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Why our historic piers make the seaside so special

Clacton pier opened 1871 but has changed drastically over the years. Photo: ITV News Anglia

Clacton pier has been in the hands of the local Ball family since 2009. Back then they say it was in need of a facelift and in the last six years they’ve invested heavily in the pier’s future.

The pier started life in 1871 as a jetty for the landing of goods. But it wasn’t long before the day trippers were coming

A theatre and pavilion were added to accommodate them and by the mid 1940s the pier had helped Clacton become one of the country’s leading seaside resorts.

Roy Hudd was one of the many performers to appear at the Ocean Theatre.

Roy Hudd was one of the many performers to appear at the Ocean Theatre. Credit: Roy Hudd

“It was the most important step up I think to go from a show that maybe had a couple of dancers to a row of dancing girls, singers and a big orchestra it was so exciting and I was there as the principle comedian which was terrific.”

– Roy Hudd, Comedian
The pier theatres in Clacton are long gone. Credit: Roy Hudd

The theatres though are long gone. It’s the amusements that now bring in the crowds.

60% of the pier is in the water most of the time and at least once a week engineers are underneath the pier carrying out checks and each day carpenters are inspecting the boards.

By the mid 1940s the pier had helped Clacton become one of the country’s leading seaside resorts. Credit: Roy Hudd

Being in the private sector, managing director of Clacton pier Billy Ball says there are many grants he can’t apply for and he believes there should be more financial support to keep these historic structures standing.

“At the turn of the last century there was over a hundred piers and this time 2015 there’s just over 50 with probably half of those suffering from massive areas of closure where there simply isn’t the revenue available in the modern day.”

– Billy Ball, Managing Direct, Clacton Pier

Click below to watch a special report on the history of Clacton pier by ITV News Anglia's Victoria Lampard

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