£1m damage as storms devastate North Pier

Storm damage to Blackpool's North Pier.

Storm damage to Blackpool's North Pier.

The devastated owners of one of Blackpool’s oldest landmarks today told how they are facing a £1m repair bill as they recover from one of the worst storms to hit the resort in years.

Blackpool’s iconic North Pier was left in tatters, with gaping holes in the floor, after gale forces winds tore through the structure on Thursday.

Managing director of the 150-year-old family-run attraction Sue Sedgwick said: “Over the three years we have had the pier we have invested well over £2m in maintenance and restoration alone.

“We have estimated this storm is going to cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds, maybe upwards of £1m.

“This is not just a business – it’s part of the family – and we’re absolutely devastated.”

A sun lounge, which had been open for just two seasons, was left strewn with broken glass after being severely damaged in the storm.

Carriages from the nearby waltzer attraction were left scattered across the area and tables balanced precariously above holes left when the pier’s wooden boards were torn up by the sea.

Pier manager Dominic Herdman said the arcade floor had been breached by the waves forced upwards as they smashed into the sea wall.

He said: “The arcade machines, which take three people to lift them, were being knocked around like toys by the water. I also went into the theatre and found the orchestra pit has gone.

“It’s a race against time to open again in February and we have to be back by then.”

At the end of the pier, a damaged steel support beam left the wooden decking sagging under its own weight.

However, Gayner Sedgwick, whose parents own the attraction, said the pier was otherwise structurally sound.

She added: “The damage is just unreal. North Pier is the only pier in the country that has got a sun lounge and the storm has completely destroyed it.

“I don’t know where we go from here – maybe we can get some heritage funding or something to help us out.

“We couldn’t get insurance for the sun lounge and we’re waiting to see if the other damage is covered.”

Staff at the pier worked late into the night on Thursday to ensure it opened yesterday but work is ongoing to make the rest of the pier safe.

Meanwhile, hoteliers and traders were left counting the cost of the storm after their businesses flooded.

Luca Notarianni, who runs Notarianni’s Ices on Waterloo road with dad Michael, said the damage to the floor and two freezers could top £10,000. “It flooded throughout, right to the back of the shop. But since the last floods we haven’t been able to get insurance so it’s going to come out of our pocket.”

Next door, Mark Yates’ store, Brooks Collectables, lost two-days’ trade because of the flooding, which caused around £3,000 damage, but said he hoped to reopen today.

He said: “We probably had about four inches in the shop but the water on Bath Street was nearly two feet deep. A lot of businesses here are just trying to survive the winter season and I think this will finish some off.”

The Royal Seabrook Hotel, on the Promenade, was under a foot of water. Manager Kelly Percival said: “It was horrendous because we’ve only just refurbished the place as well – staff were wading through it at one point.”

Jim Craig, manager of the Dutton Arms pub, on the Promenade, said water surrounded the building leaving three customers inside “marooned”.

Part of the synthetic surface close to the Comedy Carpet was ripped up while hordes of rubbish was washed up on Central beach.

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