Clacton Pier crowned Pier of the Year in what bosses call the 'perfect morale booster'

Watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Victoria Lampard

Clacton Pier has been crowned Pier of the Year in what its director called a "perfect morale booster" at a difficult time.

The Essex attraction reopened to the public on July 4 as lockdown measures were eased, having been closed since late March.

It was named as 2020 Pier of the Year by the National Piers Society on Thursday, pipping second-placed Clevedon Pier and third-placed Brighton Palace Pier.

Credit: The Clacton Pier Company Ltd

The society said the award recognised a decade of improvements made by Clacton Pier's owners, brothers Billy and Elliot Ball.

Clacton Pier opened in 1871 and was lengthened to 1,180ft (360m) in 1893 with the addition of a theatre and pavilion.

The National Piers Society said it is the largest pleasure pier in Europe by surface area, covering 6.5 acres. When the brothers bought the pier in 2009, just two of those acres were in use.

It now boasts many rides including a helter-skelter and two-tier adventure golf course, with a new rollercoaster and log flume due to be added in the future.

Credit: ITV News Anglia

The installation of the pier's new Looping Star rollercoaster was delayed when, during structural work in February, a section of the outdoor ride deck collapsed into the sea.

Billy Ball said at the time that the work was being carried out in an area that was closed to the public. It was carried out "under controlled conditions at a time when the tide was up and no-one was under the pier", he said, adding that nobody was injured in the incident.

The owners say they still have big plans for Clacton Pier in the future Credit: The Clacton Pier Company Ltd

The National Piers Society said the investment and determination of the owners was clear to see and that's why, out of 61 piers across the country, they were given the award.