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Clacton Pier
Clacton pier 700.jpg
Clacton Pier viewed from the south west
Official name Clacton Pier
Type Working pier with landing stages
Carries People
Spans North Sea
Locale Clacton-on-Sea
Owner The Clacton Pier Company Ltd
Total length 1,180 feet (360 m)
Opening date 27 July 1871
Coordinates 51°47′08″N 1°09′21″E / 51.7855°N 1.1559°E / 51.7855; 1.1559Coordinates: 51°47′08″N 1°09′21″E / 51.7855°N 1.1559°E / 51.7855; 1.1559

Clacton Pier is a pier located in the seaside resort town of Clacton-on-Sea in England. It was named Pier of the Year in 2020 by the National Piers Society. The pier hosts rides, ten-pin bowling, arcades, a seqaurium, golf and a soft-play centre – as well as numerous food, drink and retail outlets.

Post World War I to 1970s

At the end of the First World War, the pier was bought by Ernest Kingsman, and it remained in the ownership of his family until 1971.

Kingsman added some major improvements to the pier including: a RNLI lifeboat house; a theatre called the Ocean Theatre; the classically named Blue Lagoon Dance Hall; the Crystal Casino; an open-air stage; an open-air swimming pool; and a roller coaster which was called Steel Stella.

During World War II, the Pier was breached to prevent it being used as a landing stage. A floating German mine also caused considerable damage.

Following the war, after significant refurbishment, the 1946 season kicked off with Gene Durham headlining the traditional seaside show The Ocean Review, supported by Betty Martin and Gordon Norville. Gene Durham continued to headline until 1950, when Tony Hancock took over. In later years, season-long headline acts included Ted Rogers and Roy Hudd.

By 1971 the pier was under the control of Barney Kingsman (Earnest Kingsman’s Son) and had fallen a little behind with the times, with visitor numbers falling the decision was made to sell the Pier and it was in this same year that it was sold privately to Mr Michael Goss. The Goss family were no stranger to seaside pleasure Piers and already had the majority share in neighbouring Walton Pier, Mr Goss ran the pier as a successful amusement centre until he eventually grew frustrated with the lack of support from the local authority and their understanding of what was required to bring new visitors to the town and so decided it was time to sell up and retire.

From 1971 to 1985 dolphins and killer whales were kept and displayed on the pier at the site of the former open-air swimming pool.

In 1973, a fire caused significant structural damage to the pier, particularly the roller coaster. In 1978, a severe storm caused additional significant structural weakness.

Restoration

Clacton Pier, outdoor amusements
Outdoor amusements on the pier in 2013
Clacton Pier helter-skelter and Gunfleet wind farrm
Gunfleet Sands Offshore Wind Farm visible beyond the pier

August 1981 saw local businessmen Francis McGinty, John Treadwell, Denis McGinty and David Howe take ownership of the pier from Michael Goss with plans for a major redevelopment of the Pier including the possibility of a bar and disco, reintroduction of the dolphins to the dolphinarium and an upgrade of the pier ride offering. The proceeding years saw major additions to the pier at varying stages including the Whirlwind roller coaster, a Circus, Ice rink and a Roller Rink and even a water slide, unfortunately not all of the additions were a success and the pier company struggled financially on a couple of occasions until eventually in around 1993 the then operating company went into receivership which is where it remained for around about one year.

In 1994, a local businessman and his family, the Harrisons, bought the pier. They embarked on an ambitious and successful modernisation project to attract 20th century day trippers. The pier emerged as a modern amusement park, virtually unique in the sense that there are rides as you first enter, with the rest dotted throughout the length of the pier.

In March 2009 the pier was purchased by the Clacton Pier Company, who installed a new focal point, a 50 ft helter-skelter. Originally built in 1949 and used in a travelling show, it was featured in a 2008/2009 Marks & Spencer television advert. The helter-skelter collapsed during the St Jude storm on 28 October 2013.

Current Rides & Attractions

Name Manufacturer Opened Description
White Water August 2020 Log flume new for the 2020 season, similar to that of Thorpe Park.
Looping Star Pinfari 2021 (expected) Replaces Stella's Revenge. Initially planned to be opened for the 2020 season, but delayed due to storm damage in February 2020.
Beach Party Miami Kirdale Engineering May 2016 A beach themed Miami ride. Other Miami rides have previously operated on site.
Thunder Dome Waltzer Maxwell 1995 A traditional Waltzer ride. The ride started its life under the ownership of Brian Collins at Alton Towers in 1979. The ride left Alton Towers with Collins to open at the short-lived Atlas Park in Clacton-on-Sea (formerly Butlin's Clacton) in 1984. The ride was sold to Keith Emmett in 1987 and spent the season at Sandy Bay in Exmouth, Devon. At the end of 1987 the ride was sold to Albert Heal who operated Peter Pan's Playground on Brighton seafront, and the ride remained in place until the end of 1994.
Paratrooper Maxwell April 1977 A lifting Paratrooper (ride), new to the Pier from manufacturer Maxwell in 1977.
Twister Sonacase March 2001 A modern version of a classic Twist (ride). Replaced an older version of the same ride type, which was traded in to manufacturer Sonacase in a part-exchange deal.
Giant Helter Skelter 2013 A traditional Lighthouse Slip slide, originally built in 1949. An almost identical ride operated on site many years ago.
Aqua Blast Lagoon 2016 A small set of Bumper Boats located on part of the site of the old swimming pool.
Wild Mouse Coaster D.P.V. Rides A junior figure-8 rollercoaster suitable for small children, with a mouse-themed train. Formerly called "Speedy Gonzales".
Petrol Go Karts 2014 A double deck figure-8 go kart track, located on part of the site of the old swimming pool. A similar ride (but with electric pick-up powered karts) called "Speedway" operated on site many years ago.
Scalextric A collection of vehicles on a dual-level track, suitable for young children.
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