Owners aim for pier to be '˜best in country' as investment continues
As Blackpool gears up for the 2017 season, work is stepping up to ensure a key heritage asset is ready to welcome visitors.
Large sections of decking are being replaced on North Pier as part of long term plans to maintain the Victorian structure.
This winter has seen Peter Sedgwick, who owns all three of Blackpool’s piers, invest £300,000 on repairs to the pier’s steelwork and decking.
Peter hopes to get the Grade II listed landmark into ship shape condition with the aim of securing the coveted national ‘pier of the year’ prize in coming years.
But he admits it will be a tough job because maintaining the boardwalk is ‘like painting the Forth Bridge’ - a never ending job!
Peter said: “Each winter we are replacing some of the decking until eventually it will all be replaced.
“The worst part is now done, with well over a quarter of it complete.
“We’ve also carried out work on the steel beneath the pier.
“It is an ongoing programme, a bit like painting the Forth Bridge - a never ending task.
“How much we have to do each year also depends on how bad a winter it has been.
“Hastings won the pier of the year this year, from the National Piers Society, and one day we are hoping to get the top award for North Pier.
“But there is a long way to go.
“As the pier earns money, it is being spent back on it so it is improving all the time.”
In 2013 a violent storm caused £1m damage to North Pier.
Gale-force winds left gaping holes in the boardwalk and damaged some of the rides on the pier.
In 2015, a man suffered leg injuries when a section of decking on North Pier gave way beneath his foot.
It was repaired immediately.
Staff check the decking, the rides and the amusements each day on the pier before it opens.
Peter has also invested £500,000 this winter overhauling the big wheel which was installed back on Central Pier last week, complete with a new lighting system.
North Pier opened on May 21 1863.
It is the oldest and longest of Blackpool’s three piers.
The deck was widened in 1896, and shops and an arcade were added in 1903.
The 1,500 seat theatre was completed in 1939, while in the 1930s, the bandstand became the sun lounge.
In the 1960s, amusements and the Merrie England bar were opened, while in 1991 the carousel and pier tramway were added.
Over the years the structure has suffered various storm damage, most recently in December 2013.
But by the following January extensive repairs were already underway.
It has been owned by the Sedgwick family since 2011.