ANOTHER of Blackpool’s tourism jewels has changed hands after it was announced today North Pier has new owners.
The Victorian landmark has been sold for an undisclosed sum by Six Piers to the Sedgwick family which already operates rides on Central and South Piers.
Work will begin on Monday on a huge revamp with the pier repainted in a new maroon and cream livery.
The new owners will also axe the current 50p admission charge, and plan to bring in a new tram to take visitors from one end of the pier to the other.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Peter Sedgwick said: “North Pier provides a very exciting and unique opportunity for us.
“We are now in the process of reviewing the business and have some early plans for refurbishment and redevelopment that will improve the overall visitor experience to North Pier, which we will announce shortly. Our first priority is to protect, preserve and maintain the heritage and prestigious reputation of one of Blackpool’s most famous icons and national treasures in the seaside leisure industry.
“North Pier is a cherished destination of both visitors and locals alike and we are committed to creating a first class visitor experience and look forward to delivering exceptional events and memorable times for families and generations to come.”
The entertainment programme at North Pier Theatre, which was saved from the threat of closure in 2006 after a Gazette campaign, will continue unaffected.
Five shows are booked in, including Michael Barrymore’s Big Night Out, and the new owners hope to book another two shows and are holding a children’s matinee of Snow White.
Mr Sedgwick added: “People will see a big change in North Pier with substantial investment over the next two years. We are going to bring it back to its former glory.
“Our family’s background is as showmen and buying the pier is something we have looked at for many years. We have been on the other piers for 18 years. We won’t be putting rides on this one. We are bringing in fresh ideas but preserving the heritage of what is the jewel of the Prom.”
North Pier will re-open for the new season ahead of the Easter weekend, with planned events including a celebration to mark the Royal Wedding on April 29.
Six Piers, which is part of the Trevor Hemmings stable of companies, said it was approached by the Sedgwicks and decided to sell after reaching a deal.
Michael Williams, operations director for Six Piers and Crown Entertainment Centres which operates the Winter Gardens on behalf of the council, said: “There had been a number of parties in discussion for purchasing North Pier but we are pleased it will now be in the ownership of a local family who are ambitious for Blackpool.
“They represent the right choice to operate the attraction alongside their existing interests.”
Mr Williams added there were no plans to sell Central or South Piers which are also run by Six Piers.
The company will be refurbishing the Family Bar on Central Pier in time for the summer season, while planning permission is in place for the redevelopment of South Pier.
Alan Cavill, assistant director for tourism and economy at Blackpool Council, said: “We welcome investment in any of the attractions in Blackpool which add to creating a great environment for tourists.
“We look forward to seeing the plans setting out what the new owners propose to do.”
North Pier, which stretches 500 metres into the sea, was designed by Eugenius Birch and opened in 1863 and has Grade II listed status.
Last year Leisure Parcs, also owned by Trevor Hemmings, sold the Tower, the Winter Gardens and the Golden Mile Centre to Blackpool Council in a £40m deal.