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Old October 11th, 2005, 02:09 PM   #1
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Major fire at World's longest pleasure pier in Southend-on-Sea, England

Pier to cost millions to restore

The buildings on the pier have collapsed into the sea

Fire at Southend
The section of the world's longest pleasure pier which was gutted by fire is to be rebuilt - even though it could cost millions of pounds.
The damage to the Southend Pier was a serious blow to the town, said borough council leader Anna Waite.

Ms Waite said: "We will be looking to restore it to its former glory. It's a very sad day and the pier will cost millions of pounds to rebuild."

A pub, a railway station and other buildings were destroyed in the fire.

A full investigation is being carried out into the cause of the fire which started at about 2240 BST on Sunday.

Absolutely huge

About 75 firefighters worked through the night to bring the fire under control.

Eyewitnesses said flames leapt 30 to 40 feet in the air as the "absolutely huge" inferno engulfed up to 130ft of the pier and the blaze could be seen for miles.

McGinty's pub, a restaurant, shops and toilet facilities collapsed into the Thames Estuary, taking part of the pier's wooden floor with them.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known but it is currently being treated as suspicious. This is a routine assessment until it can be ruled out.

Eyewitness Dave Watts told the BBC News that the main entertainment area of the pier had been "devastated".

Mr Watts, a cab driver, said he could see from the shore that the fire was "absolutely huge".

Pier disasters

There are a number of buildings at the end of the pier, including the pub, fast food restaurants and a newly-built lifeboat station. It is thought the lifeboat station has survived.

At 1.34 miles (2.16km), Southend Pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world. It opened in 1889, with extensions added in 1898, 1908 and 1929.

It has suffered a number of disasters in the past. In 1959 a major fire destroyed the Pier Pavilion at the shore end of the pier. This was replaced by a ten-pin bowling alley which opened in 1962.

The bowling alley was itself destroyed by a fire in 1995.

In 1976, the pier suffered another major fire which destroyed much of the area that had opened in 1908.

Former Southend MP Sir Teddy Taylor told BBC Five Live: "It's sad because it's one of the great assets we've got in Southend.

"It's a great place to walk down, it's a great opportunity for people to enjoy themselves. But sadly it looks as though we're in for a horrible business once again."

(Taken from bbc.co.uk)

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Google Maps satellite photo

Official pier website
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Old October 11th, 2005, 03:17 PM   #2
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From what I've heard, Southend Pier was horrible. I know it had a nice pier railway though...

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Old October 11th, 2005, 07:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Accura_Preston
From what I've heard, Southend Pier was horrible. I know it had a nice pier railway though...

The pier was in good condition but not very interesting. There wasn't much to see at the end, only a few amusements, snack shacks and a pub. The lifeboat station, the burnt remains from the previous fire and of course the view were interesting though.

It's just a bit sad when a place where you remember being at, photographing and enjoying has now gone.

Meanwhile, with the burnt down Brighton Pier West beyond repair, I think that a very modern, pier of unusual design and shape (by the likes of Sir Norman Foster or similar) should be built in it's place instead. It could feature modern attractions such as an Internet cafe or a gallery.

Brighton's pair of piers could then represent the past and future.
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