Archive April 2004
Compiled by Anthony Wills
reported elsewhere, the Heritage Lottery Fund has withdrawn its
financial commitment towards restoring the Grade I Listed BRIGHTON
WEST pier. This despite the supportive report issued by English
Heritage last November.
Further to our report in PIERS 70, HYTHE pier reopened for
business on 7 January. The 75 ft. breach was repaired in record
time following a financial settlement between the pier owners and
the company responsible for the dredger which crashed into the
structure on 1 November 2003. On 19 March the 37-year old skipper
of the vessel was jailed for eight months at Southampton Crown
Demolition of FELIXSTOWE pier, long closed to visitors apart from
the arcade at the entrance, has moved a step closer with the
winding-up of the charitable trust formed five years ago to save
it. The structure has been handed back to its owners Pier
Amusements Ltd., who have applied to the local council to demolish
it. A feasibility study into a new hi-tech pier incorporating a
revolving restaurant and viewing deck will not go ahead, as the
necessary £50,000 cost has not been raised.
The National Piers Society has made representations to the Isle of
Man Government regarding the continuing delays in carrying out
repairs to the island's only pier, the QUEEN'S at RAMSEY, which
has been closed on safety grounds for several years.A freak tide
on 15 December 2003, the highest in the area for 20 years,
destroyed 19 beach huts and damaged decking on SOUTHWOLD pier.
2004 came in with a bang at CROMER pier, where a 20-minute
firework display was held after dark on New Year's Day.
Contractors Mowlems then began the task of altering and extending
the theatre to provide extra seating, a new bar and foyer in time
for the 2004 summer season. As a result the annual Folk Festival,
normally held on the pier, will be staged at a greenfield site on
Runton Road between May 6-9.
SOUTHSEA SOUTH PARADE saw plenty of activity during the winter
months. In addition to a fortnightly Rock promotion in the Gaiety
Bar on Tuesdays, a Psychic Fair was held on 24/25 January. The
amusement arcade is well patronised and now boasts a cash machine.
On a sadder note, a 28-year old man, Nathan Willoughby, died after
diving off the pier shortly before 1.30 a.m. on 17 February. He
and two friends had stripped naked after drinking heavily. His
friends survived with minor injuries because they jumped off the
pier feet first.
WESTON-SUPER-MARE GRAND, normally closed throughout the winter
months, opened specially for half-term week in February and
received quite a few visitors, thanks to sunny weather conditions.
The pier celebrates its centenary this year. Its website
www.grandpierwsm.com, which was rated bottom of the pile in a
PIERS survey in 2002, has been totally redesigned.
WORTHING residents have voted to pay an extra 35p a week in
Council Tax to keep the Pier Pavilion open for shows, as well as
the Connaught theatre, Museum and Aquarena swimming complex. A
less rosy future seems on the cards for BOURNEMOUTH pier theatre.
Although plans to lease the pier to a private consortium appear to
have stalled Bournemouth Borough Council is planning to mothball
the building, concentrating its energies instead on the nearby
Bournemouth International Centre, whose auditoria are to be
The Annual General Meeting of the SOUTHEND Pier Museum Foundation
was held on 9 March. The Board of Trustees are seeking
compensation from Southend Borough Council for the lack of signage
and restricted access during 2003, which resulted in the lowest
number of visitors since the display opened in 1989. They also
agreed to raise museum entrance fees from 60p to £1 in 2004 (with
free access to members on presentation of their membership card).
This year's exhibition will be on the theme of Seaside
Photographs. Further information from Peggy Dowie on 01702 614553.
The annual BOGNOR Birdman Rally will take place on Sunday 4 July.
Its future had been in doubt after a poor response to appeals for
sponsors to replace the funding supplied by Virgin Atlantic in
2003. The event, while attracting huge crowds and worldwide media
interest, is costly to stage because of security and insurance
requirements, with little direct revenue. Arun District Council
has now agreed extra financial support.
CLEETHORPES would appear to have turned the corner according to
local tourism chiefs, with talk of a new cinema complex, outdoor
arena, gardens and even a new pier, all part of an Integrated
Development Plan funded by Yorkshire Forward and the NELC.
This year's SOUTHPORT Pier Extravaganza will take place on June 19
and 20. For further details phone 01704 395511 or visit
A group of artists who operate collectively under the name of
Talking Birds are aiming to visit 24 piers over the next two
years, collecting people's memories and opinions of them. Using
audio and video equipment they will fictionalise the stories,
fusing them into one cumulative story with 24 chapters, which will
be displayed on their website. This piers odyssey begins in
WORTHING in April, so if you would like to get involved please
contact NPS member Janet Vaughan on 024 7622 9816 or email email@example.comThis
e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need
MEDIAWATCH Compiled by ANTHONY WILLS
The devastating news of the Heritage Lottery Fund's withdrawal of
its £14 million grant towards the restoration of BRIGHTON WEST was
largely buried amidst the brouhaha of the Hutton report and
resignations at the BBC, but The Times ran a prominent article on
29 January. The Guardian and The Independent also covered the
story on the same day. On 4 March the Brighton Argus reported that
the HLF had rejected an appeal against its decision. One reader
suggested a boycott of the Palace Pier.
BBC-2's Crafty Tricks Of War, screened on 6 January, featured
wartime footage of WESTON-SUPER-MARE BIRNBECK being used for trial
experiments by the Royal Navy's Dept. of Miscellaneous Weapons
Development. Makes a change from Weapons of Mass Destruction!
BBC East's Inside Out on 12 January featured engineer Tim Hunkin,
inventor of the Water Clock and other amusement machines installed
on SOUTHWOLD pier.
One little known fact in the numerous tributes to comedian Bob
Monkhouse, who died in December 2003, was that while barely a
teenager he came second in a talent contest on WORTHING pier. The
same pier featured in the 1987 film Wish You Were Here, starring
Emily Lloyd and Tom Bell and shown on Channel 4 on 13 January.
BBC-1's cheesy travel series Perfect Holiday kicked off on 14
January with the resident experts meeting singer Fiona on
BLACKPOOL NORTH pier and deciding to send her and her best friend
to California, where she also got to visit the pier on Venice
Our new Pier Of The Year BLACKPOOL NORTH and its theatre were also
prominently featured in Channel 5's showbiz documentary Bad Boys
of Comedy on 11 February. This edition was devoted to madcap
entertainer Freddie Starr, who headlined on the pier in the 1973
summer season. He paid a nostalgic visit backstage with his third
BRIGHTON was the destination of doomed adulterers Maurice and
Sarah in the 1999 screen adaptation of Graham Greene's wartime
novel The End Of The Affair, starring Ralph Fiennes and Julianne
Moore, and shown on Channel 4 on 14 February. The film contains
plenty of shots of PALACE pier as well as the Royal Pavilion.
Budding photographer Kate Haddon chose LLANDUDNO pier for her
entry in the "food & entertainment" section of the Times/Tabasco
Young Photographer of The Year competition, which offers the
winner a chance to be trained in all aspects of photo-journalism.
Her amusing entry was pictured in the paper on 17 February.
The south coast received a blast of wintry weather at the end of
February, captured by photographer Mike Simmonds in his dramatic
shot of BOURNEMOUTH pier frozen in time, published in The Guardian
on 28 February.
The National Piers Society is grateful to all those who
contributed information to this section.
- Hythe Pier breached by a dredger
- English Heritage to stay with
Brighton West plan
- Colwyn Bay Pier changes ownership
- Bridlington trying for a new pier
- Other news
- Media Watch