Clevedon Pier has been named Pier of the Year 2021, in what its chairman has described as a ‘perfect tribute’ to all those who helped it to meet the challenges of the pandemic.
The historic North Somerset attraction, which is the only Grade 1 listed pier in the country, was awarded the accolade by the National Piers Society (NPS) in recognition of its community value and the solutions staff and volunteers came up with so it could reopen safely when lockdown restrictions were eased. These included lining the full length of the deck with attractive flower displays to create a one way route which was augmented by traffic lights and a lollipop system.
National Piers Society chairman Tim Wardley said: “Congratulations to Clevedon Pier. Always enterprising and finding ways of adapting to the economic challenges of the Covid pandemic. A worthy winner.”
Clevedon Pier is the only pier to have won the Pier of the Year award three times, having previously been named Pier of the Year in 1999 and 2013.
Phil Curme, Chairman of Clevedon Pier & Heritage Trust, said: “The Pier of the Year 2021 award is the perfect tribute to our wonderful team of staff and volunteers, who worked hard to enable visitors to be welcomed back to the Pier by implementing creative social distancing measures including planting flowers to facilitate a one-way system, and having traffic lights and a lollipop person.
“It is also a tribute to those who have supported the Pier by purchasing plaques, annual passes and souvenirs, and to the thousands of people who visited in 2020 – including hundreds of One Direction fans marking the 10th anniversary of the group, which famously filmed the video for their hit single ‘You and I’ at the Pier.
“The award is a real vote of confidence and a great start for what we hope will be a very successful summer season. A big ‘thank you’ to all of the National Pier Society members who voted, and also to all those who in so many different ways played a part in helping Clevedon Pier meet the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Clevedon Pier, which was opened in 1869, needs to generate an annual surplus of £100,000, to cover running costs and long term maintenance essential to its survival. It faced an uncertain future after being forced to close to visitors during lockdown, and there were fears the Trust would run out of money by autumn 2020, but a financial lifeline was given by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which awarded grants totalling £39,000, and the Architectural Heritage Fund, which provided a £24,600 grant.
Clevedon Pier Business Manager Nicole Laken said: “Last year staff and volunteers came up with a variety of positive solutions to the challenges faced by the Pier because of the pandemic.
“In addition to flower displays along the deck to support social distancing, and a traffic light system for visitors getting refreshments from the Pier pagoda; we marked the 50th anniversary of the collapse of Clevedon Pier with socially distanced activities which included creating an outdoor museum to tell the story of the collapse because we couldn’t open the Pier museum inside the Toll House.”
Phil Curme added: “It was, perhaps, ironic that when we faced the huge challenges of the pandemic last year it was also the 50th anniversary of the collapse of Clevedon Pier on 16 October 1970.
“However, it was also very fitting, as the sort of support all those years ago that led to the Pier being rebuilt was also in evidence last year as we looked for ways to keep the Pier open to visitors.
“We know that when we were able to open it was hugely appreciated by the local community at a time when travel was restricted, and that visitors found the classic walk along our promenade deck out into the Bristol Channel was a way to raise spirits amid the gloom of the Covid-19 storm.”
The National Piers Society was founded under the poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in 1979 and currently has 900 members. The Society’s President is Gavin Henderson CBE, who said: “Three cheers for Clevedon as third time winner of Pier Of The Year! This unique and elegant structure was our founder John Betjeman’s favourite. It is a fitting tribute to all the passionate local endeavour that refused to let it ‘dissapier’.”
National Piers Society Patron Gyles Brandreth sent his congratulations “to the wonderful people at Clevedon Pier – what a fantastic thing it is to achieve the triple whammy!”
Clevedon Pier is open seven days a week, with some restrictions in place to ensure social distancing. The management team is hoping to have most areas of the Pier fully operational by the summer. For further information, please go to www.clevedonpier.co.uk