The National Piers Society (http://www.piers.org.uk/) lists 58 piers in the UK currently surviving – some are in better condition than others. Most piers are predominantly on the English coastline. Undoubtedly at one time a stroll along the pier was a part of the Great British holiday: as traditional as fish and chips (lashings of salt and vinegar), sandcastles and candy floss. Maybe it still is. If I’m totally honest with you I’m not a big fan of piers; I have always considered them to be somewhat tacky and dated with their amusements and stalls. One exception comes to mind – that is the modern pier at Southwold on the Suffolk coast. Re-built after many years of campaigning in 2001, it’s a nice place to mooch around after visiting the Lord Nelson (http://www.thelordnelsonsouthwold.co.uk/) on East Street which is above the pier and has wonderful coastal views and cracking beers. I’ve spent many a day out there when I used to live in the region - in all seasons mind – and usually on a Saturday afternoon. But I digress...
The seaside resort of Redcar on the North East coast has recently announced plans to re-introduce a pier as part of its ambitious redevelopment plans. The original pier was breached in WWII to prevent its use by invasion forces and further damage was caused by the east coast floods in 1953. It was eventually deemed unsafe in 1980 after subsequent storm damage and demolished a year later.
Redcar was used as one of the locations for the film Atonement (2007) – depicting scenes from the Dunkirk landings.
Redcar and Cleveland local authority announced plans to introduce an 80ft vertical pier as part of its £75m regeneration programme. Vertical? What have I been drinking, this afternoon? It’s true however... Not so much a stroll along the pier but full scale alpinism, no less. What fun! Presumably ice-axes will be issued in winter. Health and Safety and all that...
The pier is described as a stunning architectural design and new iconic feature for Redcar seafront. There will be a public viewing platform at the top with dramatic sea views.
“Where’s that wind coming from, Elsie?”
“Not sure, Bert – but I know where it’s going to!”
The pier is a £1.6m partnership investment by the local authority, ONE North East and the European Regional Development Fund and construction starts imminently.
Unsurprisingly the vertical pier: no name yet, that is to be suggested by members of the public (http://www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk/regeneration-rcbc.nsf/seaside_landmark?readForm) – why not give it a go!: has not been received favourably by some. The public’s response to the Redcar and Cleveland local authority “Love it, Hate it” consultation was overwhelmingly in favour of a traditional seafront with a proper pier. The council’s response was to produce a plan that disregarded the much-loved wooden seafront shelters and introduced the 80ft vertical pier.
The pier is the brainchild of Harrogate-based landscape architects Smeeden Foreman, who won an open design competition led by RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects). Plans for the structure were approved by the council’s planning committee in November 2010.
Interesting fact - in Britain in 1993, three people required hospital treatment after accidents with their tea-cosies.