Grand Pier, Weston-super-Mare
|Official name||Grand Pier|
|Locale||Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, England|
|Owner||Michelle & Kerry Michael|
|Total length||400 m (1,300 ft)|
|Width||Promenade 13 m (43 ft)
Pavilion 65 m (213 ft)
|Opening date||11 June 1904|
The pier is privately owned and is one of three in the town together with Birnbeck Pier, which stands derelict awaiting possible restoration, and the much shorter SeaQuarium aquarium built towards the south end of the seafront. It is supported by 600 iron piles, and is 400 metres (1,300 ft) long.
The Grand Pier has been damaged by fire on two occasions, in 1930 and 2008. Following the 2008 fire, which completely destroyed the pavilion, the pier was rebuilt at a cost of GB£39 million and reopened on 23 October 2010.
Work began on building the pier on 7 November 1903, with P. Munroe acting as engineer, and it opened on 11 June 1904. At the pier's end was a 2,000 seat theatre which was used as a music hall and for opera, stage plays and ballet. On 16 May 1907 an extension of the pier measuring 500 yards (1,500 ft) was opened, with the intention that the pier would be used as a docking point for boats to Cardiff. The dangerous currents in the bay made this too difficult, however, and the extension was demolished.
The theatre at the pier's end was destroyed by fire on 13 January 1930. As the building was underinsured the pier was put up for sale and bought by Leonard Guy, who opened a GB£60,000 new pavilion three years later. This second pavilion housed a large undercover funfair rather than a theatre.
The pier was sold in 1946 to Mr. A Brenner, who went on to improve the pier's facilities, adding new shops and an amusement arcade to the pavilion in the early 1970s. As a result of the extra investment, the pier became a Grade II listed building in 1974. It won the National Piers Society Pier of the Year award in 2001. One scene from the film The Remains of the Day was filmed here in 1992.
Brenner continued his ownership of the pier until 6 February 2008, when it was sold to brother and sister partnership Kerry and Michelle Michael. The pier immediately underwent a multi-million-pound revamp, which included a new branding scheme. GB£1 million was spent installing a new go-kart track, a fully licenced bar, and a climbing wall into the pavilion. However at 01:35 BST on 28 July 2008, a fire at the foot of the north tower on the shoreward (eastern) end of the pavilion triggered the privately monitored fire alarm, but the Essex-based alarm monitoring company were unable to contact the key-holder by mobile phone and no further action was taken. It was not until 06:46 BST that the Avon Fire and Rescue Service was notified. It deployed 13 fire engines, special appliances, and more than 85 firefighters to tackle the blaze, but the building was soon destroyed.
Robert Tinker, a Grand Pier employee, was later praised by the fire brigade as he braved the extreme intensity of the heat from the flames to rush around the side of the building to remove several gas canisters which had been stored within the premises, had these not been removed the fire brigade claimed that the blaze could have been much worse, with the possibility of local residents and traders needing to be evacuated. Preliminary investigations suggested that the fire started due to a number of deep fat fryers which had been located within the area pavilion, however after further investigation this was later ruled out, as was arson. On 22 October 2008 at a news conference held by the fire brigade it was announced that the cause of the fire would be recorded as unknown, but that the most likely cause was electrical.
Work began dismantling the wreckage on 12 September 2008, and the Bristol architects Angus Meek won the contract to design the new pavilion on 15 October. North Somerset Council approved the plans, which also included a rotating observation tower 91 metres (299 ft) in height, on 12 March 2009. Contractors John Sisk and Son were selected to construct the new pavilion, which was expected to be completed by June 2010, but was delayed following several setbacks and instead reopened in time for half-term break on 23 October 2010. The opening day attracted more than 52,000 visitors, and an estimated 100,000 for the whole weekend.
In January 2013, security company System 2 Security Limited was proven in court to be responsible for the fire damage to the pier in 2008 due to negligence. Kerry and Michelle Michael, the pier owners, were awarded GB£30 million by a judge at Bristol Mercantile Court.
- Dunk, Marcus (29 July 2008). "Tragic loss of a monument to a gentler holiday age". Daily Mail. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
- "Fire destroys UK historic pier". Brunei Times. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
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- "Grand Pier". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
- "Weston Grand Pier — History". Weston and Somerset Mercury. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
- Savill, Richard (28 July 2008). "Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier fire wreaks havoc". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 August 2008.
- Sly, Nicola (2010). A grim almanac of Somerset. Stroud: History Press. p. 14. ISBN 9780752458144.
- de Bruxelles, Simon (29 July 2008). "Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare 'will be rebuilt'". London: The Times. Retrieved 11 August 2008.
- "National Piers Society News July 2001". National Piers Society. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
- "Filming locations for The Remains of the Day". Internet Movie Database. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- "Weston pier destroyed by fire". Avon Fire and Rescue Service. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
- "Pier fire alert contract cancelled month before blaze". The Daily Telegraph (London). 22 October 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- "Huge fire destroys historic pier". BBC News. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 31 July 2008.
- "Weston Grand Pier — Close up images from employee Robert Tinker". The Weston Mercury. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
- "Pier blaze 'probably electrical'". BBC News. 22 October 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
- "Burnt pavilion to be dismantled". BBC News. 12 September 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2008.
- "Winning design for pier pavilion". BBC News. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2008.
- "Grand Pier wins planning approval". Weston & Somerset Mercury. 12 March 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
- "£28 million plan for Weston Pier revealed". This Is Bristol. 7 December 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2008.
- "Weston-super-Mare's refurbished pier attracts 100,000 despite wind and rain". The Guardian. 24 October 2010. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
- "Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier fire: Alarm firm blamed". BBC News Online. 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier.|
- Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier Official Website
- Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier Official YouTube Channel
- Webcam showing the work on the location of the destroyed Pavilion (updated approximately once per minute)
- Grand Pier microsite by the Weston & Somerset Mercury
- Grand Pier microsite by the BBC
- Fire destroys iconic pier – ITV West
- Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier fire wreaks havoc – Daily Telegraph