The transformation is incredible. I’ve been monitoring the slow process of the beautiful butterfly emerging from its chrysalis for over a year now.
There’s been scaffolding to hold her up, polythene to sheet her down, reels of cabling to light her up, and countless ants in high-vis crawling all over her with heavy equipment at various stages of the painstaking operation to save this historic structure.
The Pier, Cleethorpes, on Lincolnshire’s east coast, first opened on August Bank Holiday, 1873 after its build cost of £8,000 was financed by Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (later LNER). Following additions, demolitions and fire damage, LNER sold The Pier to Cleethorpes Council in 1936. Four years later, it was breached for defence purposes and the isolated seaward section was demolished after WWII, leaving The Pier measuring 335 feet instead of its original 1200 feet.
Between 1986 and 2010, The Pier changed ownership multiple times with several failed attempts at modernisation to change the venue from its original leisure venue to a nightclub. In 2010, The Pier closed and it looked like it would join the long list of piers in the UK to go to wrack and ruin.
In July 2013 it was purchased on a one year lease with an option to buy. The purchase of the building went ahead with financial support from the Regional Growth Fund, and plans to carefully restore the building and revive its traditional beauty with added mod cons were met positively by local people and businesses.
The refurbishment is finally complete and the doors re-opened to the public in August 2015 to showcase a fabulous restaurant, tea room and bar all within the one structure. Weddings and business events are also catered for. The new owner’s vision is for it to remain open for decades to come and for The Pier to serve as a message to local residents that Cleethorpes and North East Lincolnshire is a region to be proud of.
Restoration of important heritage elements, including the three owls stained glass window on the front of the building, have been painstakingly undertaken alongside the addition of new features, such as floor to ceiling windows on one side of the building to capitalise on the dramatic views. It is thought that each owl represents one of the three original Lincolnshire hamlets that combined to create Cleethorpes – Oole, Itterby and Thrunscoe.
The views are certainly dramatic; the coffee’s good too. Sadly, the tide was out today when I visited. More than anything though I’m hugely relieved that The Pier has been saved, refurbished and that it can once again be enjoyed by local people, day trippers and holiday visitors to this small traditional English seaside town.