Birnbeck Pier in Weston-super-Mare awarded £3.5m to save it from collapsing into sea

  • Watch Marina Jenkins' report

Birnbeck Pier in Weston-super-Mare has been awarded more than £3million to help prevent it from collapsing into the sea.

The money - from the National Heritage Fund - will help North Somerset Council begin restoration of the iconic pier, which is more than 100 years old.

The Grade II Listed pier is now in "grave danger", according to the council, with some parts having already collapsed into the sea.

It's been closed to the public since 1994, so it is hoped the funding will allow for public access to resume.

Two people who remember the pier from when it was open to the public is brother and sister - Cathy and Stephen.

"After the war I can remember the first restaurants, the bars, the cafes - it was beautiful", Cathy said.

Stephen added: "But then it all went and unfortunately over the last twenty to twenty five years nobody's spent any money on it."

"We've always had one desire - before we die we must walk over the pier again", Cathy said.

The council, and the RNLI will work alongside Historic England and the National Heritage Memorial Fund to stabilise and restore the legs of the pier, which are at risk of collapsing.

But the work can't begin yet because North Somerset Council still doesn't own the site.

The council is putting a compulsory purchase order on to the current site owner, with a hearing going ahead on the 11th of November.

Cllr Mark Canniford for North Somerset Council said: "It has been frustrating that it's taken 12 months to even get this far but I think the important message today is that we're already being backed by the funders.

"That's only going to put pressure on the current owners because he can see that everybody but him wants to see it in the ownership of the local authority and the RNLI."

The pier will become a base again for the RNLI, who used to have a lifeboat station on the Island more than 100 years ago, before it became too dangerous for crews to walk across in 2014.

Andrew Stone, Western-super-Mare RNLI Helm said: "At the moment were facing just mud and a long terrain of hard sand.

"We struggle with it at the moment so going back to Birnbeck will be much better."