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  1. ITV Report

Four decades since Hunstanton pier destroyed by storms

Remains of Hunstanton pier Credit: ITV News Anglia

There are ambitious plans to build a new pier at one of the region's leading seaside towns, replacing the one destroyed forty years ago.

The original pier was washed away on January 11th 1978 during a storm that caused chaos around the East Anglian coast, with West Norfolk particularly badly hit.

The 830-foot pier had opened in 1870. A pavilion was added a few years later but this was lost in a fire in 1939.

John Bridger's vision is to see a new pier stretching out into the Wash. He's chairman of the town's Heritage Community Pier Trust, and hopes it could be in place within five to six years. It could cost between £6-£10m

Hunstanton pier Credit: ITV News Anglia

"They key is to make a pier that makes enough money to keep itself in business. We haven't done a very big survey yet but we have plenty indications that practically everybody we speak to says 'yes, how wonderful. I remember the pier when. The effect of a properly functioning pier with a good business offering is transformational for the local economy."

– John Bridger

In some places, the tidal surge in 1978 was higher than 1953 when hundreds died in floods along the East coast.

The Clarkson Hospital in Wisbech had to be evacuated and was closed for weeks. An elderly woman was found dead in her flooded house.

Scores of caravans and chalets were destroyed in the storm, with hundreds of people rescued from their homes. Reporter Greg Barnes was covering the story for Anglia TV and found that he too was a victim of the terrible conditions.

"We just couldn't stop the water. It kept fountaining in through the door joins. It began to well up from the floorboards as well and i think in about 15 minutes we were swimming in it. "

– Greg Barnes, Reporter

Very little was left of Hunstanton pier. Recently John Bridger rescued four stumps from the structure that the tide had uncovered.

He plans to place them in the town's time and tide memorial garden this summer and hopes a symbol of the past can be an inspiration for the future.

Click below to see dramatic images from the 1978 storm