacton Pier, said it is a fantastic honour to be named Pier of the Year 2020: “We were delighted to come runner-up last year and to go one better this year really is the icing on the cake,” he said. “This has been an incredibly difficult time for all 61 piers around the country and to pick up the award is the perfect morale booster for us. We are truly grateful to all those who voted for us and thank them for their faith in us. To top the list ahead of such great attractions as Brighton’s Palace Pier is a real accolade and will spur us on to even greater things.”
President of the National Piers Society, Gavin Henderson, is “delighted that National Piers Society members have bestowed the coveted award on Clacton. The investment and determination of the owners was clear for us all to see on our visit last year, and I wish them every future success. A most worthy recipient.”
The Society’s Chairman, Tim Wardley, added that “Seaside piers have long been prime generators of inward investment to the resorts they serve and are the beating hearts of seaside communities. The millions of pounds invested in Clacton Pier by Billy and Elliot Ball are a demonstration of their commitment to both the tourist industry and their home town. I wish them every success as they continue to work hard to bring an all-weather year-round attraction to Clacton.”
For further information please contact Kathryn Ferry, Media Relations Officer, National Piers Society on 07941 805673 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Nigel Brown email@example.com 07775 530242