Felixstowe Pier in 2008, before refurbishment
|Official name||Felixstowe Pier|
|Total length||450 feet (140 m)|
Felixstowe Pier is a pleasure pier in the Edwardian seaside town of Felixstowe, Suffolk, England. The pier opened in August 1905 with a total length of 2,640 feet (800 m) with its own railway station and was once one of the longest in the country. Steamer services operated from the pier to various destinations.
During the war, the pier was sectioned to reduce the risk of enemy invasion, which it never fully recovered from, resulting in the pierhead being demolished after the war, having been left to deteriorate.
In 2017, a new shoreend structure was opened to the public at a cost of £3m, offering family entertainments as part of a wider regeneration scheme for the local area.
Having been promoted in 1903, the pier opened in August 1905 at a length of 2,640 feet (800 m), making it at the time one of the longest in the country; the pier was the last of a trio built for the Coast Development Company, which had been formed by a merger between Belle Steamers Limited and other local companies in 1898. The pier was constructed using timber, rather than iron, which was unusual for this period, though foreign timbers such as Jarrah and Greenheart had been increasing in popularity due to their resistance against worms and being more cost effective. A 3ft 6in gauge electric tram service operated to and from the pier head. Paddle steamer boat services took visitors to and from other resorts for 1 penny, including London Bridge and Great Yarmouth at a time when steamers faced competition from railway services.
The Coast Development Corporation succeeded the Coast Development Company in 1905, but subsequently went into liquidation 10 years later in 1915 and were acquired by East Coast Piers Limited, who continued operation of the tram system during the summer season.
The pier was sectioned during the war by the Royal Engineers for defence purposes to prevent enemy invasion, which included the indefinite suspension of the tram system which never resumed after the war. Its seaward end was neglected during the war and was ultimately demolished once the war was over, with further reductions in its length occurring during the 1950s.
Various repair and renovation plans were proposed over the years, including in 1996 for a repair project that was estimated to cost around £2.5m. Separately in 1999, a charity trust was established to aid refurbishment, aiming to raise £15m but no progress was made due to lack of listed status and the project was abandoned in 2002. The owners submitted a demolition request in 2004.
A project to rebuild the pier's main building was approved by councillors in 2012, with anticipation that work in demolishing the old pier building could occur several months later. The rebuild was delayed primarily due to costs in achieving good value for money, as well as negotiations regarding additional land required for the new structure that wasn't owned by the pier owners. The council received nine letters of objection to the project, including complaints that the new structure's size may obscure the view of the sea; in contrast, seven letters were received in support, including people saying it would be a boost to tourism and help wider regeneration of the local area.
In August 2017, a new £3 million pier and building opened to visitors with the official opening in October 2017, as part of a wider regeneration scheme for the area. The new structure includes a bowling alley, arcade machines and wraparound boardwork. The pier decking extending over the sea remained, however due to safety concerns, visitors are not able to walk the entire length, which has been inaccessible since around 1999 due to corrosion and rotten timer beams supporting the pier deck. The original plan involved demolishing this section of pier until an alternate proposal to retain it was put forward.
- Bounds 2016, Chapter 9.
- "Felixstowe 'heaving' as new pierhead brings extra visitors to coast". Ipswich Star. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "Felixstowe Pier at Piers.org.uk". Piers.org.uk. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "Felixstowe Pier: Past & Present". Visit Woodbridge. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "See pictures of latest works of new Felixstowe Pier, on schedule for August opening". Ipswich Star. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "Felixstowe Pier renovation plans unveiled". BBC News. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "Felixstowe pier officially opens – and the seaside town is booming". Ipswich Star. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "Felixstowe: Pier project delayed as it suffers costs setback". Ipswich Star. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "Felixstowe Pier rebuilding plans recommended for approval". BBC News. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "Car park closed as Felixstowe Pier revamp finally gets under way". Ipswich Star. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- Bounds, Jon (2016). Pier Review: A Road Trip in Search of the Great British Seaside (1st ed.). Summersdale Publishers. ISBN 9781783727513.
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