Article by David Knowles, Chairman Southport Pier Trust.
The campaign to Save Southport Pier was launched in February 1991 when a group of enthusiasts came together to start fund raising. By 1994 Sefton Council and Sefton Chamber of Commerce and Industry had formed the Southport Pier Trust (SPT).
By 1999, Sefton Council and the Pier Trust had been successful in obtaining significant financial support from both the Heritage Lottery Fund and from the European Merseyside Objective 1 Programme to place a contract for the restoration work.
Southport Pier is the oldest remaining pleasure pier, constructed in 1860, and the second longest pier in Britain. During its lifetime it has suffered the ravages of fire, partial collapse, pavilions have been built and rebuilt. The first decline of the Pier occurred in 1923 when the last paddle steamer service from North Wales ceased. Southport Pier was listed as a Grade 2 building in 1976 as a structure of special architectural and historic interest. Later with the growth of foreign holidays, Southport along with its pier went into decline. The pier was closed to the public in 1998 for safety reasons.
|Artist impression of Southport Pier
The first phase of restoration
Southport Pier is being restored in two phases; the £6 million first phase involves the complete restoration or replacement of all the components of the pier up to deck level as it was in 1860/1864. The tram track has been relocated down the centre of the pier to reflect the original position of the track in 1863 and a tram interchange station has been constructed at the crossing of the pier with Marine Drive. The pier deck has been widened to give more effective usage by pedestrians. In addition, the shell of the new modern pavilion, or Interpretation Centre, has been constructed. This center will display information on the local history and wildlife.
|Artist impression of Interpretation Centre
The second phase of restoration
In order to complete the restoration there are an additional ten projects to be undertaken; they are:
Complete plank sponsorship campaign
Fit out interpretation centre and restaurant
Provide beacon & proposed communications mast
Install deck lighting over whole length of pier
Repair and restore two Victorian shelters
Fit out the old engine house into a facility for SPT
Provide necessary security facilities
Replace tram station at pier entrance
Provide new entrance to the pier
The Southport Pier Trust, working closely with Sefton Council, is currently developing the costed designs for these projects. The best present estimate of the total cost of Phase 2 is about £2 million.
The key project is the fitting out of the interpretation centre and the restaurant. This will promote the local heritage and natural environment of the Sefton Coast and the pier. Other elements being investigated are energy, radio communications and information technology.
|Artist impression of Communications Mast
It is intended that the restored pier will be managed and operated under a 25 year lease from Sefton Council. In anticipation of this, SPT has launched a major fund raising campaign and so far has raised nearly a quarter of a million pounds. This has been achieved mainly from the successful Plank Sponsorship Campaign and from a proposed provision of a communication mast.