Clacton Pier is crowned 2020 Pier of the Year

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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.

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

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Clacton Pier’s director said the accolade is the ‘perfect morale booster’ (Nick Ansell/PA)

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for all 61 piers around the country and to pick up the award is the perfect morale booster for us.

“We are truly grateful to all those who voted for us and thank them for their faith in us.

“To top the list ahead of such great attractions as Brighton’s Palace Pier is a real accolade and will spur us on to even greater things.”

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.

Tim Wardley, chairman of the National Piers Society, said: “Seaside piers have long been prime generators of inward investment to the resorts they serve and are the beating hearts of seaside communities.

“The millions of pounds invested in Clacton Pier by Billy and Elliot Ball are a demonstration of their commitment to both the tourist industry and their home town.

“I wish them every success as they continue to work hard to bring an all-weather, year-round attraction to Clacton.”

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.

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