Southend Pier damaged by barge

07/09/2011

The Essex Enquirer reports that  Southend Pier has been forced to close after a barge collided with the seaside landmark causing ‘significant’ structural damage.

Extreme weather conditions and heavy swell on Monday night saw a barge moored to the Pier collide with vital supports underneath the 178-year-old landmark making the structure unsafe and buckling a section of the much-loved 1.33 mile long walkway.

The early morning incident saw the popular tourist attraction immediately closed to the public as structural engineers attended the scene to assess the level of damage caused by the collision.

The barge, which has now been safely towed away, was being used to store steel for contractors working on replacing the Pier’s fire main.

The Pier dates back to 1833 but has suffered a troubled recent history since the Southend Borough Council considered closure of the ageing in the early 1980’s.

Over £1 million was then spent redeveloping the Pier after public outcry over a possible closure only for the MV Kingsabbey to slice through the newly refurbished Pier exactly 25 years ago in 1986.

Since then the structure has suffered many setbacks from debilitating fires and arson attacks – the most recent being in October 2005 when the Old Pier Head was destroyed preventing access to the RNLI Lifeboat Station.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Culture and Tourism, Cllr Derek Jarvis, reacted to the most recent incident saying: “Southend Pier is an iconic attraction and experts are assessing the level of damage, considering how best to repair this as quickly as possible.

“We can confirm that the area of the Pier struck by the barge is not the part which is the subject of a planning application due to be considered shortly by the Council’s Development Control committee.

 

“This is a proposal to develop and enhance the Pier Head, giving even more to offer our residents and visitors.”

 

 

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