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Southend Pier's popularity is undergoing a revival
SOUTHEND’S pier is in the middle of a revival.
The 1.3-mile landmark had one of its busiest years last year and the council believes the new Royal Pavilion has helped boost visitor numbers.
The £3million cultural centre opened on July 19, 2012. Last year the pier had 283,468 visitors – its highest since 2005.
Its most successful month was August last year when 64,493 paid to walk or ride the train along the pier.
Derek Jarvis, Southend councillor responsible for culture and tourism, said: “The Royal Pavilion has been doing well.
“It is a multi-functional building which lends itself to all sorts of things from conferences, weddings, concerts, plays and exhibitions.
“It is a wonderful investment which has more than lived up to expectations.”
The 350sq m building, which was designed by White Arkitekter with London-based architects Sprunt, was constructed off-site at Tilbury Docks.
It was then lowered on to a barge at the docks and transported along the Thames to the Pier in May 2012.
The pavilion was officially named in a ceremony conducted by the Duke of Kent, on July 16, last year.
It can seat 185 people in the main hall and also houses an artists’ studio and cafe with covered terrace.
It hosted eight weddings last year with 12 more booked for this year, and more happy couples booked to view the facilities.
In total the Pavilion hosted 60 events last year these included weddings, conferences, meetings, art/photographic exhibitions, Shakespeare, comedy festival, jazz clubs/concerts, film screenings, private hire, craft fairs, puppet festival, choir concert, fitness events.
For this coming year 49 events have been booked to date.
Its most successful event in terms of visitors was the Only Fools and Horses Exhibition last spring.
People flocked to see the unique exhibition of original props, costumes and memorabilia from the famous television show.
It returns to the pavilion on Good Friday – April 18 – and will be officially opened by John Challis, who playedBoycie in the hit BBC comedy. It runs until May 5.
Mr Jarvis added: “The pavilion is out to sea and unless you actually go there or attend an event you don’t know how good it is. I’d encourage people to go along and see how versatile it is.
“We are delighted it is doing its job and we’re coming into a really busy season too.
“Pier visitor numbers have gone up month-on-month. We want even more people coming on to the pier as they used to do in days gone by.”
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